We all know the advice: spread yourself too thin, and you’ll run out of things to give. Hurry too much, and you won’t get anywhere. Everything tastes best in moderation. And if you were in need of any more metaphors for life, this naked, clean apple butter embodies all of these wisdoms.
This Sunday, Thanksgiving Sunday for most of Canada, I made an appearance on TV screens all over Montreal, on CTV’s Sunday Bite. Thanks to the wonders of television, it is already available online, though I have not yet been able to bring myself to watch it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Join me in my kitchen as I try not to burn myself with pickling liquid for butternut squash pickles, cover my cupboards in vegan cilantro pesto, or process this beautiful apple butter for too long.
As I was waiting for this segment to come out, my mind kept racing about all the things I should do ahead of time – organize all the recipes, redesign my site, upload my new logo, run a marathon… And then I got on a bus and drove across one of the most beautiful, scenic highways of Canada, across the Quebec-Ontario border, watching maple tree after maple tree pass unhurriedly by… And I realized that I don’t need to do anything. Except maybe upload this apple butter recipes, of course. Oh yes, and go and play with an adorable baby.
Unhurriedly simmered in a slow cooker, or prepared in a large, heavy pot on your stovetop, this naked apple butter is the embodiment of the true, concentrated taste of apples in season. It wants for little, accepting a few drizzles of lemon juice, or a pinch or two of cinnamon, though it is also perfectly happy on its own. It has no added sugar, only the natural sweetness of your favourite apples. It can be canned, or kept in the fridge in a tightly-closed jar for about a month. It is languid and rich-tasting, while also being incredibly good for you. And the best part is, it requires minimal work. What more could you ask for if you’re looking to preserve fall?
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
Simple, clean apple butter (slow cooker and stovetop)
- 2.5 lbs of mixed apples or more - aim for a nice balance of tart and sweet apples. The common McIntosh works great here, balanced out with some Cortlands
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 TB cinnamon
Wash all your apples thoroughly (no need to peel). Core and quarter apples.
If using a slow cooker, cook your apples on high for four hours, until they have all broken down. Ladle into a blender, or use an immersion blender to process the apple sauce into a uniform, smooth sauce. It will still be quite runny at this point. Return to slow cooker and cook for another hour (or even two, if you have more apples than just the 2.5lbs specified here), until the applesauce has reduced sufficiently. When tested, it shouldn't really drip, but instead slowly meander down from your wooden spoon. Add lemon juice and cinnamon to your butter, and stir well to combine.
If you're pressed for time, though, feel free to cook these on the stovetop in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. The process will be the same, except you will keep your burner at medium-low and your cooking times will be 1.5 hours for the first cook, and 30-60 minutes on the second (depending on how many apples you're cooking).
If canning, this amount will yield about 2 half-pints (I know, I know, it really cooks down). Please ensure you have sterilized jars and lids submerged into boiling water at the ready when your sauce finishes cooking; ladle sauce into jars, wipe the rim to prevent sticking, and cover with metal lids. Screw the rings on very lightly, using only two fingers, and return to hot water bath canning pot for 10-minutes of processing.