One of my daughters, E, has been asking to go apple picking for a couple of years now. I really have been meaning to take her but something always seemed to get in the way like… it was raining, or I didn’t feel like driving for 45 minutes, or the apples that were available to pick weren’t my favorite so we “weren’t able to make it.”
A few weeks ago we had a girls’ weekend and I decided this was the perfect weekend for apple picking. The weather was going to be tolerable and it was HONEYCRISP picking time!!! Honeycrisps are my favorite kind of apple! They are, by far, superior to all other apples. I don’t know if it is the same all over the country but at Eckert’s Farm (where we were going), honeycrisps are available mid to late August. So off we went.
I can’t believe I have never been to Eckert’s before! It really only took a ½ hour to get there and it was amazing! There is the farm, a country store, an ice cream stand
and a restaurant. And probably a ton of other stuff that I missed.
We got our field passes and our crates and headed off on the tractor.
First stop, honeycrisp apples! It was so fun. The trees were so low. Is that always the case at apple picking farms? I think the girls were a little disappointed they didn’t need to climb ladders to get their apples but it didn’t phase them for long. We got plenty of beautiful apples and of course we got to taste test in the field.
We were also still able to pick some peaches and fresh veggies, so we did. Then we rode the tractor back and paid for our bounty.
Since we were there longer than I anticipated, I decided it would be a good idea to eat lunch in the restaurant. And thank goodness we did! It was absolutely delicious!!! The best part, instead of bread and butter they give you these fantastic little biscuit things and apple butter. HEAVEN!!
I mean, I was obnoxiously complimenting the waitress on the biscuits. They tasted like little doughnuts but not exactly. She told me they were plain old canned biscuits that you buy in the grocery store. Oh, but one difference… they deep-fry them. Then you spread on some apple butter. Unbelievable! They will change your life!
We took everything home and I couldn’t wait to make my own apple butter!
My apple butter is based on this slow cooker recipe. Since the slow cooker does most of the work it really was very simple to make. It takes some time but it is not difficult.
I washed, cored and chopped 5 lbs of apples, skins left on. I have a pretty big slow cooker and they almost didn’t fit.
Next, I sprinkled on all my sugar and spices and tossed everything together.
I cooked it on high for 1 hour. Stirred. Then, I cooked it on low overnight. I did stir whenever I could but my slow cooker’s “low” setting was perfect for overnight cooking. If your slow cooker runs a little hot it could scorch the apples overnight but this wasn’t a problem for me.
The next day, I used my immersion blender to smooth it all out. Then, I kept the slow cooker on low but left the lid off for another hour to let the apple butter thicken.
I poured the apple butter into eight ½ pint sterile mason jars and processed them for 15 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Voila!
Full disclosure – I am not an apple butter expert. I loved the flavor of my apple butter and I thought it was thick enough. I also thought it would thicken a little more as it cooled.
My mom is more of an apple butter expert than me. She also loved the flavor but thinks it is usually a little chunkier and it could be a little thicker.
I’m sticking with my smooth consistency apple butter. The one at Eckert’s was smooth too and I feel like if it was chunkier it would be weird applesauce. However, the apple butter at Eckert’s was a little thicker. I was wrong about it thickening more as it cools, that didn’t happen. I think that I should have just cooked it with the lid off longer and that would have solved the issue.
Regardless, I am thrilled with the result! I hope you give it a try! And, I already have fall or winter teacher gifts ready to go. Woo Hoo!
Fills eight ½ pint mason jars
5 – 5½ lbs apples, cored and chopped
1 c Sugar
1 c Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Cloves
½ tsp Allspice
½ tsp Salt
Place apples in slow cooker
Sprinkle remaining ingredients over the apples; stir
Cook on high, covered, for 1 hour
Stir, cover and cook on low overnight (or for 8-10 hours); stirring if possible
The next day, use an immersion blender to blend apples to desired consistency
Keeping the lid off, continue to cook on low for 2 hours or until desired consistency
Ladle into ½ pint sterilized mason jars and process for 10 – 15 minutes*
Enjoy the flavor of fall!
*Research proper canning techniques if you are not familiar with canning.