Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Slow cooker Spiced Apple Butter

I was given this recipe by my neighbour, who sadly passed away whilst we were in France.

A few weeks before going to France, we had a conversation over the garden fence about knitting. I expressed that I was interested in learning to knit but just didn't have the time. My experience of knitting only extended to a tea cosy. In fact I remember saying to her, that my best friend in America had a little girl and I so, so wished I could send her something that I had handmade, like hand knitted baby boots. She smiled and proudly pointed to the orange cardigan she was wearing and said ‘I knitted this. I knit all my cardigans'. I looked at the detail in her cardigan, so intricate and skilled. She laughed ‘oh this pattern is so easy’. During the conversation she offered to teach me, which I so happily accepted, (even better that there was no need to travel as she was only next door). She gave me some wool, knitting needles to practice the basic stitch and a pattern, so that I could get used to ‘knit speak’. This weekend just gone, would have been my first official lesson with her.

She will be sadly missed by D and me for a number of reasons. We will remember her fondly, as she shared our love for gardening and growing vegetables in her tiny space. This excited us when we first moved in and our friendship developed from there. One of the first things she told us was about the cooking apple tree in our garden. Often half of the apples from the tree would land in her garden. So come late Autumn, she would pick the windfall: wash, core, chop and freeze apple slices to make crumble or apple pie in the winter. I don’t know if she ever made this apple butter herself; or just gave it to me because she knew I liked to cook, but I make it for the first time in her honour.
I made the 'apple butter' with the various apples I had been given by my friend last week. This made me giggle a little and then shake my head at my greediness. As yesterday, the crashing and blustery wind had knocked down a good basket full of cooking apples from my own tree. So more appley recipes to come.

I also have to apologise to you all for the state of my pouring the apple butter into jars. I seem to have misplaced my jam jar funnel, so it was rather difficult pouring the apple butter into the jam jars in an elegant manner. It was fun licking my fingers afterwards though. D tasted a little and said 'MMmmmm.....tastes like baby food'. I don't know if that is a good thing?!
*The original recipe used mixed spice, but the closest I had in my kitchen cupboard was a jar of allspice, so that is what I substituted it with. Although the peeling and chopping of the apples was the most consuming part of the process, I really loved the ease in making this recipe...
No need to stand over and watch, just the occasional stirring and then it was ready. My one advice on making this apple butter is to start early in the morning. You don’t want to start this late in the afternoon and its ready for jarring way after midnight.
Slow cooker Spiced Apple Butter
Makes 5 x 300g jars
2lb, peel and chop the apples roughly (mixed variety)
310g granulated sugar
165g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice*
½ teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in slow cooker and stir so all apples are coated well with the sugar and spices. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce to LOW for 8 to 9 hours, stirring occasionally. During this stage, the apples will soften and break down (looking not particularly appetizing, but they do eventually turn a deep rich toffee brown color. Turn off slow cooker.
Either use a hand-held blender (much easier I think), mash by hand (be warned that the final result may not be totally smooth) or pulse in a blender (this is a little bit of a hassle, but worth it), so that the apples are a smooth creamy buttery consistency. Then fill jars.
Up-dated 31/10/2010: A fellow blogger made a version of my Spiced Apple Butter. See here


  1. Oh I am sorry about your neighbour. That is very sad, she sounds like she was wonderful and will live on in your memory. I love the sound of this apple butter. The deer and wasps have seen off most of our apples, but I must give this a go in my Aga, instead of the slow cooker. I am making damson cheese tonight - deers don't seem to have developed a taste for damsons yet!

  2. enjoy the knitting- if I can do it, anyone can. Beware, there's no going back... x

  3. Thank you for your kind words Kath. She certainly will. We invited her along to our wedding which was held at an Pakistani 'Indian style' restaurant. Although the food was a little spicy for her, she did try. She had such a wonderful sense of humour.

    Its my first ever apple butter, so I am quite pleased with the result. Shame about the deers and wasps getting all of yours. If you do get a load, yes, please do try it in your Aga, I h ave no doubt it will work a treat and warm up your home and fill it with lovely smells.

    Damson cheese sounds really good. Would you believe me if I told you that i've never eaten a damson. True. Does it actually taste like plum or a little different?

    Thank you for your encouragement Mother of Purl.

  4. Oh that's sad. I'm glad her recipes live on, though. :-)
    Hi. I'm new to your blog and loving it.

  5. I'm sorry about your friend and neighbor. The apple butter looks just perfect. My neighbor's pears are falling off the tree into my back yard and I'm wondering if I could use this recipe substituting pears?? I'm going to try it:)

  6. She must have been quite a lady MC to have persuaded you to pick up the knitting needles. Perhaps you could find someone else to help you so her keenness to share her passion with you is not lost.
    Your apple butter looks lovely and funnily enough this is the second recipe for making it in a slow cooker I've read today. Needless to say with a box of windfall apples sitting in the kitchen I shall be digging my slow cooker out of the Ebay pile!

  7. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, it sounds as though it was a sudden death, which is perhaps even worse. But so nice to have such lovely memories and reminders. Kind wishes, Kathy

  8. Mmm apple butter sounds wonderful! I must still purchase a slow cooker. I can't believe I don't own one yet!

  9. I am sorry to hear about your neighbor.
    I haven't been by for awhile, but am so thrilled to find this recipe. We are surrounded by orchards, with very generous friends, and always looking for new ideas to use the bounty. I am anxious to try this... thank you for sharing! I hope that you had a nice summer.

  10. Welcome and Thank you for your comment Please Do Not Feed The Animals.

    Thank you Patty.
    I never knew about apple butter, but I had heard of pear butter. This recipe may work, but just take into account that pears have a different consistency. Soem adjusting may be required :)

    Thank you Nic.
    She really was and I was honoured to have been in her presence.

    I'll see what happens with the knitting. The bonus was she was nearby and the knitting lessons could be negotiable with my my messy Scotland wide work schedule which is still all over the place, whcih means I can't commit to classes either.

    There are a few slow cooker recipes about some with different flavourings. Now dig that slow cooker from that pile and make some of your own :D

    Thank you Kathy of the The Cottage Garden Farmer.
    Sadly her death was unexpected. But we will cherish the lovely memories she gave us.

    Thank you Jacklyn.
    I was fortuante to have been given my slow cooker as a flat warming present about 4 years ago, this is the third time I have used it!

    Thank you Shannon.

    I'm so pleased you like the look of this apple butter recipe. You ar so fortunate to be surrounded by orchards. I do hope you try this, you can alter the flavouring and the spices a little if you wish.

  11. oh, it looks so yummy and i love the first picture!
    have a sweet day,

  12. I wish my neighbours were as sweet as yours was.
    Sorry about the sad news though.


  13. Never eaten a damson! You must remedy this as soon as possible. They are sharper than a plum, but nothing beats them stewed with custard or made into jam, or damson vodka/ gin, or pickled damsons... Do I sound like a damson freak? I have just finished eating a couple of slices of multigrain bread spread with lashings of damson jam and it was delicious. I hope you get to try one soon, but they are better cooked than eaten straight from the tree.

  14. It's really sad for your neighbour. Life is tough...
    But cooking savoury things is a key to feel good.
    I will make this apple butter this week-end. I usually did with butter in it (and maple syrup) but I think we will prefer your way.
    Thanks a lot.

  15. Delighted to have you visit my blog - yours is one I will have to come back to when I have more time to browse - all these fab recipes!! Wonderful!

  16. So sorry about your friend. Thankfully she made her mark while she was here!

  17. Sad to read you lost your kind neighbour who was clearly a generous person in heart and soul. She would be so pleased, I am sure, that you made this apple butter in her honor.

  18. Thank you Justyna.

    Thank you so much Patricia.
    I've been reading about your adventures in Australia and about your sister. Beautiful photographs as always.

    I know - shocking as it is Kath.
    Its so true, I have Never eaten a damson!
    I'll do my best to hunt some down, but chances are there may be no more for me. I may have to wait until next year.

    NO I don't think your a damon freak, just a lucky lady! Enjoy your damson jam :D

    Thank you so much for your comment Spécialiste de l'éphémère.

    I like the sound of the maple syrup in your 'apple butter'.

    Thank you for repaying the compliment Morgan. Its also a pleasure th hav ehad you over.

    Thank you for your comment A SPICY PERSPECTIVE.

    Thank you so much for your kind comment Gardeningbren.
    Yes, she was really dear. I am sure she would have pleased to see my efforts. And I have no doubt it would have made her smile. I do really miss seeing her out from my flat window pottering in her garden. Her garden is all overgrown now. The flat will soon be up for sale and we'll have new neighbours.

  19. So sorry that you've lost your wonderful neighbor. She's left you with some special things to remember her by.

    Thanks for sharing her recipe – it looks so rich, delicious and easy to prepare. I've never made apple butter in a slow cooker but it seems like a terrific idea.

  20. :-( it is so hard when someone you click with passes away, it is lovely when you meet people like that who make you light up when you are chatting to them. I hope you make many crumbles in her name this winter. x

  21. Thanks for your lovely comment Andrea.

    Scented Sweetpeas.
    It does sadden me greatly. I do hope to make a crumble or two in her memory. x
    Thank you.

  22. Looks great but could you use less sugar??

  23. Probably Sophie, but it may not be as caramel.

  24. i'm so sorry about your neighbor's passing. sounds like she was a truly wonderful and generous person.

    i've been making batches of crabapple butter lately with basically those same ingredients, but i never thought of using a slow cooker. fabulous idea. mine usually turns out looking much closer to applesauce than this dark, rich deliciousness you've got going on...

  25. Thank you Emily.
    She really was a star in her own right. We will miss her and her sense of humour.

    I think the recipe is actually American, as 'apple butter' and 'pear butter' are not that popular in the U.K.

    The slow (cooking) cooker has surely given it a caramel colour. I may have a go at making some applesauce, as more cooking apples have come my way. But next its apple chutney.

    I'm coming on over to see whats been going on where you are :D

  26. Sorry to hear about your neighbour's death - she sounds like just the sort of person everyone wants to live next door to - glad you were able to share your love of gardening and her knitting skills while you had time. I am sure this apple butter will be extra special with the memories that are the secret ingredient

  27. Thank you so much Johanna.
    We were really sad at the fact that we also missed her funeral as it happened all of a sudden whilst we were still in France.

    We are so pleased to have got to know her though and her memories will be with us forever.

  28. So sad to hear about your neighbour!
    I am making 'bottled' Christmas presents this year, as I have done in the past. Can we know your neighbour's name? Then I can label my jars as 'neighbour's apple butter'. I already have your melon chilli jelly jam recipe printed out - and that will be labelled with your name.

  29. Thank you Sphinx.
    We do miss her. Her flat has been sold and we will soon have new neighbours moving in.
    So kind of you to wish to write her name on your jam jars. She had a very Scottish name 'Nessie'. I am also blushing that my name will be on the Melon Chilli Jam recipe, a huge compliment and i am honoured as well as humbled. Thank you so much.

    If you do post these recipes on your blog(s), please let me know and i will put a link to them from my blog too. Kind wishes.


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