October 01, 2012

Vanilla Rum Caramel Apple Butter

9-10 Jonagold apples, sliced and cored*
3/4 cup apple cider
2-3 tablespoons black spiced rum
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker. The apples should come to the very top of the insert.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Vent by placing the lid on askew and cook on low for an additional 10-12 hours or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has reduced and thickened.

Pour the mixture into the food processor or use an imersion blender to puree. Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 weeks or ladle when warm into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.

Yield: about 5 8-oz jars + 1 4-oz

*A apple corer/slicer makes quick work of this.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
I know when I have finally accepted it is fall when I break down and go to the farmers market and come back with apples and cider. That means it is apple butter time! I know you can make apple butter on the stove and last year we saw it being made over a wood fire in a town square but I can't see making it at home any way but in the slow cooker. It takes all of the work and watching out of the process and I think the final product is better than stove top variations. I will admit I liked the slightly smoke of the town square butter but I don't think my neighbors want me building a fire pit in the backyard for open air apple buttering. For this year's apple butter I splashed in some rum and vanilla paste to really deepen the flavor of the dark brown sugar so the end product ended up tasting like a grown-up caramel apple. I used Jonagolds because they are naturally sweet and cook down really, really well but any apple suitable for cooking would work just fine.

Added bonus: your whole house smells like apple butter for a day.