The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Make Apple Butter The Easy Way

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1999

Online: January, 1999

At harvest festivals all over the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, people are making apple butter. If you like this regional gourmet delight, but can't get it in your "neck of the woods," try the following recipe. You can make it using apples or pears, or even pumpkin!

When mountain people make apple butter, they start with several bushels of apples, peel and cut up apples all day and then cook them down in a copper pot over an open fire outdoors. It's extremely time consuming. Now, an easy version that tastes great and can be made at home with common utensils.

Crock Pot Fruit Butter

Peel and cut up into small pieces enough fruit to fill a quart canning jar 3 times (3 quarts)

4 cups sugar
1/3 cup juice so that the fruit doesn't initially stick to the bottom of pot. For pears, I added 1/3 cup orange juice to one batch and added pineapple juice to another. Apple cider is the best for apple butter. You can experiment for different flavors.

Optional Spices to add:

Apple butter is spiced with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon you might want to add a little ginger or nutmeg also. You might even add a sprinkle of ground cloves. There are some people who drop the "red hot" cinnamon candies in the batch to melt and have a cinnamon flavor. I have even heard of people adding a package of Strawberry Kool-Aid.

Put fruit, sugar and juice into crock pot and turn it on high. I usually start mine about 8:00 at night and let it cook until I go to bed on high. Then I turn it down to low and let it cook all night. The amount of fruit mentioned above (3 quarts) is all my pot will hold with the sugar added. If your crock pot is larger, you might like to enlarge the proportions.

In the morning, there will probably be a lot of fluid that has come out as the fruit has cooked. Dip the fruit & liquid out by the cupfuls and place in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Be careful not to put too large a batch in the blender at one time and, because the mix is very hot, do not place the lid completely on the blender, but allow for steam to escape.

As you blend a couple of cups from the crock pot, place it in another large bowl. When you have blended all the contents of the crock pot, return mixture to crock pot. Cook on high with the lid off until the fruit butter is as thick as you want it to be. Place in clean, hot canning jars and place lid on immediately. Tighten jar lid. I place the jars upside down until they are completely cool to help them seal better with all the heat against the seal.