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Apple butter is a type of preserved food with a noble reputation, equally delectable on simple toast and more complicated treats. Some recognize this condiment for the intricately balanced affair that it is and buy their favorite brand at the grocery store to save the trouble. Others follow a fairly straightforward path to create a Crock-Pot® apple butter with fresh ingredients according to their preferences. Cooks puree fresh apples that have been simmered in cider, and then heighten the profile with more ingredients like sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and cloves for a spreadable "butter" that puts mere applesauce to shame.
While Crock-Pot® apple butter is being prepared, many canners also sterilize the jars and lids they will use to store or distribute their creation. This can be done by placing the jars and lids in an oven set to about 250°F (about 120°C) for as long as a half-hour. Another method involves gently placing the containers in simmering water for at least 10 minutes. When finished, the jars are dried with a clean towel and set nearby.
Meanwhile, apples are simmering in cider for Crock-pot® apple butter to start taking shape. According to one recipe at the Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy Web site, about 0.5 gallon (nearly 2 liters) of apple cider will be needed to submerge 5 lbs. (about 2.3 kg) of apple chunks. Chefs use the green Granny Smith variety or red types like Macintosh. Each kind of apple will produce a distinctly sweet, sour or sweet and sour flavor.
The apples along with all the aforementioned seasonings go into a pot, and the Crock-Pot® apple butter is underway. Recipe quantities consist of 5 lbs. (or 2.3 kg) of apples, about 1.5 cups (about 200 g) of sugar, 0.5 cup (about 64 g) of brown sugar, 2 tsp. (about 10 g) of cinnamon, some lemon juice and a dash of both cloves and allspice. Set to low, the Crock-pot® apple butter is allowed to cook for as long as 10 hours. After being pureed and cooled, it is then returned to the Crock-pot® to cook uncovered on high heat, which should reduce the pureed jam to a thick hyper-sweet consistency.
When the apple butter is at the desired thickness, it is added to jars, which are sealed according to the canner's preferred method, such as undergoing a five-minute water bath. If a Crock-Pot® is not used, a Dutch oven or just stove-top soup pot is capable of the job. The apples are cooked first in the cider with this latter method though, taking about a half-hour. Then, the mixture is pureed and returned to the pot for the rest of the seasonings and the final medium-heat cooking for as long as two hours.
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