A shrub is a beverage made from fruit, some sort of acid, and a sugar. They were popular in colonial America as a means of preserving fruit without refrigeration. The vinegar breaks down the fruit and the sugar sweetens everything up a bit. The result is a tangy, sweet, complex mixture that is very refreshing when mixed with soda water.
Amanda and I started a tradition the first Autumn after we got married: Go apple picking, make apple pies, and make apple butter. We look forward to it every year.
We started out making apple butter in a crock pot, but last year I switched to making it in an Instant Pot.
- The crockpot took about 12 hours to cook down the apples, which limited us to starting it early in the morning or late at night and locked us into canning it 12 hours later. Since prep takes about an hour and canning (sanitizing, filling, and boiling) takes about an hour, this cramped our style.
- The Instant Pot cooks down the apples in about an hour, which means we can make two batches from start to finish in one day. Or we can do a single batch in an afternoon without much stress.
- The Instant Pot breaks down the apple skins and large chunks much better than the crock pot did, so we don’t have to peel them. We just wash, core, and roughly chop. The extra pectin from the skins also means we don’t need to add gelatin.
My recipe is still pretty close to the original crock pot recipe. Last year I used half brown sugar and half molasses. This year I used honey and molasses, which I’ll probably stick with.
- 5.5 lbs apples
- 2 cups honey
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (I prefer to grate my own with a micrograter)
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup apple cider
- Wash the apple and dry them with a towel. You want those peels shiny, not dull.
- Remove the cores and roughly chop the apples. Large chunks are fine, the pressure will break them down easily.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in the Instant Pot.
- Seal and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Turn off the “Keep Warm” setting.
- Let the steam release naturally. If you are short on time, quick releasing it is fine.
- Remove the lid and purée the cooked apples with a hand blender. If you don’t have a hand blender, a regular blender is fine, but remember that the apples are hot, so work in small batches and make sure the steam can escape the blender. You don’t want a Jackson Pollack on your ceiling.
- If your apples have too much liquid, put the apples back in the Instant Pot and turn on the Sauté setting (medium) to cook them down a little more until they reach your desired consistency. We prefer it pretty thick. I put a lid from one of my other pans over the pot to make sure it doesn’t splatter while it is cooking down.
If you are going to give it out to family and friends, I highly recommend you can and process it.
One batch makes approximately 5 pint jars/10 half-pint jars.