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.
Amanda and I drove up to Wilkins Fruit & Fir Farm over Labor Day Weekend to go apple picking. It is a tradition we started the year we got married. Sometimes the weather is beautiful and warm, sometimes it is rainy and cold, sometimes we have friends with us, and other times it is just us. But we always go. It is a cute little farm and they always have fresh apple cider doughnuts to buy in their bakery. 🍩
This year it was just us and the weather was gorgeous. It was one of the first cool days of the season and the sun was shining. We ended up picking two pecks of apples, a mix of Gala and McIntosh.
Also, since we went earlier than normal this year, peaches were still in season! We picked a few pounds of those, too.
How we used our Harvest
Amanda made a peach galette and peach hand pies, then we canned the rest so that we can make another galette later this year. In the spirit of using as much as possible, I took the water we boiled the peaches in to remove the skin and used it to make a peach and raspberry tea. And, of course, we ate at least half a dozen peaches while prepping them.
First and foremost, we made and canned two batches of apple butter. We ate about a dozen apples between the two of us over the next week, then we took what was left and made canned apple pie filling. Amanda took one peck to work to sell at the coworking/meeting space she manages.
We might cruise up there again later this fall to buy some cider to ferment here at home with champagne yeast.
We can’t wait to go again next year!
Amanda and I canned two varieties of tomatoes from our small garden for the first time. Someone stole them all last year and we didn’t get many the year before):
We also canned some beautiful heirlooms from our Peace and Carrots Farm CSA.
This was our first time canning tomatoes and here is what we learned:
- Tomatoes can be canned via the water bath method as long as you acidify them. We used 1/4 tsp of citric acid per pint.
- We use whole canned tomatoes much more than we use paste or crushed tomatoes, so we canned all of ours whole.
- We opted to put them in pints because most of the dishes I use canned tomatoes for take either 1 or 2 pints.
- All of the San Marzano tomatoes in our cabinet had salt and a basil leaf added, so we mimicked that and added those things to ours, too. We have basil growing right here in our apartment, so it worked well.
- The best way to peel tomatoes is to cut a small X in the bottom with a knife (doesn’t need to be deep, just break the skin), drop them in a pot of boiling water for 45 seconds or until the skin starts to peel away on its own, then fish them out and put them in an ice bath until they are cool enough to handle. The skin should peel right off easily.
- The funnel included with the AeroPress doubles as an excellent canning funnel.
- You can tightly pack tomatoes down into a jar and they will create their own liquid as you squeeze them in. You shouldn’t need to add any.
- Jar lifters are a must. You WILL burn yourself if you try to MacGyver a solution like I did. They are only $5 and very useful. Get one.
We got 8 pints this year! We know it isn’t a lot, but we are pleased to have gotten so many out of our small garden. We’ll savor each and every one of them this winter.