Instant Pot Apple Butter

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


  1. Wash the apple and dry them with a towel. You want those peels shiny, not dull.
  2. Remove the cores and roughly chop the apples. Large chunks are fine, the pressure will break them down easily.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together in the Instant Pot.
  4. Seal and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Turn off the “Keep Warm” setting.
  5. Let the steam release naturally. If you are short on time, quick releasing it is fine.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Turnip and Kohlrabi Pickles

I made this Vietnamese pork and cold rice noodles dish for dinner, but didn’t have carrot or daikon on-hand for the vegetable pickles. I did have turnips and kohlrabi from the CSA, though.

Above: Sous vide pork, basil, cilantro, mint, rice noodles, quick pickles, nuoc cham.

I quickly sliced them thin with my food processor, minced a few cloves of garlic, grabbed a few dried hot peppers from my Vietnamese pepper plant, tossed them all in a quart jar, and filled it with a typical pickling liquid. I didn’t peel the kohlrabi, so they colored everything a delightful pink.

Kohlrabi, turnips, garlic, and hot peppers make a good combination!

Pickling liquid

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the hot liquid over the jar of vegetables and let it cool before putting it in the fridge.

Thinly sliced vegetables should pickle quickly and be ready to eat within an hour. They’ll keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 weeks. We’ll probably eat these before then!

Picking Apples and Peaches 🍎🍑

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

Peaches 🍑

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.

Apples 🍎

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!

Tips for Canning Tomatoes

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:

  1. 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.
  2. We use whole canned tomatoes much more than we use paste or crushed tomatoes, so we canned all of ours whole.
  3. We opted to put them in pints because most of the dishes I use canned tomatoes for take either 1 or 2 pints.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The funnel included with the AeroPress doubles as an excellent canning funnel.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Freeze Your Summer Vegetables

When you have a garden or are part of a CSA you tend to get a lot of vegetables in at once.  If you can’t use them all right away, it is a good idea to save them for later in the year when fresh vegetables aren’t as easy to come by. If you have the freezer space, freezing your veggies is a fast and easy way to save some of those summer flavors for the colder months.

Some vegetables get mushy or soft after they are frozen and thawed, so they aren’t great for every use. Here are some common vegetables we like to freeze and what we use them for afterward:

  • Zucchini – Great for soups or dishes like Mushy Zucchini where it is okay that it is soft.
  • Squash – We love yellow squash in vegetable soups.
  • Green beans – Soups, steamed and then sauteed with garlic, or included in stir frys or cauliflower fried rice.
  • Cherry tomatoes – Even frozen cherry tomatoes make a killer quick pasta sauce.
  • Carrots – Soups!
  • Cabbage – Primarily sickie soup.
  • Kale – Kale holds up surprisingly well after being frozen. As long as you are cooking it, you can use it for pretty much any kind of recipe. We’ll probably saute it or add it to soups.
  • Spinach – Garbanzos con Espinacas y Jengibre
  • Bell peppers – We like to freeze red peppers for roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Green and yellow peppers we dice up and use for breakfast skillets all winter long.
  • Hot peppers – Great for chilis, stews, and sauces.
  • Pumpkins and butternut squash – We roast and puree the pumpkins and butternut squash before freezing them. We use it for soups, breads, cookies, and pies.
  • Corn – We like to cut it off the cob before freezing it. We put it in soups, use it for esquites, and other corn salads.
  • Peas – We add them to stir frys and cauliflower fried rice.
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower – These tend to get a little pushy after being frozen, so we prefer to use them in soups. Sometimes I use frozen broccoli in frittatas.


Wash, dry, and chop your vegetables for their intended use before freezing them. You won’t be able to separate them when they are frozen, and if you wait to do it until they are thawed, they are more difficult to cut.

Vacuum Sealing

The best way to prevent freezer burn is with a vacuum sealer. These things are worth their price several times over. They completely elimate freezer burn and allow you to store things in the freezer much longert than would otherwise be possible. We also use ours to freeze meat, soups, broths, and leftovers.

Buying them on Amazon is the fastest way to get them, but not always the cheapest. For a good price, go to your local clearance store (Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Bargain Bin, etc). We got ours for 70% off the retail price at one of those places. It is four years old and still cranking.

Dating & Inventory

Always write the date you froze something on the packaging. I know you think you’ll remember, but you probably won’t. I’ve made that mistake more than once. Just take the extra thirty seconds to write the date on them. I also like to write what it is just incase two things look very similar.

Bonus points if you keep an inventory list of what is in your freezer. To be honest, I don’t. I do keep a list of the vegetables in my fridge, though. They have a much smaller usage window.