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.
Amanda and I love apple picking. We go out in our flannel shirts, pick apples, eat cider donuts, sip hot apple cider, then come home and make apple butter and bake apple pies. It makes for a wonderful weekend.
This year we picked Macoun (cross between the McIntosh and Jersey Black) and Empire (cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious) apples.
A half-bushel of apples (pictured above) is enough for two pies, two batches of apple butter, and a few apples left over to eat.
We start making the apple butter around 7pm and let it cook in a crock pot overnight. The house smells amazing when you wake up in the morning. After just a few more minutes of work, you are ready to slather it on toast.
Here is our recipe:
5-6 lbs of peeled, cored, and finely chopped apples
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/16 teaspoon cloves (4 whole cloves ground in a spice grinder)
1 pack of gelatin powder
Peel, core, and finely chop the apples. After rough chopping them, then pulse them in a food processor. You should end up with around 5.5 lbs. Use a kitchen scale.
Grind up any whole spices you are using.
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, mix well, cover, and cook on high for an hour.
Turn the crock pot down to low after the hour is over, stir the mixture, put the cover back on, and go to bed.
If you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, stumble over to the kitchen and stir the simmering apples.
When you wake up 8-9 hours later, the house should smell amazing. Don’t sleep in too much; the apple butter only takes 11-12 hours of cooking time. Uncover the apple butter (which should look dark brown now), stir, and let cook uncovered for another hour to thicken up.
After you’ve cooked off the excess liquid, sprinkle the gelatin packet, and blend until smooth with a hand blender (they are cheaper than you think.) If you don’t have one, whisking will work fine, too. Don’t try pouring this all into a regular blender; the heat will cause it to paint your ceiling and walls as soon as you turn it on.
While the apple butter is still hot, spoon it into sterilized glass jars and screw the lids on. They should seal themselves within a few hours as the contents cools down.
The unopened jars should keep for months, but once opened they should be refrigerated.