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.

Why?

  • 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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

A Month with the Instant Pot

Amanda got me an Instant Pot for Christmas! I’ve used it now for about a month and I love it.

Some observations:

  • I use this so much more than I ever used my stovetop pressure cooker. The stovetop one needed babysitting and I was never completely convinced that it wouldn’t explode. The Instant Pot doesn’t need babysitting, has safety features and failsafes, and is more exact than the stovetop one.
  • It takes at least 15 minutes to come up to pressure and another 5 to come down with the quick release. Plan accordingly.
  • It cooks rice like a charm. I couldn’t justify getting a rice cooker because we don’t eat THAT much rice, but now that the Instant Pot can make great rice, I’m pumped. My first trial was successful.
  • While it is great at curry and great at rice, cooking one and then cleaning it out to cook the other in the same night does not save time. Plan ahead accordingly. I tend to make stovetop curries anyway.
  • It is great for hearty winter meals. I wonder if I’ll use it as much during the summer?
  • It is great for meats, soups, stews, rice, beans, lentils, etc. Probably not worth the effort for things that would normally take just 10 minutes to steam.

Meals I’ve made with the Instant Pot so far:

  1. The Food Lab’s Pho Ga 🍲 🐓
  2. Nom Nom Paleo’s Kalua Pig 🐖
  3. The Food Lab’s Ragu Bolognese 🍝
  4. Nom Nom Paleo’s Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup 🥦
  5. Sausage, lentil, potato 🥔 , and kale soup (my own recipe, adapted for the Instant Pot – brown sausage, dump in everything else, high pressure for 30 minutes, quick release)
  6. Chicken, Wild Rice, and Mushroom 🍄 soup adapted for the pressure cooker (sear chicken first, dump rice in uncooked, 35 minutes on high pressure, quick release)
  7. The Food Lab’s Chicken Chili Verde
  8. Rice for a stovetop curry 🍛

One book that helped me figure out what the Instant Pot is best for (and gave me great recipe ideas!) is Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark. Our friends Tyler and Erin made a great braised pork recipe out of this book when they had us over for dinner in December and I bought the book right away.

Here is a great quote from the intro:

In this book, I focus on the machine’s strengths, writing not about what you can make in it, but what you should make because the electric pressure cooker does it better–faster or more flavorfully, or with less mess and/or stress. The key to successful pressure cooking is choosing recipes in which softness and succulence is the goal, and which traditionally take hours to get there. It can’t cook a whole chicken very well, and it doesn’t do crisp or crunchy. So don’t ask it to and you won’t be disappointed.

What I want to try making next in the Instant Pot:

  • Yogurt
  • Chili
  • Black bean and ham soup
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Tagine
  • Elaichi gosht (lamb with cardamom)

I’ll post some of my own Instant Pot recipes soon, so stay tuned!