Wild Thistle Kitchen: Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow cooker apple butter. Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Wild Thistle Kitchen.

This slow cooker apple butter could not be easier. I got the inspiration and the itch to make some apple butter from seeing so many of my foodie friends making it once fall arrived. So I started scouring the internet and Pinterest for apple butter ideas and quickly decided to take matters into my own hands.

My biggest problem with most apple butter recipes is that they are LOADED with sugar. If you use the right kind of apple, you really don’t need any sugar at all. I went with some local Empire apples that have just the right balance of sweet and tart. I used maple syrup to add just a bit of sweetness — still a fraction of the amounts most recipes call for. That and a few cinnamon sticks and you are on your way to a delicious batch of apple butter.

My last little twist is to add some acidity. Balanced flavors are so important to me and to my style of cooking. In an effort to create a more balanced apple butter — and to put my little twist on it — I add a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s a subtle difference, but so worth it.

Make this on a lazy weekend day and enjoy the slow process and the wonderful aroma that will fill your house as it cooks. And while you’re at it, make some homemade bread so you have something to slather this apple butter on when it’s done. Might I suggest my homemade Honey White Sandwich Bread? That is the loaf pictured here and it is truly the best!

I like to lightly toast a nice thick slice, spread on some good, salted butter and then add the apple butter on top. It is so, so good!

 

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Ingredients

4 lbs. apples, cored and chopped (choose a sweeter variety such as Empire, Fuji or Gala)

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

1 split vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 cup apple juice or cider

1 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, until apples are very soft and falling apart. Remove cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean.

Transfer apples and juices to high-powered blender or food processor. Make sure to work in batches and do not overfill or you will risk burning yourself once you start blending. Blend until you have a nice, smooth consistency. I really let it go because I prefer a very smooth apple butter.

Once it is all blended, return to slow cooker and cook another 2 to 4 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, jam-like texture. It will firm up more after chilling as well.

Transfer apple butter to jars or containers of your choice. I chose 6 8-ounce jars.

Notes

  • No need to peel the apples!
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Apple reveals opening date and interior photos of floating Singapore store

Apple’s new Marina Bay Sands store in Singapore is opening on Thursday, Sept. 10. 

The retail outlet attracted attention last month, even before opening, as it is truly different from every other Apple store — it’s a floating, glowing sphere, located in front of the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. 

Now, in a blog post, Apple has shared some more info about the store that’s nearly ready to start welcoming visitors. The company says its dome is an all-glass structure comprised of 114 pieces of glass, additionally supported with 10 vertical mullions. This way, the store will provide its visitors a 360-degree view of the surrounding skyline, and the opening on top of the dome will provide natural light to the interior. 

Apple reveals opening date and interior photos of floating Singapore store

The top floor of the store also has a Forum with a massive video wall. The company plans to use it for its Today at Apple sessions, with Singapore’s artists and musicians taking the stage. 

Apple reveals opening date and interior photos of floating Singapore store

The lower level of the store will host Apple’s first underwater boardroom, serving as a meeting place between entrepreneurs, developers, and Apple’s team members. 

Apple reveals opening date and interior photos of floating Singapore store

Apple says the store will be run by a 148-person team, and points out that rigorous health measures will be implemented, including mask requirements, temperature checks, and social distancing. 

The store officially opens on Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. SGT. 

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How Your Old Carrot Peels and Apple Cores Can Make You Healthier and Be Kind to the Planet Too

You may think that throwing your carrot peelings and apple cores in the garbage has no effect since they will decompose anyway. But even natural plant matter will last for years when it's sealed in a plastic bag and tossed into a landfill.

As a great example of community responsibility, the city of Seattle, WA offers free composting bins to all residents. This keeps over 800 million pounds of garbage out of their landfills! Not only can you help divert your own kitchen waste from the dump, but you can create rich nourishing humus for your own garden, whether it's an acre or an old wine barrel on your patio.

WHY SHOULD I COMPOST?

o Over 21 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the USA. If this were composted, the greenhouse gases saved would equal taking over 2 million cars off the roads.

o You will add valuable nutrients back into the soil and your garden will be healthier and your vegetables will be more nourishing to you and your family.

o You will save money by not having to buy garden soil and mulching materials, and that will save the energy to transport those products to your store and your garden.

WHAT IS COMPOST?

When organic materials such as leaves, vegetable food scraps, manure, and garden waste decompose in a controlled environment (your composting bin), a rich and fertile humus is created that will improve and fertilize your garden soil.

Your plants are much healthier because:
o nutrients are added
o drainage is greatly improved, if your soil has a lot of clay in it
o if your soil is sandy, the compost helps it to retain water

If your compost pile is cool, worms and insects will find their way into it and help to transform your waste into food for your garden. But it helps to get the conditions right. Provide these friendly critters with sufficient air, water and food, and they will be your garden's best friends.

IS COMMERCIAL COMPOST THE SAME AS "HOME-MADE"?

Homemade compost is better for microbes and nutrient diversity, but bagged compost does provide organic matter and some microbes. Beware that composted manure may be mostly water by weight.

If you have a large garden where the soil needs added nutrients, you may want to purchase cheap bags of composted manure or bulk compost from a local commercial composter, then add your own compost as needed.

If you are purchasing compost, keep in mind that there are no regulatory labeling requirements on bagged compost. Grade A composted sewage sludge is probably the safest, because it is the only type of compost that requires testing for heavy metals and pathogens before it is approved for sale to the public. Feedlot manure is much more dangerous from a pathogen point of view, since testing is not required.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE?

Even if you only have a small apartment balcony or back porch, you can compost in …

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