Apple butter, meet Instant Pot

December 16, 2015

Apple butter. Lots of it.

Apple butter. Lots of it.

Me and the Instant Pot, we’ve been making apple butter.

I am here to be the first to tell you the Instant Pot, my newest, favoritest kitchen toy of the moment, does a most excellent job making apple butter. And, bless its little computerized heart, it got a workout, cooking four batches of apples and then a batch of beans.

It would be convenient if this thing were twice as big. Except when it wouldn’t be.

However, it does simplify the making of apple butter, in which I may have gone slightly overboard. But then again, nine pints and 12 half-pints is not excessive when you’re talking latkes and Dutch babies and giving it for Christmas gifts, I don’t think.

M’mmm. I think I want latkes tomorrow.

Arkansas Black apples. Best in the world for apple butter.

Arkansas Black apples. Best in the world for apple butter.

In any event, that is how much apple butter 20 pounds of Arkansas Black apples will make. And it is GOOD apple butter, if I do say so myownself, because I personally taste-tested it. And the Instant Pot makes it easier, because even though it’s still a two-stage cooking process, the second cook doesn’t take nearly as long because there isn’t as much liquid used in the initial cook. Thusly:

After 20 minutes in the Instant Pot.

After 20 minutes in the Instant Pot.

(For recipe purposes, I’m going to give you directions for five pounds of apples, which is more like an amount a rational person would choose to process into apple butter. Plus, it’s a tad less than an Instant Pot full.)

  • 5 pounds tart apples of your choice (Gala, Fuji or Arkansas Black are good choices; Granny Smith would also work, though they’re more tart than the first three)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Cut the apples in quarters. Don’t peel or core them; a lot of natural pectin, the material that thickens jams and jellies, resides there, and you want it. We’ll deal with peels and seeds later. Pile them into the Instant Pot, or into a pressure cooker or a Dutch oven, and add two cups of sugar. If you’re using an IP or other pressure-cooker vessel, or even a slow-cooker, add the listed amount of vinegar and water; if a Dutch oven, go up to about 1/2 cup each.

In the IP, cook the apples on “steam” for 20 minutes, with a natural steam release.This will be enough to completely cook the apples to the point they’re soft, brown, and start to disintegrate. On the stovetop, bring to a boil over medium high heat, then quickly lower to medium low and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes to an hour, until apples reach the same stage.

Using a food mill with its medium plate, or a chinois, or in a pinch a colander, press the pulp into a Dutch oven. Add the remaining sugar and spices; simmer for an hour or so over very low heat, until the apple puree thickens and darkens more.

I’m not certain but what you could do this on the slow-cook function in the IP. I was otherwise using the IP, so I didn’t, plus I had significantly more puree than it would hold.

Process 15 minutes in a water-bath canner, or freeze in pint containers. Keeps 2-3 weeks, opened, in the fridge.

This is a good, basic apple butter. It’s flavorful, but the apple flavor still comes through amid the spices, which are prominent. I love the Arkansas Black apples in this; they are just made for apple butter, and are worth hunting down if you live in a part of the world where they’re available. Fiji would probably be my next choice.

The key to it, I think, is the initial cook with the vinegar added. There is no vinegar taste at all in the finished product, but it lends a bass note that is lacking in a lot of apple butters.

There is still more Christmas baking/candymaking to do. If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want to come help, I’ll make us some latkes and we’ll try this apple butter out.


17 Responses to “Apple butter, meet Instant Pot”

  1. What is an instant pot? Is that the name brand? The Apple Butter looks oh so delicious! Will adding less sugar change the consistency? I would like to make the apple butter recipe but use less sugar. Thanks.

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    The Instant Pot is a multi-function creature that serves as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker or a Dutch oven. I got one when Amazon put them on sale on Cyber Monday. Retiring my Crock-Pot and rice cooker, and haven’t had a pressure cooker in ages.

  3. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    And regarding less sugar — I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with less.

  4. Janet Says:

    Is it okay to use apple cider vinegar as opposed to cider vinegar?

  5. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Absolutely! That’s what I meant. To me, cider vinegar is always apple cider vinegar. I guess, theoretically, one could have pear cider vinegar or some other fruit cider vinegar, but apple is generally what you see, and what I always keep on hand.

  6. Your applie butter looks delicious!

  7. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Thanks! I’ve made it before, but this was the best batch ever. I think it was the Arkansas Black apples that made the difference. I also do peach butter during fresh peach season.

  8. Drew Douglsss Says:

    Thanks for taking the time and care in posting this. I’m from Pennsylvania originally and grew up with my Mom making fabulous apple butter from scratch, and now, 20 years later here in California, I find myself longing for dishes I grew up with. Mom is gone, but I connect with her through her recipes. But apple butter has always been a challenge…its like a whole day making it and that’s tough to carve out nowadays.

    Also at the same time, I should add that beyond sentimentality, commercial apple butters (hard to find in CA, but even online) pale in comparison to homemade.

    Flash forward to the InstantPot (IP)… it has leveled the playing field in regards to time. It struck me today when I made some blah toast that IP could do apple butter well. I knew the recipe would be different (less liquid) but there would be some OCD person (meant in a way I know you will find complimentary, LOL).

    I searched all around for the right recipe and cant wait to try it. Thank you again!


  9. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    I hope you’re as happy with it as I have been! I doubt you can get Arkansas Black apples out there…a good sweet-tart red should work fairly well. Maybe a Winesap?

    I purely LOVE my Instant Pot. It, my Anova and my Kitchenaid stand mixer are the three appliances I don’t think I could live without.

  10. […] babies would be perfect for a batch of dark, rich apple butter.  Inspired by fellow foodbloggers,  Kay at the Keyboard and Bakerita , I set out to make a batch of Homemade Apple Butter that would do those beautiful […]

  11. Katelyn Says:

    Is that enough water for the IP to come to pressure? And did you use the trivet or anything to keep the apples off the bottom? Excited to try this!

  12. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Yes, it’s enough, and no, I didn’t use the trivet. Worked like a charm!

  13. Jen Says:

    I tried the recipe using a different apple earlier on in the season – I think it was a winesap. Didn’t come out very well. Using the IP as a crock pot to get it to thicken does NOT work, by the way.
    We just did a batch yesterday and then put it back in the crock pot today to warm it back up as well as boil it down a bit thicker. We used the Arkansas Black this time – MUCH better flavor. We got a 1/2 bushel of them, but I think we are going to have to drive back to the orchard and get some more! I tried my hand at canning – so far, so good (I’ve never done apple butter OR canning before this weekend – I think it suits me…). I ordered a food press as well as some basic canning supplies today. We are going to do some more up and give out as gifts this Christmas and send to relatives. The flavor is fantastic! We may cut a bit on the sugar – my husband liked it (strange as I have the sweet tooth) and I actually found it a tad too sweet for me! So, we can always add more in the crock pot if we need to. However, the other spices with the Arkansas Black just WORK! Thanks for posting – it was hard to find a good recipe that also uses the IP – we are also fans of it and LOVE using it for anything we can! We did the sweet potatoes in it last year for Christmas – and the texture of the sweet potato souffle was SO much better than the regular boiling of them 🙂

  14. Jen Says:

    Oh- and forgot to mention. We used an Immersion Blender right near the end when it was thickening up – WOW. This is another kitchen tool that is just fantastic! It really made the butter much, much smoother. We had to press the pulp through a colander – so maybe when I use the food press, it will help the consistency. But, the blender made a significant difference in the smoothness of the butter. 🙂

  15. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Glad it worked well for you! I LOVE Arkansas Blacks. I have a half-bushel of them in my laundry room that need to be made into apple butter and canned tomorrow or Tuesday. They make all the difference in the world.

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