Apple butter, meet Instant Pot
December 16, 2015
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.
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:
(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.