Apple butter is a pantry staple for us – a quick smear adds moisture and sweetness to pancakes, toast, a raw apple slice… It’s January, but the apples coming from the store are still very good – thanks to cold storage, controlled atmosphere (low oxygen, high carbon dioxide) and things I prefer not to think about: fungicide and the relatively new gaseous compound, 1-methylcyclopropene. The ultimate kid fruit available year round… hooray!
At least that’s how I feel after discovering the apple corer-peeler-slicer. And suddenly, the kids can make apple butter all by themselves.
Step 1, remove any stickers from the apples.
Step 2, put the apple on the pike and crank the handle. So easy a toddler can do it…
… to his great satisfaction.
I put each apple on the mechanism and pull each core off. “I can crank it faster,” boasts Mingus and he takes a turn. “I want do it,” cries Beluga and they alternate turns. In ten minutes, the apples are sliced. Beluga noshes on the cut apple and the snake-like peel enthralls Mingus. As he nibbles it, I try not to think of 1-methylcyclopropene.
The apple slices go into the slow cooker (before they get thrown across the room, mistaken for balls).
Beluga has picked up the big orange knife, so I hand him a lemon. He tries to poke it into the skin as Mingus simulates a slicing motion, complete with chainsaw sound effects.
Mingus finishes the job.
Beluga, at 23 months, is still developing enough motor skills to use his wooden juicer, so I guide his hands. A scabbed boo boo on his thumb seers with pain when it hits the acid. This has happened before. There are tears, he howls and I rush him to the sink. My cooking team is down a man. We call a time out.
An hour later, Mingus asks to resume the apple butter project. The apples are in the pot. All he must do is add a little water…
shake in a few seasonings…
put the lid on…
…and start the cooker.
The aroma soon spreads throughout our home.
Cooked down, a little mashing turns it into applesauce.
A little sugar and another round of cooking (more patience) turns it into apple butter. Yum!
- 6 Apples
- A jar of Cinnamon with a lid that has holes
- A jar of Nutmeg with a lid that has holes
- A jar of Allspice with a lid that has holes
- 1 Cup of Water
- 1 Lemon
- ½ Cup Sugar
- Remove the stickers from the apples.
- One at a time, using an apple corer-peeler-slicer, a child can prepare the apples for cooking. Thow away the peel and place the apples into the slow cooker.
- A child can ream the lemon, collect the juice in a bowl and fish out the seeds.
- Now it is time to add all the extra ingredients to the apples. A child can fill a small cup with water and pour it into the slow cooker. Exact measurement is not important, approximately a cup will do. Then the child can count 10 shakes of the cinnamon jar, 5 shakes of Nutmeg and 5 shakes of Allspice onto the apples. Again, exact measurement is not necessary and counting shakes is easier for a small child than measuring tablespoons and teaspoons.
- Select “slow cook” on “low” for 4 hours.
- At the end of 4 hours, an adult should remove the lid, allowing hot steam to escape. A child can mash the apples with a wooden spoon. The applesauce is warm at this point, so care should be taken. Add the sugar and stir.
- Then, with the lid remaining off, select “slow cook” on “high” for 2 hours. If, at the end of the two hours, there is still excess liquid, continue cooking until the mixture turns from apple sauce to a nice thick, dark apple butter.