How to make Apple Butter - Reader Request

We had a facebook friend comment on a photo we posted this fall and ask about how to make apple butter at home. Making apple butter is really a pretty simple process. Well, perhaps, that is only half true. The traditional way of "stirring" apple butter over a campfire in a kettle can take all day but if you don't have that kind of time, or a campfire, or a kettle don't worry! This recipe is the next best thing!

Homemade Crockpot Apple Butter by Walnut Creek local, Sarah Yoder
A note from Sarah
"I love apple butter but after years of making it at home I got a little bored. Most of the recipes out there are all the same.
Take apples, spices, sugar...cook it all down into mush and *poof* you have apple butter! Mine however is a little different, mostly because I like a really smooth texture to my apple butter. When I came up with this recipe my goal was to get as close to a "butter" consistency as I could. What did it take...a secret ingredient that's what!
Having said all that, I should also mention that I searched and searched to see if I could find another recipe that was similar to mine or used the same secret ingredient and I came up with NOTHING! So...I am going to say that this is my "original recipe", but who knows really..."nothing new under the sun" and all that! If your granny has been making it like this for the last 60 years, I'd love to know! Okay...let's get down to business!" 

This is what you will need: 
15 medium apples or 20 small apples - We love Galas and are lucky enough to be able to get them from Hillcrest Orchard right here in Walnut Creek!  
2 tablespoons of Vanilla Extract 
2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
And...for the secret ingredient! 

One 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

To begin, shred your apples, leaving the peels on. (Trust me on this the apple butter will cook down much quicker with the apples shredded into small pieces.
Add all ingredients (minus the brown sugar) into the crock pot. It is pretty sticky so use a rubber scraper to really make sure you get all of the sweetened condensed milk out of the can!

Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours stirring about every 45 minutes or so to make sure that nothing is burning on the bottom. I usually start my apple butter about 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon so that it can cook all through the evening. After it has cooked for 5-6 hours on high reduce heat to low and go to bed leaving the apple mixture to stew overnight.

The next morning your whole house is going to smell amazing (just a little bonus from making this recipe!) When you take the lid off the next morning you will see that the apples have broken down the rest of the way through-out the night. At this point, you can taste your mixture and add more spices if you like depending on your own pallet. This would also be the time that you might want to add 1/4 cup of brown sugar if you like a more sweet apple butter.

Now, for all intents and purposes at this point you have apple butter. This is where most recipes stop. But for me, at this stage, I like to get out my stick-blender and use it to really get all the lumps out! By using the sweetened condensed milk and blending it at this stage, I find that I can get a really nice "creamy or buttery" texture.  If you don't have a stick blender you can try a hand mixer or just use a large food processor or upright blender (but you might have to work in 2-3 batches.)

And, that's it! You can store this is the fridge for several months or try putting it in jelly jars and giving some away to friends and family as a memento of the time you spent here in Ohio's Amish Country!  
**Make sure to keep your jars in the fridge unless you are going to go through the added steps of canning the apple butter and properly sealing your jars.**