slow cooker salted caramel pear apple butter

posted in: cooking, Featured, preserving, recipes | 51

When I started writing about this recipe, hyperbolic adjectives like “easiest,” “darkest,” “richest” tried to creep into the title. Already a mouthful as it was, I resisted that urge. So just know, this is a most decadent fruit butter. While I usually sway towards unsweetened slow cooked butters, this recipe is deserved of the sweetness it receives. The brown sugar compliments the dark, lush caramelized flavors of the apples and pears. The sea salt adds that delicious savory edge that so many of us love in salted caramel.

It has become a really lovely treat for breakfast – I add a dollop to Greek yogurt and top with homemade granola. It’s sweet enough to balance the tart yogurt and adds great depth to the granola.

Also, can you imagine how delicious this butter would be spread between two layers of cake, covered with a luscious frosting? I think I might have a new dessert on my must-make list. Ooooh, and a great holiday gift would be a jar of homemade cake mix and a jar of salted caramel butter. I do have to emphasis that this might be the perfect holiday present for those of us who gift homemade goodies. For very low effort, you get an extreme payoff. The yield is large and the final product feels special.

Because the fruit cooks for so very long in the slow cooker, the color is much deeper than many fruit butters. The cooking time also allows the peeling to disintegrate and become one with the rest of the fruit’s flesh. So all you have to do is halve and core your fruit, toss all ingredients in and walk away. In addition, what sort of apples and pears used is absolutely flexible. I happened to have 3.5 pounds of each fruit exactly, but all apples, or all pears, or whatever ratio you have, use it!

slow cooker salted caramel pear apple butter

adapted from epicurious and knit & nosh,

makes four pints

  • 3.5 pounds apples
  • 3.5 pounds pears
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract - or a spent vanilla bean pod]
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a large slow cooker [6-8 quarts]. Turn the slow cooker on low and cover. Walk away for twelve hours.
  2. Now return to the slow cooker. Using an immersion blender or potato masher, puree the fruit mixture until smooth.
  3. Prop the lid partially ajar using a wooden spoon or chopstick. Keep the slow cooker on low. Let cook for up to twelve hours.
  4. Around eight hours in the second cycle, return, stir and check the taste and consistency. [You can adjust the salt, sugar, and add any spices if you'd like then.] I like to let the fruit butter get very dark and cooked down, but you can adjust to your liking. My final product cooked the full 24 hours.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks or water bath process. Ladle the butter in to hot, sanitized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

51 Responses

  1. Can you share what spices you use? This looks amazing! I would love to make it and give as Christmas gifts(:

  2. Sarah,
    Spices are totally optional. I don’t use any, I just like the vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors to shine. I know cinnamon is a popular choice in apple butters, but I am sort of over the cinnamon+apple combo.
    A dash of five spice, or cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe a little bit of cloves, even just a bit of “pie spice” would all be good. Depends on what you like.
    Emily

  3. Michelle

    That looks and sounds so decadent. I think I will be giving it a try. This will be a great addition to some of the other gifts coming out of my kitchen.

  4. This sounds amazing.I love the addition of salt. Some nice vanilla ice cream and this. Some toast and this. yogurt. granola. just a spoon. mmmmm ;) Thanks for sharing it. I’ll definitely be making this.

  5. This is just what I was looking for. I still have a bunch of apples to use from my 40 lb box I got recently. Yummy! I can’t wait, plus perfect for Christmas. :)

  6. Do you put the apples and pears in whole? Or do you peel and core them? This sounds great and I will definitly try this. YUMMY!! :)

  7. Kim, I halve and core. The peeling cooks down in the long amount of time in the slow cooker, so no need to peel.

  8. This sounds awesome. I am definitely going to try this and add some nutmeg and cardamom. Thanks!

  9. Yum!
    But be careful if using cloves if you are going to can it for long storage. The cloves keep getting more and more powerful through time and the end product can be really yucky and bitter. Ask me how I know….. sigh.

  10. You don’t need to use any hyperbolic adjectives to convince me, although they do help. Wow does this ever sound good! Your Greek yogurt breakfast with this fruit butter sounds like something I’d love. Now, If I could just figure out how to make this in my pressure cooker, since it’s my slow-cooker substitute.

  11. Hey Rachel, if you take a look at the two recipes that I adapted mine from, both were made on the stovetop. So it’s definitely doable! I’d probably peel the fruit for a stovetop version, but otherwise a large pot and some time on low to medium heat, and you’d probably be juuuuust fine. :)

  12. What kind of slow cooker do you have? I have a newish 6 quart one – which I find burns the hell out of any fruit butter I make unless I stir it alot. I’m thinking of kidnapping my mom’s small 70s one.

  13. I’m making this today for a food swap tomorrow! I’m excited

  14. Charissa

    Would you recommend making this without a slow cooker? If so how?

  15. Sounds yummy! How long does it keep if you use the hot water bath?

  16. Oh man, I’ve mistakenly left whole sticks of cinnamon in jarred fruits (a few jars of peaches and nectarines in syrup). Open them up a few seasons later to pure cinnamon slices. Lesson sadly learned.

  17. Kate,
    I have a new Kitchenaid slow cooker, 6 quarts too (I think). It works like a charm, doesn’t burn things (or hasn’t yet – I’ve only had it a few months).
    Before I won this slow cooker (at a food event), I had a Hamilton Beach cooker that I did have to watch and stir more often. It tended to burn the edges sometimes. How quickly I forget about that!

  18. Hey Charissa,
    The two recipes I adapted this from were made on the stove top. I have NOT made it on the stove top but I can deduce a general technique if I wanted to do so. My recommendations:
    Peel the fruit. Cook the fruit, lemon and water on medium until soft (like apple sauce). Puree.
    Strain through a food mill if you feel especially fancy (or particular).
    Put back in pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil (to help dissolve the sugar).
    Cook, with lid off, on medium low. Stir often. Remove from stove when the texture is to your liking. (Probably about an hour?)

  19. Emily,
    If you waterbath process safe (tried and true, tested) recipes, you should be able to store the product on your pantry shelf somewhat indefinitely. The general rule of thumb is to eat it within a year. After a year, the texture and color of the jam, butter, pickle, etc can change. It’s still safe to eat, not as pretty I think that butters are especially fine because the texture isn’t really a concern and a brown butter is a brown butter, ya know? Use your nose and eyes – you’ll know when a canned goodie is “not right.”

  20. I just finished processing this in my canner and I’m not ashamed to say that I licked the spoon I used to ladle the butter into the jars clean. And spooned out and ate any remnants left in the slow cooker. This is delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Jasmine, I’m so happy to hear this! :D

  22. I am thinking of making this but leaving out the pear (i don’t care for it). Do you think the recipe will work if I start with applesauce (that’s what i have on hand) and add the rest of the ingredients to the applesauce then cook in the slow cooker? How much apple sauce should i use?
    Thanks! :D

  23. I am finally out of apples, but this is so very tempting….I’m with you on being “over” the apple and cinnamon apple butter pairing. The one I made this season I used nutmeg, clove and vanilla instead plus a small dash of cinnamon.

  24. this looks like a recipe to try! i have a 4 qt. crockpot — do you think i should half the recipe? and when you say a “spent” vanilla bean, do you mean one already scraped? thank you!

  25. Michon,
    You might want to scale it back with a 4 qt crockpot. Half of 3/4th of the original recipe, or whatever will fit in the pot!
    And yes, a ‘spent’ vanilla bean would be one that’s already scraped. You’re welcome to use a fresh, new bean but it’s really not necessary. But with the slow cooking, an already scraped bean will still let off a lot of flavor. I like to store spent beans in sugar, giving you vanilla sugar. Then you can just retrieve a whole or half pod as you need.

  26. MP, I don’t have any experience cooking apple butter from apple sauce. Not to be a total food snob, but is the sauce homemade? Or a good quality unsweetened sauce? If so, you’re probably fine. But I’m not sure how much to use. You could let it cook down until almost done and THEN add the brown sugar to taste, along with salt.
    If you experiment with this, let me know how it turns out!

  27. [...] pears for awhile, and last week I got some apples. My friend Emily at Nomnivorous happened to make Salted Caramel Apple Pear Butter this week, and I thought I would do the same. I am not a sweets person, I like fruit on its own. I [...]

  28. I could impress a ton a friends with this recipe :) hehehe

  29. tami mayhew

    This is so very good and just different enough that people will take notice. I must have used some pretty sour apples because I had to add another 1/2 cup of brown sugar at the 8 hour mark, and I added about 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg because it’s such a holiday tasting spice. Thank you for posting this. I made cinnamon scones and giving them away with this delicious apple butter!

  30. Epic success! I’m so glad I made this, turned out great. Thanks so much for posting the recipe! I did do a couple of things different – I didn’t want to sweeten it right away as I wouldn’t be home to watch it and ensure it wasn’t burning, so I added the brown sugar later on. Didn’t have vanilla bean, so just added some vanilla extract. Also tossed in a splash of Sailor Jerry’s rum, freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon. Just one problem – I’m now not sure whether I really want to give it away! :o )

  31. Maribeth

    Gosh, I would love to try this… If I halved the recipe would that affect the cooking time?? I don’t work with slow cookers often enough to know this sort of thing…

  32. Rachel Hile

    I love this recipe! This morning I made these muffins with a jar of it and thought others might enjoy it, too:

    Apple Butter Muffins

    1 1/3 C. white flour
    2/3 C. whole wheat flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 C. sugar
    1/2 C. vegetable oil
    2 eggs
    1 C. salted caramel apple-pear butter
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/4 C. water

    Topping:
    1/2 C. oats
    1/3 C. brown sugar
    3 T. butter

    Mix together dry ingredients; add in wet ingredients and mix. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake muffins at 375 for 18 minutes or until done. Makes 15 muffins.

  33. I am in love with this idea, and ive never heard of apple butter before now, so Im feeling like I need to make this NOW.

    I have never made any to put in a jar. So im guessing that once jars are filled and the tops are screwed on I place them in a pot and boil the whole thing for 10 minutes?? Thank you!!!

  34. Yes, you got it! Get the water boiling, fill the hot jars, add them to the water and bring back to a boil. Process for 10 minutes in the boiling water, remove and they should seal!

  35. I just made a batch of this today. Awesome recipe! I gave some to my neighbor as a thank you for some tomatoes. His wife came over only a few hours later to ask for the recipe.

  36. [...] Salted Carmel Apple Butter — FAIL!!! Started this last night in hopes to can with Angela this afternoon. My crockpot [...]

  37. Is this 2 cups of dark brown sugar packed? Or can I use a 1 pound box of dark brown sugar?

  38. Hi Linda,
    Two cups of sugar is a little short of a pound of brown sugar. But you’re welcome to use the whole pound. If may come out a little sweeter, but you can always add some additional salt at the end.

  39. [...] I am on a caramelizing kick. First, this Salted Caramel Pear Apple Butter. Then butternut squash. Last week was Roasted [...]

  40. I’d love to make this, and the first photo won’t load now. If made in the crockpot, do I peal, core and chop the fruit? I see in the reply section it says to do so if you make it on the stove top, but I don’t see any directions in the list. I also don’t see anything about a food mill for the crockpot version. Thank you so much, off to the store for the ingredients!

  41. I see it now, leave the peels on and it disintegrates! So cool. Thank you. I’m a teacher and I guess I’m bad at reading for comprehension!

  42. I think this recipe sounds divine! I gave it a go and have to sadly report that the end product is bitter – very molasses-y. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  43. I just picked some free pears (woo hoo!) and I don’t have a scale. A couple of questions: Would this work with just pears? And about how many pears is 3.5 pounds? I know most canning recipes give you a cup amount, but since this is just in the slow cooker there’s no need to measure. :)

  44. Hi Lara,

    I’m sorry to hear it was bitter. A few things could be the case – toooo much cooking/possible burning in the slow cooker could give that bitterness. (Think of when you make caramel and take it too far.) Or the fruit itself might have been a little bitter. I’m sorry for that. Perhaps some additional brown sugar could help tame the bitterness?

  45. Hi Erin,

    I’m sure pear butter would be just fine. The amount of pears, I’m not sure about. You could start with a small amount of brown sugar and lemon juice until it cooks down (to like pear sauce) and taste to adjust.

  46. Thanks!!!

  47. You are a genius!! We shared this with our FB readers at homesteadlady.com.

  48. Thanks for the recipe! Found this a couple of months ago when I was searching for a different recipe and bookmarked until pear season. Forogt to checkthe recipe before going to th fruit stand so just got the pears and forgot the apples. Ended up using what I had on hand so it was about a 2:1 ratio of pears to apples. Still turned out very tasty. Also forgot to check the pounds needed at the fruit stand so ended up with about 14 pounds, lol. Enough though that I did 12 half pints as written and added a very small amount of garam masala to the remainder I’d also made up and did 12 more half pints. The amount of gm was very small but just enough to add a hint of, “what’s that flavor?”I’ll definitely be making this next year but will wait and use a mix of Bosc pears and maybe a Braeburn or Jonagold (Bartlett and red delicious used this year). Again, thank you for the great recipe.

  49. Wow…
    I had an over abundance of apples and pears. This recipe was perfect to use them up! Such a convenient recipe for putting together before work in the morning! Great not to have to peel the fruit. I used a melon baller to scoop out the core of the apple and pear. Go ahead and stuff the fruit into the crock pot because it cooks way down. So easy and the result is so delicious!

  50. Thank you so much! This is so fabulous and you eliminated so many steps that it is actually just fun to make and the results are so rewarding. I’m sharing my SCSCPAB with alot of friends and family as well as your recipe. Thanks again!
    P.S. Now I use the crockpot to cook pears or apples after I put them through the Kitchen Aid
    grinder/strainer. Then to a hot twater bath to make sauce, apple or pear. My inspiration was a combined method using your method and Farmgirl Fare method- http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2009/10/less-fuss-more-flavor-recipe-how-to.html. My pears were soft so they went straight to the Kitchen Aid after being washed and quartered. This way all the water that the fruit was formerly cooked in isn’t wasted. That entire step is eliminated. Great results -thanks to you two wonderful women taking the time to post!

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