If you’ve peeked at my cooking with tea recipes lately you’ll notice I’m a bit lazy. I’m all about minimal work for maximum flavor. Enter this slow cooker apple butter.
Apples, crystallized ginger, sugar, and a bold spice mix transform overnight in the slow cooker, emerging in the morning as the perfect fall spread for fresh-baked bread or unique sauce for roast pork dinner. I like to stir this spicy apple butter into yogurt and granola too.
Why this recipe works with tea: Tea is actually an optional component in the recipe. It’s more about creating strong chai flavors with a mix of spices, including cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. You can choose to incorporate black tea as part of your spice mix but the apple butter is just as tasty without it.
To me, a great chai seasoning is unapologetically gingery. I use crystallized ginger as a star ingredient in this apple butter to get that spicy-sweet kick.
The hardest part of this recipe is peeling six pounds of apples. Seriously, my fingers were sore after some quality time with a paring knife. But you could shortcut this and a few other steps in the process if you’re even lazier than me.
Tips to make this recipe even easier:
- Skip peeling the apples. You’ll still need to core and chop them, and your apple butter will be slightly pulpy.
- Instead of making a chai spice from scratch, use my cheater chai method of mixing 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice with 3/4 teaspoon cardamom.
- Pass on pureeing the apple butter in a blender. It will be chunkier but still just as tasty.
- Refrigerate the cooled, jarred apple butter instead of processing it in a water bath for canning. It will keep for several months in the fridge.
This homemade apple butter makes a thoughtful holiday gift. Trust me, no one will know you took any shortcuts.
Happy cooking & sipping!
Slow Cooker Chai-Ginger Apple Butter
By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie
Makes about 4 pints
6 pounds apples (ideally a mix of tart and sweet, like Granny Smith and Gala), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped crystallized ginger, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon ground black tea leaves (optional)
1. Place apples, ginger, and sugars in the slow cooker. Mix the spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over apples. Add water and stir to coat apples in spice mixture.
2. Set slow cooker to low and cook overnight for 10 hours. In the morning, uncover slow cooker and add lemon juice. Continue cooking apple butter on low for two more hours; this helps the mixture reduce and thicken a bit.
3. Once slow cooker is turned off, stir in ground black tea leaves if using. (Adding the tea at the end of the cooking process ensures it doesn’t make the apple butter too astringent or bitter.)
4. Puree apple butter (in batches if necessary) in a blender until smooth. (Or skip the blender and leave the apple butter chunky.) Transfer to sterilized glass canning jars. Process in a boiling water bath, covered by at least an inch of water, for 10 minutes if desired. (Or skip the canning and transfer to the fridge once cool.)
A few highlights from the preparation process: