This spiced apple pear butter is elevated to something amazing by way of an unexpected surprise ingredient – apple cider vinegar. The result is a better balance of sweetness and acidity, making this canning recipe a seasonal favorite!
As the trees start to shed their leaves every fall, I haul out my water bath canner – if it was ever put away from my summer canning in the first place. It is in the late summer early/fall weeks that that my focus turns from eating fresh and straight out of the garden to putting up enough food to last us through the winter. In a day and age with grocery stores and the globalization of food crops, I am often pressed to answer why I am so compelled to preserve food. Why work so hard for so little, when thousands of jars, bags, and boxes of shelf stable food line the shelves of the local market? Why would I go to the effort of spending 16-18 hours trimming and blanching green beans for a mere 17 quarts in freezer. Why I would subject myself to the fiery burn of capsaicin after spending a day putting up salsa? Why would I reduce five pounds of fruit in a crockpot to a scant five pints of apple pear butter? Actual food scarcity doesn’t exist for the average middle class American. And though I have felt tremendous financial pressures and lean times — I have, fortunately, never experienced what it is like to go truly hungry. I am not talking about missing a few meals or having to get creative and ration stocks on hand until next paycheck. I am talking about long term hunger. I am talking about living in a “food dessert”. I am talking about having no access to wholesome foods — now or in the future. I am fortunate and immensely privileged, so why the heck do I panic a little when I haven’t met my self imposed arbitrary quota of canned recipes and otherwise preserved food.
Sometimes I wonder if the concept of bloodline, ancestral trauma drives these sentiments. Did the hunger of my ancestors leave an indelible mark on their DNA, which has expressed itself in me by way of canning apple pear butter while the rest of my family watches college football and enjoys the waning warmth of the early fall sunshine. Is it my grandmother’s childhood in Depression and post-Depression Era Nebraska that compels me to line the pantry with jams and jellies. Is it our Native American ancestry that drives me to collect the mahogany seeds from the curly dock? Our is it my Scottish great grandparents that fled the islands of the Outer Hebrides in the early 20th century to find a livelihood outside of the dangers of fishing that claimed the lives of untold numbers of their, our, ancestors?
I don’t know. Maybe I just like canning and I am glutton for punishment. Whatever the reason – when my pantry is well stocked with jars of pickles, jam, jellies, and fruit butters and loads of dried fruits, vegetables and herbs, and my freezer is full of home raised, hunted, and fished meats — I feel secure. I feel prepared. I feel comfortable. I know that my family can weather a financial blow or a minor disaster without going hungry for quite some time. It is a not so funny long-standing joke with more than a grain to nervous truth to it — that my extended family would converge on my homestead if the you-know-what ever really hit the proverbial fan. Apparently my ability to make medicine, soap, cheese, can foods and cure meat may be of use to them then.
So maybe that is why I will spend and entire day tending to a slow cooker full of gleaned fruit, adding spices and adjusting the acidity so that I can produce just a few jars of apple pear butter.
This apple pear butter recipe is prepared in the slow cooker and contains just the right amount of cinnamon and ginger to five it some soul warming spice but not venture into “apple pie” territory. It also features the most unlikely of ingredients for an otherwise “sweet” preserve: apple cider vinegar. Stop. Stop right there and quit snubbing your nose at the thought of adding vinegar to your apple pear butter recipe. If you wandered all the way thorough my tangential paragraphs above, you have to trust that I wouldn’t wax intellectual if I wasn’t super pleased with the recipe I am writing for you. This apple pear butter with apple cider vinegar is amazing. The addition of the apple cider vinegar not only contributes a tangy bite of balanced acidity to what could have been a simply sweet fruit butter, but it also reinforces the flavor of apples and compliments the pears beautifully. THIS is an apple pear butter that is equally tasty smeared on sourdough toast as it is paired with a funky blue cheese and topped with roasted walnut.
For this apple pear butter recipe, I chose apples that are on the somewhat tarter side and pears that have just recently gone yellow and soft. I remove and blemishes, stems, seeds and cores, but otherwise leave the fruit is large roughly cut chunks, skin intact. After about an hour or two on high heat the apples and pears are tender and I puree until smooth with a stick blender (alternately, you can use a blender or food processor in batches). I then add the spices, sugar, molasses, apple cider vinegar, as well as just a pinch of salt. This mixture is then cooked on high heat for another 3-4 hours or until the apple pear butter has become a rich caramel-y color, scraping down the sides of the crockpot every 30 minutes or so. Before ladling into hot jars, I give it a final whirl with the blender to incorporating any thicker bits from the slow cooker walls.
This apple pear butter recipe registers about 3.0 on a freshly calibrated handheld pH meter making it safe for water bath canning. This recipe, however, has not been reviewed by the USDA, so please feel to freeze the apple pear butter if would feel more comfortable.
Apple Pear Butter Canning Recipe
Sweet & Tangy Slow Cooker Apple Pear Butter with Apple Cider Vinegar
This recipe registers 3.0 on a pH meter making it safe for water bath canning, however this recipe has not been reviewed by the USDA. This recipe can also be frozen if you are more comfortable doing so.
Makes 5-6 pints.
- 2.5 lbs cored and de-stemmed apples skins intact and roughly chopped
- 2.5 lbs cored and de-stemmed pears skins intact and roughly chopped
- 1.25 cup organic sugar
- .25 cup molasses
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- .5 tablespoon ground ginger
- pinch of sea salt
- Place the prepared apples and pears in your crockpot/slow cooker with the lid on. Cook on high heat for approximately 1-1.5 hours until the fruit is very soft. Using an immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth. Alternately, you can puree in a blender or food processor in small batches.
- Add sugar, molasses, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir well to combine. Continue to cook uncovered in the slow cooker over high heat for 3-4 hours until the fruit butter is reduced by half. quite thick and a deep caramel color, scraping down the sides every 20-30 minutes. When fruit butter is ready to process, whirl it one more time with the immersion blender to achieve uniform consistency.
- Ladle into sanitized jars leaving at least 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of jars, place prepared lid, screw rings on finger-tight.
- At a rolling boiling in a water bath canner, process pints for 15 minutes or half pints for 10 minutes. After processing, remove from canner and allow to cool completely place on a towel.
- After cooled, check for seal and loosen or remove ring. Store in a cool, dark spot and use withing one year. Refrigerate after opening.