Because I’ve posted over 100 recipes, sometimes I can’t believe it when I realize that one of our household favorites hasn’t made it onto the blog yet. This slow cooker salted date caramel apple butter is one of those recipes.
Last October, J and I went apple picking for the first time. It was kind of a bizarre day because it was over 90 degrees. That’s rare, but not completely unheard of for Baltimore in October. But the juxtaposition of sunglasses, shorts, flip-flops, and the smell of sunscreen with walking through a ripe apple orchard, multicolored leaves in the background, carrying a cute little basket of apples… that was endlessly funny to me.
30 pounds of apples later (what were we thinking?!) we came home realizing we needed a game plan. Both J and I far prefer eating apple pie to cooking it, so we went in search of other ways to use up all of the apples and I happened upon Keepin’ it Kind’s sugar-free apple butter recipe. That was actually my first experience with date caramel and it got me totally hooked. We made multiple batches in the first week.
It was so good that we wanted more of it immediately when our apple stockpile finally ran out. I started stopping by the farmers market every weekend to pick up baskets of bruised-up apples on markdown. We learned that it’s also great on rye bread, pancakes, and even in savory dishes if used judiciously (and with the vanilla extract omitted).
Needless to say, when autumn rolled around this year, we got pretty excited for salted date caramel apple butter season. In late September we got an apple picking trip and got back to butter making! Over time I’ve made some slight changes from the original recipe. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Slow Cooker Salted Date Caramel Apple Butter
- 6 cups chopped apples cores removed (you can choose to peel them or not)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1/3 cup pitted Medjool dates soaked for 2 hours in hot water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Add the apples to the slow cooker and sprinkle them with the ground cinnamon. Add the lemon juice and enough water to reach about 2 inches in height.
- Cook on 'high' for 3-4 hours, or until apples are fairly soft.
In a blender or food processor, combine the pitted dates, sea salt, vanilla and almond extract (if using) and non-dairy milk.
- Add the cooked apples and blend until completely smooth. Add more of the cooking juice from the apples if needed to blend.
- Return to the slow cooker and cook on high for another 1-2 hours, or until desired thickness is reached.
I used a mixture of about two thirds red apples and one third green apples.
If you can't get Medjool dates, you can use Deglet Noor or other dried dates, but you might want to increase the amount.
Adapted from salted date caramel apple butter by Keepin’ it Kind.