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Fruit butter is my favorite way to preserve. The simplicity and the fact that it uses the whole fruit. Fruit butter is fruit that has been cooked to a paste, condensed significantly, and sweetened. Apple butter is one of the most common, but I also love to make apricot, peach, and grape butter.
Years ago, apple butter was often made on farms amongst neighbors. Locals would gather together and use up all their extra apples, especially the ones that didn’t look as good. Back then, they cooked large quantities of the mixture over an outdoor fire in large brass kettles outside. It took hours to condense the fruit to a paste-like spread.
Apple butter still needs to be cooked for hours before it’s ready, but in these modern times (ha!), we’re lucky to have more options for cooking. For a long time, I would use the stove to make my apple butter. But this was often rather cumbersome: the mixture had to be constantly watched and could easily burn.
The light bulb moment was when I started using my slow cooker. By nature, slow cookers allow you the freedom to walk away without the need to babysit the mixture. The necessary hours of cooking can be done overnight and you’re likely to wake up to an amazing fragrance that fills the house, a welcome by-product.
Soon after publishing my slow cooker apple butter recipe, I started receiving requests for pumpkin butter. So I gladly made my version so everyone could enjoy it! While I love pumpkin butter, I find that pumpkin alone doesn’t have as much flavor and needs some additional sweetness. Mixing in apples with the pumpkin gives a richer consistency and acts as a natural sweetener.
Like most slow cooker recipes, this really is a set-it-and-forget recipe. To bring out the pumpkin, the spices are a bit different than traditional apple butter, harkening towards the flavors of pumpkin pie: spicy ginger, warm cinnamon, and bright allspice.
After the mixture cooks and is ready to blend, I add a little maple extract. While you may be tempted to swap out the extract for maple syrup, I’ve found that syrup is lost in the long cooking time and doesn’t lend any flavor. Extract add a condensed flavor and mixes with the spices to create a full-flavored fall treat.
Watch how to make this pumpkin apple butter:
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Apple Butter
- 8 cups chopped apples
- 6 cups peeled and cubed squash or pumpkin (I use kabocha squash)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- Pour all apples and squash into a 7-quart slow cooker.
- Add sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and salt. Stir to incorporate everything.
- Turn slow cooker on high for 8 hours.
- After the 8 hours, stir and continue to cook until the excess liquid has cooked off, about 2-4 hours.
- After the liquid has reduced and the butter has cooked at least 12 hours blend in a high-powered blender. Be sure to let the steam release while blending
- Let cool. Freeze or can the mixture