I have an Instant Pot. I love it. I have a slow-cooker. And I love that, too. And either is a great way to make fruit butter…but, today, we’re making Apple-Pear Butter…mmm…autumn in a jar! I love apple butter. Always have. There something about a grilled cheese, with sharp cheddar and a little smear of apple butter, that starts the day off just right! Apple butter is also wonderful smeared on a pork shoulder and cooked slowly to perfection. I decided that I wanted to make some apple butter, when I ran across a nice selection of fresh Eastern apples…Jonathans, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and a couple of Fuji thrown in, because I had them and they needed to be used. I also had about 3 large pears that needed attention, so here we are!
I decided I wanted to use the instant pot. I was going to make Apple-Pear Sauce, but I haven’t made apple butter is forever and I thought the Instant Pot could be an interesting experience. And it was. It worked very well to break down the fruit, but it took about 2 hours to get the consistency I wanted. I must say, I wasn’t stirring too frequently and nothing stuck to the bottom of the pot, which has always been my nemesis! Would I make it again…yes. I would. I’m thinking more pears, and finely shredded ginger root or lemongrass…and maybe just a pinch of cardamom. We’ll see. You’ll also note that this doesn’t have as much spice as many recipes…I wanted the spice to compliment the fruit, not overwhelm it.
I filled the Instant Pot liner to the 10 cup level, added the cider and lemon juice and put them under pressure for 8 minutes. I let the steam release naturally. The fruits were perfectly cooked. Now, I prefer a “rough” butter. To call is “chunky” is actually somewhat misleading, because it really isn’t too chunky, but it isn’t smooth either. Anyway, I find a good whisking breaks everything up nicely. I add the sugars at this point, but not the spices. I wait and add those nearer the end. I use ground spices, because I don’t want to mess around fishing out the whole spices. Yes, it darkens the butter slightly, but so does the brown sugar and the long cooking time. Turn the SAUTÉ setting to LESS, and the clock to 30 minutes. I draped a clean tea towel over the top. This is going to splatter, as it simmers and thickens, but you also need it to evaporate. The towel works on all levels and then can be tossed into the washing machine at the end. I repeated this three times, for a total of two hours. I gave it a bit of a stir, every 20-30 minutes. This worked very well, as nothing stuck to the bottom, which has always been an issue for me, when I make it on the top of the stove. I have heard of people who use the oven…but this worked well. Once the mixture is the consistency that you want, cool it to room temperature, pour into a container(s) and refrigerate…it will keep for about a month. I decided to can it. I filled 3 8-ounce canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head room, and sealed them. I washed out the the liner, placed it back in the Instant Pot, place the removable grate in the bottom, set the jars on top and filled the insert with hot water until it just covered the tops of the jars. I turned the SAUTÉ setting to HIGH and partially covered the pot with the lid. Don’t seal the Instant Pot lid. When the water began to boil, I set the timer for 10 minutes. When time was up, I turned off the Pot, removed the lid and let everything cool to room temperature. These will keep for at least a year or more. This also freezes very well. Make certain you leave enough head room to allow for the expansion that happens during freezing.
Chunky Apple (and Pear) Butter, Instant Pot
This is relatively easy to make, but it just takes time, though not much attention.
- 8-10 cooking apples, peeled cored and quartered (see NOTE)
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (you may need more if the apples are tart)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the apples (and pears, if using) in the Instant Pot; pour in the apple cider and lemon juice. Using the manual setting (pressure cook) set at HIGH pressure for 8 minutes; the valve should be in the closed position. After the 8 minutes expires, turn off and allow for natural pressure release. Remove the lid; whisk to break up into a more or less rough consistency. Use an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother butter. Add the sugars; give the mixture one final whisking. Turn Instant Pot to SAUTÉ; push the manual button to LESS. Wrap the lid with a clean tea towel and place the lid on, but slightly ajar. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency. It’s a good idea to give the mixture a stir now and then. This took two hours for me, or 4 sessions of 30 minutes each. After the second session, add the spices and kosher salt. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn off; let apple butter cool completely, if storing in the fridge.
To Can: Pour the hot apple butter into glass canning jars, wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth and seal. I hot water bath in the Instant Pot. Place the 3 jars on the removable grate. Pour in enough hot water to just cover. It will be very full. Turn on the SAUTÉ setting; set to HIGH. When the water boils, set the timer for 10 minutes. When the time expires, turn off the Instant Pot. You may either remove the jars to the counter (place a tea towel under them, please…we don’t want a broken jar). Or let the jars cool to room temperature in the pot.
To Freeze: Leave at least 1/2-inch of head room in the jars, to allow for expansion. Place upright in the freezer. Will keep for about 8-12 months.
NOTE: I filled the Instant Pot liner to the 10 cup level. I used a mixture of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan or Cortland (or both) and Fuji. If you can get Gravenstein, by all means use them…they are a fabulous apple, but not too readily available. If you want a smooth butter, an immersion blender is easier, but you may also use a food processor or a blender filled to no more than half full.
Chunky Apple (and Pear) Butter, Instant Pot Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.