Cranberry Apple Butter takes the classic rich flavors of apple butter and adds a punch of tart flavor with fresh cranberries!
We have a little town near us called Julian. It’s an old west mining town in the hills north east of San Diego and it’s famous for its apple orchards. The Julian Pie Company sells pies all over the area and there are cute little pie stands by the road in and out of town. The other thing they make and sell is apple butter. It’s a little bit of heaven in a jar.
What is apple butter?
Apple butter is a spread that’s made from apples, a liquid of some kind (usually cider or water), sugar and spices. Basically, it’s the same thing as applesauce when it starts out. The difference is that it’s cooked for much longer, allowing the sugars to caramelize and the color and flavor to deepen.
When it’s finished cooking, you have a spread that’s perfect for toast, using as a baking substitute, or swirling through baked desserts. This recipe for Cranberry Apple Butter is a great spread for savory dishes, too! Pair it with pork or spread it on your leftover turkey sandwich.
Can I make this in my pressure cooker?
Yes and no. True apple butter needs time. It needs to cook low and slow for a very long time to cook away the liquids and really caramelize the sugars. Apples release natural pectin as they cook, which helps to thicken the spread.
However, you can significantly cut down the cook time by getting a head start with your pressure cooker! To make this Cranberry Apple Butter, I started with my Crockpot Express Cranberry Applesauce. It cooks down the cranberries and apples in minutes instead of hours.
The next step is to strain the applesauce and then allow that to cook down slowly in the slow cooker. If your pressure cooker has a “slow cook” setting, feel free to use that. I cooked mine for 8 hours and it was done and spreadable, but I think 12 hours would be even better for a richer flavor!
I don’t have a pressure cooker. Can I still make this recipe?
Yes! There are a couple ways to do this. One is on the stove top. If you have a good blender, you can start with the apples cut into quarters with the peels still on. Most of the pectin is in the cores, and the peels have lots of flavor.
Cook for 20 minutes or so in a pot and then puree the mixture and press it through a strainer to remove any chunks. After that is done, transfer it to the slow cooker to cook down on low for about 8 hours.
Another way to do this is simply add the ingredients below to your slow cooker and let them cook down on low all day long. The longer the better, so shoot for at least 12 hours on low. I’ve seen recipes that cook for two days! Stir, test and decide how long you want to cook.
When the time is up, use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Strain any bits that may be left over so you have a smooth spread. You can even return it to the pot to cook a bit more after you’ve strained the mixture.
What kind of apples should I use for Cranberry Apple Butter?
What kind you use is totally up to you. The sweeter the apple, the darker the color will be because of the sugar content. Here’s a list of a few common apple types from sweetest at the top to tartest at the bottom:
- Fuji (sweetest)
- Golden Delicious
- Red Delicious
- Pink Lady
- Granny Smith (tartest)
Cranberry Apple Butter
- 5-6 apples peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
- 1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar or honey optional
- Add apple chunks, cranberries, orange juice and cinnamon directly to the pressure cooker pot. (no need to stir)
- Close and lock the lid, turning the steam release valve to closed. Press Steam and adjust the time down to 5 minutes (high pressure.) Press Start/Stop.
- When the cook cycle has ended, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then open the the steam release valve to remove any remaining pressure in the pot.
- Open and stir the mixture, breaking apart any leftover chunks. Taste for desired sweetness. If necessary, stir in honey or sugar while it's still warm in the pot. Add in small increments until desired sweetness is reached.
- Use an immersion blender to mix until completely smooth, or strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove any chunks.
- Return to the pressure cooker and press Slow Cook. Set the time for 8-12 hours on high. Press Start/Stop. NOTE: if using a standard slow cooker rather than an electric pressure cooker on the slow cook setting, set the slow cooker to LOW instead of high.
- When finished cooking, spoon into jars and store in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken some as it cools. Yields about 1 1/2 pints of apple butter.