Happy November! I believe this is the month we all look forward to. Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself. Hmm! Let’s find out…how many of you LOVE November because it kicks off the holiday season? Alright, I see ya! The absolute best part of the holiday season is the FOOD, in my humble opinion. Nothing screams fall like hot chocolate, wassail, apples and apple butter, caramel, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes! Today, we are here to celebrate all of the splendor of apple butter with my Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter. If you aren’t familiar with apple butter it is a thickened applesauce that is a bit sweeter because of the concentration of the natural sugars in the apples from the simmering. Apple butter usually has all of your favorite fall spices!
Did you grow up eating apple butter? Honestly, I did not grow up eating it, I’ve been fascinated with apple butter since I’ve been an adult. I honestly wish I could’ve grown up eating peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches prepared by my loving mother. I’m not even sure if that’s a thing! LOL Having never really liked PB&J sandwiches I am almost positive I would’ve eaten PB&AB sandwiches instead. (Is that even an appropriate acronym?)
Anyway, this is my second year in a row making apple butter from scratch. This year I wanted to cut back on the amount of sugar used AND I wanted to cut back on the time used as well. So I decided to break out my Instant Pot and use dates to sweeten this. Behold, my Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter! Boy, was this SO simple to whip up! I’m sure you are wondering, “Why dates?” Dates are being utilized because they are like nature’s fibrous sugar that lends a caramel-like sweetness to foods! I used Deglet Nour dates because they are cheaper than Mejdool dates, they also aren’t as sweet as Mejdool. Use whatever your budget allows because they are both great options!
Tips for Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter
Please try to use organic apples for this Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter if you will be using the peels of the apples! If you use the peels the apple butter will thicken more quickly. I did not use organic apples this year because they were pretty pricey so I opted for regular gala apples that were on sale at Sam’s Club. I washed them, peeled them, then cored them.
I used Gala apples, but feel free to use whatever apples you love. Gala apples are pretty sweet and aren’t tart at all, that’s why I used them. If you love tart apples, then use a mixture of sweet and tart apples to balance out the tartness in the final product.
Don’t feel like you can’t make this apple butter without having an Instant Pot or another brand of an electric pressure cooker. One of the traditional methods to make apple butter is to use a slow cooker. This is the way I made it last year and it is an exceedingly effective method to use. The only caveat is that it takes a long time to reach the butter consistency. The Instant Pot really cuts the time needed to reach the butter consistency by first pressure cooking the apples and then using the sauté function to evaporate the liquid and thicken the apple butter.
If you do not mind using a bit of sugar, then you can thicken this Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter even faster by adding 1/4 cup of organic brown sugar or sucanat; you want to use the least processed sugar. I did do this near the end of the cooking time because I wanted it to thicken more quickly, I was making this apple butter at 1:00 A.M. and didn’t want to be up much longer. If it wasn’t so late I would’ve continued sautéing the Apple Butter until it thickened to the right consistency. All in all it took me about 1.5 hours from start to finish to create this Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter.
Recipe Ideas Using Instant Pot Date-Sweetened Apple Butter
Now that we have all of this apple butter we have to use it in some recipes! I’m sure everyone knows that they can slather some apple butter on a thick slice of toasty sourdough or on a soft dinner roll. You can also use a spoonful in your oatmeal or you could use some in your coffee to make a latte. I made an Apple Butter Latte the other day and it was amazing! I might have to share a recipe for it.
Desserts that can benefit from some apple butter are bundt cakes, coffee cakes, cookies like snickerdoodle cookies, and cheesecake (I did this last year, it was 😍 ). I’m sure apple butter would be fantastic in an ice cream base. I made an incredible Apple Butter Pecan Pie with Puff Pastry Crust and will be sharing that recipe tomorrow!
For savory dishes, I have seen apple butter used on pork chops and on chicken. I plan to try the apple butter pork chops soon! You could use apple butter in some barbecue sauce or use it in a glaze.
Apple butter is also amazing in drinks of the alcoholic variety. I have an Apple Butter Margarita recipe coming in a few days. You guys are going to LOVE it! I also have another apple butter cocktail recipe that I’m working on.
Just get creative and see what you can come up with! Use apple butter to get you into the holiday spirit. All of the warming spices I used in this recipe should put you into a magical trance.
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Tools used in this recipe:
This fall-spiced Instant Po Date-Sweetened Apple Butter is so simple and quick to put together. The dates provide a caramel-like sweetness to the apples that will pair so well with desserts, cocktails, and even savory dishes.
- 5 pounds apples (used Gala apples)
- 1/2 cup Deglet Nour dates pitted
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom ground
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice ground
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
- Optional: 1/4 cup organic brown sugar
Wash, peel, and core all of your apples and place them in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.
Add water, pitted dates, spices, and vanilla extract to the Instant Pot. Mix everything together and then put the lid on the Instant Pot.
Set the Instant Pot to Manual or Pressure Cook and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes.
Allow the pressure cooker to naturally release pressure.
Remove the cinnamon sticks from the apple mixture and place to the side. Purée the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth.
Turn on the Sauté function, select “Less” and thicken the apple butter until your desired consistency while stirring occasionally. If you would like, you can return the cinnamon sticks to the pot to simmer with the apple butter to intensify the cinnamon flavor. It will take you about 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach the proper apple butter consistency. If you are short on time, add the optional brown sugar and the apple butter will thicken faster.
To store the apple butter you can place it in jars and place it in the refrigerator or you can freeze the apple butter in freezer bags. The apple butter will keep in the fridge for a few weeks and will stay fresh in the freezer for a few months.
If you need help thickening the apple butter more quickly then add the optional brown sugar.