I grew up in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York, where apples abounded. In the autumn, we'd go to one of the local orchards to pick our own. The one surefire way to conjure up the flavor of the apples of my youth is by cooking them down into a rich, smooth apple butter. Slathered on an English muffin or swirled into a warming bowl of morning oatmeal, it transports me back in a single bite. Best of all, apple butter is possibly the easiest preserves to make. You don't even have to peel or core the apples, and you can do the entire thing in your slow cooker. Sealed up in half-pint jars, I can always have some on hand when I want to relive those chilly mornings among the apple orchards.
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