Homemade gifts for Christmas can be easy, inexpensive, delicious, and still come from the heart. Each year, it seems the list of people I want to acknowledge at the holidays grows. That doesn’t mean I want to spend more money. So, coming up with creative money-saving solutions is one of my strategies. It takes some planning ahead. And it takes valuable time. But, in the end, handmade gifts give that something extra that store-bought gifts just can’t.
I always look forward to the special homemade gifts I know I’m getting from friends each year. And, I cherish them always.
I got my love of handmade gifts from my Dad. One of his hobbies was wood crafting. He could build anything. And he loved to make gifts for people. Every year at Christmas he made something for his mother. And, he would enlist me and my sisters to help. He taught me how to use my hands to create.
I got my love of cooking from my My Grandma Ruth. She was the world’s best home cook. And she made a mean jar of apple butter. I hesitantly sent her a few jars of my version for Christmas a few years ago, a little fearful that it might not measure up. She was thrilled with the flavor and couldn’t believe I didn’t use white sugar. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud.
If you’ve never canned anything before, this is a simple place to start. You don’t need to use a pressure cooker canner. Instead, use a water bath canner. I use half-pint or quarter-pint jars and process filled jars for 10 minutes.
Tie a pretty ribbon around the jars and you’ve got the perfect gift. And, it comes right from the heart.
Are you working on any handmade gifts this year? What about ones you’ve received and treasure?
A simple & delicious homemade apple butter recipe you can cook up in your favorite slow cooker.
- 4 to 5 pounds apples, cored and sliced
- 1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened frozen apple juice concentrate, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- pinch of salt
- Place the apples in a large (5- or 6-quart) slow cooker. Melt 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate in the microwave or on the stovetop and pour over the apples. Sprinkle the apples with the allspice, cloves, nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and the salt. Gently stir with a large wooden spoon. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or overnight.
- Check the apples after 8 hours. If they need to be cooked longer, leave the slow cooker on. If the apples are soft, puree with an immersion blender while the apples are still in the slow cooker. Or you can transfer them to a food processor or blender and puree in small batches. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the remaining 1/2 cup apple juice concentrate and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for sweetness, if desired. Continue to cook on low with the lid off until the apple butter is thick.
- Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for two months, or freeze. To can, process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Quick Tip: Don’t bother peeling the apples. The skin helps create a thicker apple butter and, once the apples are pureed, you won’t even know it’s there.