Every year, it’s hard not to get a little stressed out by the delicious fresh fruit that’s suddenly everywhere: You’re bound to go a little overboard at the farmers market or a pick-your-own place and bring home way more fruit than is possible for human consumption. The next time you find yourself in this situation, think about the brilliant idea of using your slow cooker to make jams and fruit butters. It does all the work for you, without heating up the house.
If you’re going to use the jar of jam up in the next three or four weeks, you can even toss it in the fridge without going through the whole preserving process. But if you want to keep it shelf-stable, just to be sure to follow step-by-step canning instructions, such as these from the USDA.
1. Strawberry Basil: Motivating yourself to make plain-old strawberry jam might take some work. But Strawberry-Basil jam? Now that’s something you can’t find anywhere. This recipe for Slow-Cooker Strawberry Jam comes from Jessie Johnson of the appropriately named blog, Life as a Strawberry. It takes all of two minutes to prep, she says.
2. Blueberry Plum: Not only do slow cookers take the work out of making jam, they also free you from watching over boiling pots on a sweltering August afternoon, points out Lindsay Strannigan, developer of this Blueberry-Plum butter from her the blog, Rosemarried.
3. Blackberry: As healthy as we like to think jams are, they are usually loaded with sugar. Kelly McNelis is the brain behind this Slow Cooker Blackberry Jam, which she created as a guest blogger over at The Humbled Homemaker. She uses a “no sugar needed fruit pectin” as a thickener, so she’s able to use about half as much sugar as a traditional homemade jam recipe.
4. Peach: When peach prices drop down to about 99 cents a pound, McNelis says she jumps on the chance to make this four-ingredient Slow Cooker Peach Jam from her own blog, New Leaf Wellness. After the peaches go for an 8-hour spin in the slow cooker, she mashes them with a simple hand potato masher.
5. Apricot: We’d make any recipe from professional canning teacher and cookbook author Marisa McClellan, founder of the blog Food in Jars. But this Slow Cooker Apricot Peach Butter caught our eyes in particular. You can easily customize it by adding a little cinnamon, lemon zest or a vanilla bean, she says. She recommends eating the final product with yogurt, pairing it with cheese, spreading it on toast, or stirring it into oatmeal.