I still haven’t gotten my act together enough with preserves to do jellies or jams, or even to stand over the stove monitoring a pot of apple butter. (Although I did do the latter a few years ago. Once.) My current thinking is that this kind of persnickety work isn’t for those on the tenure-track. But! I can totally put a bunch of fruit and spices in a crockpot, set the lid ajar, and walk off. The results are better than my standing-over-the-pot butters anyway, since Kristas are not exactly known for their patience and I never cooked any of my previous batches all the way down to that very-final thick stage.
I discovered this technique (if it qualifies as a technique) via Food in Jars, which has taught me so much this year. This summer and fall, I made blueberry butter, peach apricot butter, and a Cortland apple butter that I freehanded one night when mom and dad were visiting. We had picked up a sack of apples at Beak and Skiff that afternoon, and I wanted to be able to send a couple of jars of butter home with them. So I peeled and chopped enough apples to fill my big crock pot, threw in a handful of cinnamon sticks, and set it for 10 hours. And then I went to bed. When I woke up it was butter, and I filled and canned the jars before anyone came in for breakfast. Total active time investment: somewhere around a half-hour.