The slow cooker can do many surprising things. It can caramelize onions and cook other surprising dishes like mushrooms. It can also make delicious jams and butter without all the standing over the stove, stirring and making sure nothing gets scorched.

Jams and butters are a delicious way to use up large amounts of fruits and vegetables that you can get for a great deal when they're in season, or small amounts of produce that are beyond their prime, particularly fruits that aren't so palatable to bite into but will shine by the spoonful in a jam or butter.

All of these recipes are made in the slow cooker. Once jarred, they need to be refrigerated unless you choose to preserve them by canning them in a hot water bath.

cherry jam, pancakes You can skip the maple syrup when you have homemade jam to spread on pancakes. (Photo: barmalini/Shutterstock)

Slow Cooker Cherry Jam: To get a thicker consistency, the directions for this jam says to remove the lid during the second half of cooking, which makes some sense. This is a small batch recipe, making three half-pints of sweet, cherry jam.

All-Day Apple Butter: Throw the ingredients for this apple butter into your slow cooker before you go to work and come home to delicious, thick apple butter. Or, cook overnight and wake up to fresh apple butter for breakfast. Either way, think of how amazing your home will smell when you walk into the kitchen.

pumpkin butter Pumpkin butter is easy to make in the slow cooker and has so many uses. (Photo: MS Photographic/Shutterstock)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter: You can use canned pumpkin in this, or you could make your own pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins. The result will be the same: a delicious, creamy butter to spread on toast or crepes or to swirl into your oatmeal. One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin butter is to mix it with cream cheese for bagels or as a dip for gingersnap cookies. I somehow managed to get away with pumpkin butter cream cheese and gingersnaps as a Thanksgiving appetizer for many years.

Slow Cooker Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: The perfect pairing of strawberries and rhubarb doesn't need much help, just a little sugar and cinnamon, plus six or seven hours in the slow cooker to make a wonderful jam that's like spring in a jar. For a clever way to use this jam, throw it in a shaker with some vodka to make a Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Vodka Tonic.

ripe bananas on counter Yes, these are perfect for banana bread, but you can also use them to make banana butter. (Photo: c12/Shutterstock)

Slow Cooker Banana Butter: If your go-to solution for overripe bananas is to make banana bread, you might want to try something new. Banana butter, made with brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla takes your brown bananas in a new direction: as a topping for sweet potato toast, oatmeal, and more.

Slow Cooker Bacon Jam: You don't need any fresh fruit or vegetables (except onions) to be in season for this sweet and savory jam that has the unexpected ingredient of coffee in it. One person in the comments said it's great on homemade pizza with blue and cheddar cheeses, and that sounds amazing.

Crock Pot Peach Mango Butter: Peach and mango have such sunny flavors, and this recipe has a double dose of both. It uses both fresh fruits plus some peach mango juice to give it more depth of flavor. The use of an immersion blender helps to make this butter super smooth.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

7 slow cooker jams and butters
Your slow cooker can create delicious jams and butters while you're doing something else.