For a 5-6 quart slow cooker (halve recipe for smaller cookers):
8poundsapplespeeled, cored and quartered
1 ¼cupspure maple syrup
1teaspooncinnamonor to taste
1/4 teaspoonallspiceoptional, but my favorite*
1/4teaspoonground cloves and/or nutmegoptional*
Prepare the apples, placing them right in the bowl of a 5-6 quart slow cooker as you peel, core, and quarter them.
Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Cook on HIGH, covered, 1 hour.
Reduce to LOW, stir again, and cook, covered, for 8-10 hours (overnight works great).
Uncover, stir, and cook on HIGH for 1 hour to reduce a bit, leaving the lid off or halfway on cooker.
Use an immersion blender right in cooker, blending until smooth. Continue cooking uncovered on HIGH until desired thickness (about 30m-1hr longer).**
If canning, prepare canning jars, lids and canner while reducing. If freezing, let apple butter cool before adding to freezer-safe small jars.
To can: ladle into warm 1/2-pint jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace, wiping rims & attaching lids. Place in water bath canner, bring back to a boil, lower heat to maintain a low boil and process for 10 minutes.
Turn off burner, remove lid and jars let sit in canner for 5 minutes. Transfer to a towel-lined surface and let cool at least 12 hours without touching them. Check seals, label and store in a cool place.
*I don't like too many spices in our apple butter, preferring the flavor of the apples with cinnamon and sometimes allspice (it adds a great flavor). You can experiment and use none or all if you want - but the cinnamon is a must!**You want a jam-like consistency. Check by letting fall from a spoon - slowly is the goal - or placing a spoonful in a small container to see if it keeps it shape a bit.