This year I bought a bushel of apples from an awesome orchard in Wisconsin near Lake Superior. I had SO many apples! After sharing some with friends I decided to make applesauce and apple butter. It's so much easier than you'd think!
First, slice and core your apples. No need to peel! It goes a lot faster if you have an apple slicer.
Put them in a big pot with a small amount of water (1/4 cup or so)
I really could have used a bigger pot here.
Cover and cook on low/medium heat until the apples are soft. Stir occasionally so they don't burn on the bottom. Another option is to put them in a crock pot/slow cooker, although that will take longer.
Here you can add any sweetener or spices you like, or leave them plain. I like a small amount of honey and a little bit of fresh grated ginger, and a bit of cinnamon, but plain is yummy, too! The sweeter the apples, the less sweetener you will need. These are macintosh apples.
When the apples are soft you can smush them up with an immersion blender, or even smash and stir with a wooden spoon for really chunky sauce. I like to make some chunky and some I puree really, really smooth. The super-pureed batch is so good poured over pancakes instead of syrup!
Now you have applesauce! Put it in freezable containers or freezer ziploc bags and freeze, so you can eat it all winter long!
If you want apple butter, continue on.
Now put the applesauce you've made into a crock pot (you could probably do this on the stove but be very careful of burning!)
Add some cinnamon, allspice, and cloves (you could also use nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom if you like). Here you can also add sweetener (honey, sugar, agave, whatever you like) if you want to. I usually don't add any sweetener, or just a small bit of honey. I think if you want to use splenda or other artificial sweetener it should probably be added after it cools a bit, as some of them aren't stable at higher temperatures.
You will need to put a spatter guard over the crock pot (I use a steamer, but you could use anything that will let steam out and keep splatters in. You could also put a spoon handle under the crock pot lid to keep it slightly ajar.
Leave it in the crock pot overnight, up to 12-15 hours, until it reduces by about half and turns a rich brown.
When it's done cooking, use an immersion blender to make it really smooth. Be careful of hot splatters!! You can wait until it's cool. You could do this in a normal blender if you need to.
Now you have apple butter! Freeze it the same way, just defrost and stir for apple butter any time! Yum!
Apple butter is delicious served with a sliced baguette and cheese, on toast, even sandwiches!