It takes about 20 to 25 pounds of apples to make 9 quarts of applesauce.
Fresh homemade applesauce is always better than the store bought stuff.
I get my apples from a local orchard, “seconds” and “culls” for $7/bushel, which is about 40 lbs.
Put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a large stock pot and fill with washed and quartered apples, stems, skin, seeds and all, removing any bruised spots.
Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-high, cover, and process until apples are very soft.
Process apples through a food mill to remove the stems, skin and seeds.
There are two ways to make applebutter: in a crock pot (if you have a 6 qt pot or larger) or in a large stock pot.
Put 5 ½ qt applesauce in the pot of your choosing mixing in 2 cups of sugar and the spices.
To get from that grainy look of applesauce to that clean smooth look of applebutter, use an immersion blender on the applesauce now. Later it will be too thick.
If crock pot:
Turn it on HI for an hour then to LO for 6 to 18 hours depending on your individual crock pot characteristics. The lid should be elevated by a couple of kabob skewers or butter knives or just canted. Lid needs to be elevated to let steam escape and the applebutter to cook down to about half. The lid also keeps your counter space and surrounding area clean because the applebutter will glop glop plop plop like molten lava when almost finished reducing. You might even want to use a drop cloth for extra protection. This recipe has the potential to be messy.
This process lets the sugar caramelize with the applebutter. You might want to stir the pot a couple three times to keep the applebutter from scorching on the sidewall and bottom of your stoneware.
When reduced by half, add the remaining applesauce and sugar; mix well.
Continue to simmer for another couple of hours to let the flavors meld.
If stock pot:
Bring applesauce and other ingredients, as in the crock pot instructions, to a boil then reduce to a very low simmer. Elevate the lid as in the crock pot instructions.
Pay close attention to the stock pot simmer to prevent scorching. Stir down side and bottom of pot at no longer than half hour intervals.
When reduced by half add the remaining sugar and applesauce. Continue to simmer for another couple of hours to let the flavors meld.
Cook the applebutter down to a spreadable thickness.
Prepare water-bath canner. Boil jars for 10 minutes and hold them in hot water until ready to use.
Bring two piece lids almost to a boil and hold in hot water until ready to use.
Ladle hot applebutter into jars leaving ¼” head space. Wipe jar rims clean. Adjust two piece lids finger tight on jars.
Process jars for 15 minutes minutes in the water-bath adjusting for altitude.
Remove jars to cool and rest overnight then check for seal.