After trying a few different recipes and methods for gifts this year, I finally found one that worked well in the kitchen and in the jar! Everyone thought this one was perfect - not too sweet, but just right! Serve immediately, can into sterilized jars and process, or cool and freeze.
Cook apples in slow cooker on Low until apples are very soft, about 18 hours.
Puree apples in a blender or food processor; return pureed apples to the slow cooker. Stir sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg through the pureed apples.
Continue cooking on Low until thick, about 4 hours.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the apple butter into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil and lower jars into the boiling water using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary to bring the water level to at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a rolling boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Store in a cool, dark area.
Adjust the sugar for the apple type. Tart varieties like Granny Smith could use another 1/2 cup.
The best varieties for these are Jonagold and Jonathan. Any single variety you would use for applesauce.
I canned this in 1-pint jars for 12 minutes.
If you don't have a slow cooker, a 6-quart Dutch oven in your oven at 250 degrees F (121 degrees C) will do. Cut the cooking time at least in half. The texture will not be quite as smooth and you will need to stir it every couple hours.