First thing's first: if you're using a brand new slow cooker straight out of the box, remember to remove the cardboard around the base of the pot. If you don't, you might smell burning. I gotta learn things the hard way, I guess!
Second: Whenever you're dealing with apples, either for cakes, pies, or apple butter, always use an apple peeler (I bought this one for $13.29 but it looks like Amazon has raised the price since then). It. Works. Wonders. You'll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and maybe a finger or two since it peels, cores, and slices at the same time. My husband didn't believe me until I showed him and he was astonished by the engineering of the little machine. If you don't believe me, here's a little video showing how it works (and you don't have to hold it down, there's a suction cup on the bottom, I just wanted to be extra careful):
I followed this recipe by Jamie at My Baking Addiction but since I only had half the amount of apples the recipe called for, I cut the recipe in half (1/2C of sugar instead of 1C, 1/8t ground cloves, etc.).
Here's what it looked like when I first turned on the slow cooker (the 0 hour mark):
Here's what it looked like after 6 hours in the slow cooker:
Here's what it looked like after 10 hours, after I added the vanilla (note: at this point, your house will smell ah-may-zing!)
So after 12 hours, the instructions call for using an immersion blender, but I don't have one of those, so I improvised by pouring the apple mixture into a bowl and used my hand mixer (thought using it in the slow cooker might be a bad idea). Once pureed, into the mason jars they went! I guess 3lbs. of apples equals 8 4oz mason jars -
TOTAL COSTS: $25
Apples = $15 for 3lbs. at Riley's Apple Farm
Mason Jars = $10 for 12 4 oz. Ball mason jars
TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: 12 hours, 50 minutes
25 minutes to peel, core, and slice 3 lbs. of apples
10 minutes to add ingredients
12 hours to cook
15 minutes to puree, pour mixture into jars, and write labels
EASY-PEASY SCALE: 2 out of 5
Another easy recipe - the only hard-ish part is preparing the apples and having the patience to wait 12 hours!