We have this very nasty crab apple tree in our backyard. And by nasty, I mean the apples are inedible. We attempted to make apple jelly with them a couple of years ago, but they apparently lacked pectin, so we ended up with some tasty apple syrup.
After some research online, I decided to try again and make apple butter. This experiment made something that is quite nice ! I loaded a small crockpot with apples that had been quartered and cores removed. I didn't want to peel them at this stage, because they are so small, I was sure I could deal with it after they were cooked. I layered them with brown sugar, cinnamon and thinly sliced ginger root. I was very careful not to add too much sugar, because I don't care for jams and jellies that are too sweet.
I added just a sprinkle of nutmeg and cloves, and about 2 tablespoons of vanilla. I apologize for the lack of measurements, but it will depend on the volume of apples you have, the amount of sugar in the apples, and your personal preference.
I left the mixture in overnight in the crockpot, and the smell was WONDERFUL in the morning. I turned off the heat, and let them cool enough to put through the food mill, so we could get the peels out of the mixture.
Ray was the master of the mill! I put the mixture in a saucepan, adjusted the seasoning (which was just a little extra cinnamon and sugar), and cooked it down some more. You could put it back in the crock pot at this point and let it go as well.
I canned these, so we could share our wonderful discovery. We ended up with four half-pint jars. The taste reminded me a bit of Thanksgiving !