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Core and quarter unpeeled apples. In an 8- to 10-quart heavy pot, combine apples and cider. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are very tender, stirring often.
Press apple mixture through a food mill or sieve. Return 9 1/2 cups of the pulp to the pot. (If you have leftover apple mixture, simply chill it and serve it as applesauce.)
Stir in the sugar, lemon juice (if using), cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over very low heat for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or until mixture is very thick and mounds on a spoon, stirring often.
Ladle hot apple butter into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.