Wash apples. Peel and core 1 apple; cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rings. If desired, place rings in ascorbic acid color-keeper solution to reduce discoloration; drain. Repeat with remaining apples.
For spice bag, tie cinnamon pieces, whole cloves, and, if desired, the gingerroot in a square of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth; set aside. In an 8-quart Dutch oven or kettle combine brown sugar, water, and vinegar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; add spice bag. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Drain apple slices and add to hot liquid; return to boiling. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove spice bag. With a slotted spoon, pack apple rings in hot, clean pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add hot liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims, and adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner; cool on racks.