Making Apple Butter

The sun is shining and the temperature is warm, but the evenings cool and it is evident that Autumn is officially here.  What that means is  different things for different people and they certainly change over the years.  Some describe Fall with colorful leaves, football season, & bonfires.  Others love to don cuddly sweatshirts and return to school.  To some, Harvest truly means harvest. Farmers still gather crops. Many others purchase those crops and can or freeze them for use throughout the winter.  However, some even take the time to make a harvest of apples and turn them into apple butter.

I remember as a kid being present for “Apple Butter Day.”  A day where friends and family gathered around a fire that had a copper kettle on it and it was filled with sloshy apple bits and spices.  The smoke would flavor the apple sauce a bit and would occasionally burn my eyes.  The adults would use a giant paddle to stir and they would stir it…all…day…long.  Long after the novelty of stirring apple butter wore off, we were still stirring.  Small children were allowed to hold the handle of the paddle to assist an adult, but the tedious chore was passed from adult to adult all day long.  The entire time stories of other batches of apple butter were shared.

In this day and age, rarely do you hear of a gathering where busy people want to take 10-12 hours out of their day to stand around a fire to stir apple sauce and spices until it becomes apple butter.  Wouldn’t it be easier to buy jelly for your toast instead of opening a mason jar of the home made apple butter?  Oh yes, it would be easier, but what memory would that evoke?  Probably none and certainly not anything special.

Today after paring apples to take to Chicora United Methodists Apple Butter Day on Saturday, I signed on to be greeted by a friend’s post.  It was a photo of an old newspaper clipping of a woman churning apple butter.  The caption read, “It takes a hot fire, strong arms and plenty of patience to make apple butter.”  It also stated, ” The tedious process which involved boiling water from crushed apples took nearly 10 hours.”  I was so excited to put a picture to a memory. A different copper kettle, a different place, & a different group of people but the same experience.

I shared that picture on my Facebook wall and a cousin that I don’t see very often anymore responded quickly with a comment. “Do you remember when they set up the big kettle in g-ma and g-pa’s driveway to make apple butter? I have a faint, dusty memory of it…”

I feel blessed to have these memories of simpler times and days that weren’t quite as full of activities.  I also feel blessed to have a church that is willing to remind us of those times.  I look forward to taking my turn with the paddle, hearing the stories and of course, buttering my toast on Sunday morning with fresh made apple butter. If you are local, please stop by!

Note: Stay tuned for my next post where I will share how you can make Crock Pot apple butter!


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