A Taste of Autumn - Home Made Apple Butter
Smearing apple butter on a hot buttered biscuit will never be the same for me again.
I always thought that apple butter was just apple sauce with a dash more cinnamon and a little more time on the stove. I had no idea that "a little more time" meant 10 hours of brewing in a 150-year-old copper cauldron.
At least that's how the Allen clan of Sardis, West Virginia, do it. They whip up 150 pints of apple butter every year as a fund raiser for a local church youth group. Three days and dozens of hands go into making a jar of the bread spread. Start with a day of picking local wild apples. Spend another day, slicing, chopping and cooking down the apples. Finish off in the cauldron, where the apples are mixed with sugar and cinnamon oil. That final day stretches from 6 am to 6 pm.
Double, double, toil but no trouble: the 150-year-old copper cauldron was first used by cousin Nathan's great-great grandfather. Now seven generations have stirred the pot.
The key to good apple butter is constant stirring so that the bottom doesn't stick. This year, the Allens retired the original 150-year-old paddle and replaced it with this one, hand crafted by a sixth generationer.
The finished product is scooped into sterilized jars.
Nathan's son Travis (on the right)is the great-great-great grandson of the copper pot's original owner. He and a friend retire the pot until its next 10-hour workout.
Now when I spread some apple butter on my biscuit or toast, I'll think of crisp air, fallen leaves, copper cauldrons, a labor of love and a 150-year tradition.
Leave a comment if you think you deserve to win a pint of home-made apple butter. The winner will be randomly selected.
My brother and I did a taste comparison of the 2007 and 2008 batches. This year's is as complex as a fine wine and a definite winner. You can taste the sweet, tangy and cinnamony hot components in each luscious bite. Now could someone bake me up a batch of biscuits?