Monday, October 14, 2013

One Sweet Day

What do you get when you combine apples, sugar, spices, friends, fire, and a whole lot of stirring? Apple butter, of course! All those things came together at our house on Saturday, and we ended up with a whole lot more than apple butter.

The fun began Friday afternoon, when friends showed up to begin peeling six bushels of apples.

Two mechanical apple peelers helped out considerably, but it was still a lot of work.

When all the apples were done, there was a huge pile of cores and peelings, which made quite a feast for our chickens.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Robin and his cousin, Bruce, started cooking in the sugar house. If the photo looks a bit blurry, it is. That's because I was still blurry that early in the morning!

Well before daylight, the apples were simmering in a one-hundred-year-old 30-gallon copper kettle over a wood fire, and the stirring had begun!

By the time all the apples were in the kettle, it was almost full to the rim!

Thus began a day filled with fellowship

and stirring

and food (keep reading, I'll explain)

and stirring

and stirring

and conversation

and stirring...get the picture?

By early afternoon, the apples had cooked down enough to add the sugar and spices. The aroma was delicious and the apple butter was almost done, but still there was stirring.

After another half hour or so, the time finally came to can the apple butter. It was easy to see where the saying, "Many hands make light work," came from. It took quite a team to get the 23 gallons of sweet apple goodness ladled into quart, pint, and half-pint jars while it was still hot.

And in the bottom of the kettle, two silver dollars, put there for good luck and maybe to help prevent the apple butter from sticking.

When the kettle was empty and the last jar filled, the popping of the jar flats as they sealed was music to our ears.

Making apple butter is a tradition all across this great country of ours, be it a family affair, a church fundraiser or a festival event. I can barely remember when my family made apple butter in our backyard in 1964. This photo of the women peeling apples is the only one I could find. That's my grandmother on the left, and next to her is my mother. The other ladies were neighbors, I think.

For our apple butter making, we incorporated some tradition by using Robin's grandmother's copper kettle and putting the silver dollars in the bottom. We might have even started a new tradition: curly fries for lunch! Someone had the good idea to put some potatoes on the apple peelers and fry them in hot oil. Boy, were they good!

All in all, it was a wonderful day, filled with some of the most important things in life: family, friends, and little hands helping big hands.

At our house last Saturday, we made more than just apple butter. Everyone, young and old, went home with a host of good memories. In more ways than one, it was a mighty sweet day indeed.


  1. The littlest stirrer is going to be delighted to see this tomorrow! What a lovely 'picture diary' of a stand-out fun day with wonderful people. Thank you for sharing it all.
    ~Laura G.

    1. So glad he could be a part of it. He definitely was a trooper and stayed with the stirring for hours!

  2. Man, Nancy! What a great story and photos to go along with it. There's not a whole lot of things better than good homemade apple butter!

    1. Thanks, Eric! I'm looking forward to slathering some on a hot biscuit!

  3. Oh my gosh, this is such a wonderful picture story! I loved it! How wonderful to keep alive the old traditions!

    1. Thanks for stopping by to read about our big day! It was fun, and hopefully we made some life-long memories for our two youngest helpers.


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