Louisburg Cider Mill’s Tradition of Apple Butter (Plus Peach & Pumpkin Butters)
The whole process was a lot of work, beginning with collecting the precious, sweet apples. Apple trees were spread out, so the men folk got their wagons and drove all around the fields or even in the woods to gather them. You see, in the early days, they didn’t always plant apple trees near to each other like in the orchards of today. Another necessary chore was cleaning and scrubbing the big brass or copper kettles in order to be ready to cook apples! Piles and piles of wood had to be gathered and cut due to the fact that there had to be enough wood to burn many fires that would last from dawn to dark. There was also the huge chore of cutting and seeding the many apples that would be needed.
Apple butter didn’t have any sugar added to it back then. It was made from “boiled-down” cider. To boil it down to sugar took a lot of patience, hours of time, wood and many gallons of cider. Most recipes followed a method of three fires. One large kettle was filled with apple cider and was cooked down until it was at half the kettle and then quartered apples were continually added as it further cooked. Sometimes pennies were put in the kettles to keep the apple butter from sticking to the bottom! Another kettle was where apple pieces were being warmed because no cold apples were to be put into the main kettle. The remaining kettle was where the cider was being boiled to make sugar and where the fragrant spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves were added. When the apple butter was done, it was removed as it thickened and put into pails to be taken to the cellar to go into butter crocks to cool and be stored.
Not only do we, at Louisburg Cider Mill, continue the early American tradition of the open kettle method for making Apple Butter, we have found our customers love this same approach in our creation of Peach Butter and Pumpkin Butter. Remember, when you want to give a homemade style, warm and friendly gift, these fruit butters (apple, peach and pumpkin) are perfect! For a housewarming or welcome to the neighborhood gift, our fruit butter samplers are much appreciated. And we have been told that military personnel really love this all-American treat, too. Bet you wish you had one of our fruit butters right now!
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