Making apple butter the old fashion’ way
TIVOLI – It has been a tradition for many years now at the Mapleton Community Center in Shrewsbury Township. Members think it has been almost 50 years that the Mapleton Church and center have been making apple butter there.
Starting in the afternoon on Friday, apples were hand peeled and cored, than cooked down to look like applesauce.
Mary Gray, one of the main organizers for this community fundraiser said that it takes time to boil down the apples to the point where it turns into apple butter. “We stay here all night and stir,” said Butch Rast. “It could take over ten hours, but this is a rough estimate,” he added.
Apple butter is a very highly concentrated from of apple sauce and needs to be continuously turned so the natural sugar can caramelize to a deep color.
The apples are Cortland and came from Millville according to the volunteer cooking team. Liquid cider is poured into four large copper kettles and boiled over an open fire throughout the night. The applesauce mixture is combined with a cider liquid mixture from large vats and then the mixture continues to boil down until thickened.
Rast also said that the copper kettles are costly to replace and run about 2 thousand dollars a piece. “We had to replace two of them,” he said while the other two were part of the original endeavor.
Gray said she has been working on this annual project since 2001 and its laborious process has proven to be worthwhile.
160 gallons of cider came from 30 bushels of apples and Saturday afternoon they packed almost 500 jar pints of apple butter. “We get a nice assembly line organized,” said Gray with the apples, the cider and the sugar. Finally the spices are added, “and that is our secret,” Gray said. Although the product does not actually use butter, it does have the consistency of thick soft butter, and its interesting flavor is popular as a spread for breads and sandwiches.
Its history goes back to the roots of the Netherlands and the Rhineland of Germany when its use became essential to preserve the fruits of the apples. It often tastes sweet and is a traditional condiment often used by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Orders for the apple butter can be made by calling 570-584-3809.
Other volunteers working on the project are Gary Ryder, Rosa and Dale Hessler, and Bob Taylor.