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Apple Butter - A Gift and a Great Example of Community Involvement
I found out about a neat thing today through an apple butter gift!
Yesterday I received a fairly good sized mason jar of apple butter as a late Christmas gift. I currently am working in a doctors office and this sweet elderly woman, having a hard time walking even, had a big brown bag with her. She had brought a jar for the doctor and myself as a gift. I was so touched. She got the biggest smile, and it reminded me of days gone by, and I thought of my grandmother and family when I was a child.
After a bit of talking about the apple butter, I realized she was part of a really neat community experience. It turns out, she lives somewhat in the country, and her church was built in 1835! It is an old, beautiful church. They have 2 days every year dedicated to the hard work of making apple butter outdoors.
They typically choose two days in September when it turns out that most of the people can make the event. On day one, they ask people to bring a paring knife and a bowl. They are told to arrive early if they can, and then proceed to core and peel and section the apples that day. After this, they make the sauce, to be cooked the next day. They need a lot of people because there is just so much work to do. The community time together, and the working together makes it a joy however. This is my experience also, and if you have ever done anything like this, you will know what I mean.
On day two they are asked to bring a lawn chair. This is where it gets really interesting,as they get out 6 or so very large copper lined kettles. If I am not mistaken, I thought she told me they were approximately 30 gallons each! They need to have big paddle stirrers, because the pots are just so big. At this point I just got a big smile on my face, trying to picture this event outdoors with people milling about. I am sure the aroma of the apples and spices were in the air!
This sweet old woman told me that the recipe is trusted and very old, just like the tradition. She is very old herself, and said many of the old timers that came faithfully every year have since passed away. Nonetheless they are trying to keep this amazing tradition alive out in the beautiful country.
What touched me most I think besides the gift itself, is the community involvement in what seems to be a pretty big job! A fun job, producing apple butter for people, to buy or give away. Its that hard, grunt labor that gets a neat job done. One can imagine that there isn't anything quite like the tired smiles at the end of a long day like this.
So, you can imagine that this humble, and literally sweet gift meant all the more to me! It was so sweet to see how she talked about the event with a humble pride. There is a sticker on the front saying what it is, and the name of the church. I wanted to write about it, to never forget about this neat community that cares about each other and gets a big job done. It seems like one would be transported back in time, to be outdoors cooking apple butter for hours on end.
The result, was a lot of apple butter! She said that she believed it to be 638 quarts total this last time. I was so impressed. She told me of their other big events in the year, like a sausage and potato pancake dinner. They also have a beef and chicken dinner another time. They are all community events. It was just very heartwarming to hear of it all.
This morning, I sampled the apple butter on toast. It was amazingly delicious! Smelled like apple pie, and was just so good.