The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Applebutter - Farm Family Tradition

By Beulah S. Fox © 1987

Issue: August, 1987

Apple butter is a spread for bread made by cooking apples to a thick consistency and seasoning with spices, usually oil of cinnamon. When I was growing up, making apple butter was a fall rite and actually a two day affair. There are eight gallons of apples to every bushel. We used two bushels of Ben Davis apples. Any cooking apple will do. The first day we peeled, cored, and sliced one bushel of apples and made apple sauce. This gave us a head start.

After building fire to a medium heat beneath the kettle we put the precooked apples in with enough water to cover the bottom of the kettle.

In the meantime we precooked the second bushel the same as the first to apple sauce consistency and continued to add the apple sauce until the two bushels were in the kettle cooking, stirring constantly to ensure even cooking and no burned spots, resulting in sore muscles the next day. Half way through cooking we added two pounds sugar to every gallon of apples constantly stirring apple butter for about seven hours, depending upon desired thickness. The longer we cooked the redder and better it got. One hour before cooking was completed we added cinnamon to taste and canned in quart cans to preserve. We spread it freshly on a butter biscuit or an old–time fruitcake, spreading apple butter between the layers. My Grandmother Walters used to make these fruitcakes at Christmas. How we grandchildren liked them! She used a recipe similar to this one sometimes called:

Snack Cake

1 1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. molasses
4 c. flour
2 t. soda
2 t. cloves
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. ginger

Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add molasses and sifted dry ingredients. Pat dough out in shallow pans and bake in moderate oven until done. When layers are cooled, spread with apple butter and stack. Makes six thin layers. Yum, Yum!