• 61°

Time for makin’ apple butter

By Katie Scarvey
kscarvey@salisburypost.com
Madeline and Charles Sheppard have made gallons and gallons of apple butter over the years.
Both remember helping their mothers make apple butter when they were kids growing up in the mountains of North Carolina.
Charles, 77, remembers working in a sawmill as a teenager and having apple butter biscuits in his dinner box.
He also recalls that they had to keep a sharp eye on the large apple butter kettles, lest they be taken by moonshiners.
“There were liquor stills all over that place,” said Charles, describing the area where he grew up. Two apple butter kettles, soldered together, worked well to cook up moonshine, he says.
Charles, who has been a preacher for 46 years, didn’t appreciate that kind of behavior.
“My momma always raised us to read the Bible every night,” he says.
When he and Madeline got married, they continued the apple butter tradition.
And after 55 years of marriage, they’re still making apple butter with their 10 children and their more than 100 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“We always have all the young ‘uns down here,” Charles says.
Last Thursday, they were making what they refer to as “a run” of apple butter at their home outside of Cleveland. Three of their daughters were on hand to help: Rita Boger of Salisbury, Brenda Rupard of Woodleaf and Barbara Shook, who lives next door to her parents.
“It’s something we’ve always done and enjoy doing,” Rita said.
Typically, the whole family, or as many as can make it, gather at the Sheppard’s home in Cleveland to make apple butter in October. This year, their children who live near Banner Elk were having a hard time arranging a visit, so Charles and Madeline went to them and made a run of apple butter in the mountains, where they also live part of the year. (Their children bought them a mobile home in Newland, near Banner Elk.)
Most years, apple butter day is same day as Charles and Madeline’s wedding anniversary, Oct. 2, but they were a little late this year, Charles says.
The ingredients of apple butter are pretty simple. All it requires is apples, apple juice or water, sugar and some spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Of course, if you’re making a dozen gallons of it, the way the Sheppards do, you’ve got to peel a lot of apples ó about five bushels.
They used Stayman Winesap this time, but Madeline prefers the Wolf River variety.
The apples, juice and sugar are cooked outdoors in a large kettle over a small fire for five or six hours. As the mixture cooks down, more apples are added. By the end of the process, the concoction has taken on a rich, dark brown color.
For this particular run of apple butter, the Sheppards borrowed a 15-gallon brass kettle. They own a nice copper one that cost $800, Charles says, but it only holds 10 gallons, and they wanted to make a big batch.
The really challenging part is the stirring.
As it cooks, the apple butter mixture must be stirred constantly with a long-handled wooden paddle or it will burn.
Madeline says she’s only burned a batch once, about 15 or 20 years ago.
She puts a silver dollar in the bottom of the pot, which helps keep the apples from sticking. It’s a 1922 Liberty dollar ó the same one her mother used when she made apple butter, Madeline says.
Around 2 p.m., Charles was perched in a dining room chair outside, not far from the pot. “I’m about stirred out,” he said.
The apple butter was done, ready to be ladled through a metal funnel into pint-sized Mason jars. As the jars were being filled, bees ó or were they wasps? ó gathered expectantly, drawn to the sweet substance on the sides of the kettle. A few fell in and had to be skimmed out ó but at least they died happy.
Charles and Madeline got about 80 pints from this batch, which will be shared with family and friends.
Madeline cans a lot of other things besides apple butter, including beans, corn, peas, tomatoes and jelly.
She entered her apple butter, squash pickles and pickled corn in the Avery County fair this year ó for the first time ó and won blue ribbons for all three, plus a red ribbon for dill pickles.
Madeline laughs as she remembers that her daughter Loretta’s comment: “Well, that’s four jars we won’t get to eat.”
The apple butter? There should be enough of that to go around.
If you’d like to make some apple butter in the comfort of your own kitchen, without all the stirring, here’s a crock pot recipe.
Crock Pot Apple Butter
3 quarts apples, peeled and sliced thin
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cloves
Put apples in crock pot and cook overnight on high. The next morning, add cinnamon sugar and cloves. Cook all day on low. You can use applesauce if you do not have time to prepare the apples. ó Recipe courtesy of www.cooks.com
 
 
 

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Lane, ramp closures scheduled for I-85 in Salisbury

Crime

Blotter: March 8

Ask Us

Ask Us: How can homebound seniors be vaccinated?

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury high, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash