Wednesday, November 18, 2009


That's how many days there are until I'm 30. It's kind of depressing, but kind of not . . .

So, what does a girl do the weekend before she turns 29??


My family has made applebutter consistently since I can remember. When we used our 35-gallon kettle, we would make it every year or every other year. Since we've started using my Uncle Steve's 50-gallon kettle, we've had to make it less often. The last time we made it was in 2003 and we had about 10 people helping. This year we had to postpone it a day because of the rain, so we were down to me and my parents with a few people stopping by for a couple hours at a time to help out. If you've never been around for applebutter making, let me give a run-down of the process.

First you have to get a LOT of apples (12 bushels this year). I don't have pictures of that because it's not that exciting and Dad and my brother, Kaleb, went to get them after dark.

Next, starts the peeling. I have a video, but I'm not sure it will work, so I have a picture of me at the peeler, too.

You end up with a bucket of peeled apples that looks likes this.

Next you cut the apples into quarters and cut out the seed pit or "cutthroat" as a lady in our church said she heard it called. We call this part "snitting" :) We then rinse, drain, and bag the apples and put them in the freezer, fridge, or outside on the deck in boxes if it's cold enough! This goes on for 3 or 4 days before the boiling day.

On the morning of applebutter making, my dad sets the kettle stand up on bricks in the driveway and starts a fire. After it's going pretty good, he'll set the 50-gallon kettle in the stand.

Here's the kettle we used.

(oh, dad cleans it the night before -- this picture is actually after the applebutter was done on Saturday night) Dad started the fire around 6:15 am.
After the kettle is on, we put about a gallon and a half of water in the kettle and wait a little bit until it has heated up. Once it was heated, we added apples. Here's the kettle after there were enough apples to have to start stirring. We started adding apples about 7:30 am.

Once you start stirring, you have to keep stirring until it's done or it will stick to the bottom and burn.

Some of the stirrers were:

My mom

My aunt:

My cousin:

and me!

My dad obviously stirred the most, but for some reason we don't have a picture of him stirring. Some friends from my church came out and were a BIG help for a couple of hours, but I didn't ask if I could post their pictures. You'll just have to use your imagination!!

We started adding new apples every 20-30 minutes until we used all our apples. (the entire 12 bushels plus the 36 bags we found in the freezer.) When it was half-full, we added pennies to add some friction to the bottom and keep it from sticking. We added the last apples at 1:30 pm.

After the apples were all in, we kept stirring until it had cooked down to a thick applesauce. (about 4:00 pm.) This was about the time my arms started to get REALLY sore. I don't think my arms have EVER been that sore. My dad usually has more help stirring than just me, so I wasn't used to helping him quite THIS much! (and we haven't made it since I was 23!)

After all the apples have cooked down, we added about 65 pounds of sugar and let it cook for another 2 hours. At about 6pm, we added the spices (oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves) until it was just right.

By this time, my arms were completely dead and I had already taken 3 ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer and neither had touched the pain. Mom finally had the GENIUS idea of using a mentholated muscle rub to help relax my arm muscles.

By this time, my aunt was here to help take it up (aka put it in jars). I would stir while dad dipped it into an enamel pan and take it inside. There, my mom and aunt were ladling it into jars and sealing them. We eventually got into a routine where I would stir, dad would dip it and take it inside, he would come take the stirrer from me, I would go inside to help fill jars, then I would take the pan back outside so he could fill it again. We got into a pretty good routine and had everything in jars by about 7:30 or 8:00 pm. Then all we had to do was clean up! Everything was cleaned up by about 9:30 when everyone was so tired, we ended up eating cereal for supper! When all was said and done, we had 126 quarts of applebutter!

(Sorry this picture is sideways -- I forgot to rotate it before I loaded it and don't want to have to re-load it!)

So that's a day in the life of applebutter making. If anyone wants some, just let us know -- we have plenty!! :)