Apple Butter

Apple Butter at its Most Basic

Apple butter "frolics" were major social events. Despite the chores involved, the assemblage had relatively little to do so they told stories, gossiped, sang, and otherwise enjoyed fellowship. Courting couples were often given special duties, such as stirring the pot of apple butter. At some frolics, if the couple stirring bumped the kettle and splashed the butter, they had to kiss each other.

  • 1 1/2 - 2 gallons apple cider
  • 3 bushels apples
  • 5-9 pennies
  • Pare, core, and slice apples (Since Horne Creek Farm slices its apples the night before the cornshucking frolic, they put the sliced apples in water with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown).
  • When you are ready to begin, drain the water and lemon juice from the sliced apples. Set aside.
  • Bring 1 1/2-2 gallons of cider to a boil in a copper kettle over an open fire. Determine how much cider to put in by looking at the apples -- if they are very juicy to start with, add in less cider. If they seem less juicy, start with 2 gallons of cider.
  • Add apples and pennies to the pot. Continue boiling. Stir constantly with a wooden apple butter paddle for 5-7 hours until thick. Sugar, cinnamon, and other spices (nutmeg, cloves, allspice) may be added to taste. 
  • Remember to remove the pennies before serving!
  • Copper pennies are added to scrape the bottom of the kettle and to prevent the apple butter from burning.
  • If the firewood touches the kettle, the butter will burn.
  • Oak makes the best firewood for butter boiling because it gives steady heat without throwing much flame.
  • If, when you turn the crock upside down, the mixture stays in the container without running or dripping it is considered "real" apple butter. If it pours out, it is "jelly" butter.
  • Keep a penny from the kettle as a good luck token.