Produced in the fall as a way to preserve part of the apple crop, apple butter was historically a community project – bringing families and neighbors together each fall. Again this year, guests of all ages will gather to celebrate this time-honored fall tradition at Sauder Village (Wed. Sept. 21 – Sat. Sept. 24).
The highlight of the week takes place in the 1910 Homestead where the delicious apple butter is made. Guests can enjoy apple schnitzing demonstrations in the homestead cellar and then watch as gallons of apple cider and bushels of the thinly sliced apples are simmered over an open fire and stirred until the mixture reduces to form the thick, sweet spread.
“For our ancestors, surviving the winter was really a year ‘round activity,” shared Andi Erbskorn, curator of education. “Crops were planted, food was harvested, meat was hunted and all was preserved with an eye towards the long winter months ahead. That’s what our costumed staff focuses on in the fall, especially during our Apple Butter Making Week.”
Another way to preserve apples was to press them into cider. Throughout the week the historic wooden press will be put to use to make apple cider. The apple cider is then used in the historic village to make apple butter as well as later on to make vinegar and jellies. There will be many other apple-related activities taking place throughout the week as well. Guests can try packing apples in barrels for winter storage and watch apple cooking demonstrations in some of the historic homes. New this year, guests can also watch as costumed guides make apple pectin – the ingredient that makes jelly “gel”. Apple cores and peels are boiled to make syrup which is then added to fruits to make jams and jellies.
We hope you’ll join us for this fun-filled autumn event at Sauder Village! If you’d like to try making some apple butter in your home, here’s a recipe we often share with teachers looking to continue the experience in their classroom! Why not do the same thing with your children at home – try making some apple butter in your own kitchen. Enjoy!
Aunt Vicky's Crock-pot Apple Butter... a modern version of a traditional rural favorite
2 c. cider
10 c. unsweetened applesauce ***
3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. allspice
Reduce cider to 1 cup by boiling it. Combine and stir all ingredients in crock-pot and cook uncovered 6 to 8 hours on high setting. Let your children take turns stirring so that the apple butter doesn't burn.
The amount of moisture in the applesauce determines when the apple butter will be done. To tell when it is finished, spoon some on a saucer. If juice runs out, it is not done.
*** To make the applesauce: Macintosh apples and apple juice work best. You may need (6) 3 lb. bags of apples to make 10 cups of sauce. The day before you plan on making the apple butter, cook the sliced and cored apples in some apple juice in a crock-pot until soft and put through a sieve.
This fresh apple butter is best on homemade bread. Delicious!