Saturday, October 13, 2007

Applebutter Stir-offs Explained

Wow!!! What a run yesterday and today were. The birthday party was a roaring success. The boys Mom arranged for us to have the party at a building that's attached to one of the larger churches here. I don't know what they call the building but it's unbelievable. Our room was large enough for a large play area with climbing/sliding equipment. Another part was for riding kiddie cars, etc. The front part had large round kid size tables and chairs. All the kids had a ball!! It didn't matter that the two boys were having their party together. Two set of friends and everyone just blended. Thank you, Lord. Now on to the next event.

I was so tired Friday night that I decided to make pictures of the cakes this morning but didn't have time. I planned to make the pictures at the party but old senile me left my camera at home. The other grandmother had her camera and my son had the camcorder so maybe I can glean pictures from them. They, however, were focusing on the kids.

What's an applebutter stir-off? It's a tradition in the mountains for families to gather together and combine their harvest (not limited to apples) for preserving. When the job is done all share in the bounty. (I presume it originally was to provide for those who weren't as lucky as others but were willing to contribute what they had and share in the labor.) Making applebutter and sorghum were all day events no matter if done alone at home or in a community setting. In days past (in addition to the goods produced) it was probably one of the only times people had time to really spend a day together to 'catch-up' after a long summer of raising their crops.

Making applebutter is really not rocket science. You just peel, core, and quarter the apples; drop them into the hot copper kettle with just a little apple juice or cider. When the apples were almost like applesauce and just turning golden you sweeten (if needed) a bit and continue to cook until the butter is thick and almost holds it shape when dropped onto a metal tray. (You have to stir constantly to keep the 'batch' from sticking.) Meanwhile someone builds a fire under one or two iron pots, fills them with water, and puts jars into the boiling water. The applebutter is ladled into the jars and the tops were closed tightly to seal. Some folks also melted wax and dipped the top of the jar in to double seal the jars. (I never went the wax route.)

These kind of events were a learning experience for me and it helped to bond me into the community. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Those folks are the salt of the earth. They take care of their family and their neighbor. I was so blessed to be accepted. I know they had a few belly laughs about some of the questions I asked and the mistakes I made.

Well, everyone, that's all you ever wanted to know about applebutter stir-offs and more. I'll try to glean pictures of the cakes and post them.

Tomorrow's Sunday and I plan to enjoy the cooler weather we are FINALLY having and spend sometime with the kids and their families. My best to all.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I take it that you used to live in TN and took part in the stir-offs. What a wonderful tradition. Have you read any books by Robert Morgan? He's a favorite author of mine and writes about that part of the country.

I hope you can glean some pictures. I keep my little camera in my purse cause I never know when I'll want to take a picture.

Have a great Sunday.