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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Continuing on from the previous entry regarding apple cider, another use of the apple cider was in making apple butter.  In the 1840s this was minimally an all-day endeavor, sometimes two-days, and the apples were oftentimes cooked outside in a large kettle over an open fire.  According to Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie circa 1842, it was essential not to cook the apple butter in a brass or bell-metal (bronze with 3/4 parts copper and 1 part tin) “on account of the verdigris which the acid will collect in it, and, which will render the apple butter extremely unwholesome, not to say poisonous.”  Other recipes do allow for cooking in a brass or copper kettle as apple butter cooked in an iron pot can result in poor flavor.  However, they also do address the potential for verdigris thereby rendering the apple cider not as wholesome of a product and recommends minimum consumption.

Making Apple Butter

Image from Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival on their website

The apple butter produced would keep for a year.  The basic recipe involved filling the kettle with apple cider and boiling it down until it was reduced by half.  Peeled, cored, and quartered apples would then be added to the pot as could be covered by the cider.  Eliza Leslie advises making a large quantity of apple butter resulting in a two-day process as it would take the whole day to simply stew the apples.  The apples were cooked until softened and then removed and put aside to cool as more apples were added to cook until softened.  The next day the apples and cider would be boiled again until “the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour of a very dark brown.  Twenty minutes or a half an hour before you finally take it from the fire, add powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to your taste.  If the spice is boiled too long it will lose its flavour.”

Here’s a link to an article on how to make traditional apple butter the old-fashioned way–over the open fire in a large kettle.  Copper Kettle Magic:  The Art of Making Apple Butter

Have you ever tried apple butter?

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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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