Roy and Myra Taylor, who live on State Route 37 just east of Sunbury, make apple butter the old-fashioned way, and use the occasion to hold a family gathering.
On Oct. 1, the Taylors hosted about 50 family members and friends from around Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana for a day-long session of apple butter cooking and canning, and family socializing.
“My parents used to do this when I was a kid; five years ago we decided to pick up the tradition,” Roy said. “We were making it at our West Virginia cabin, but after we bought this house two years ago, we decided to move the apple butter tradition here. We enjoy the camaraderie, and the apple butter.”
To our pioneer ancestors, making apple butter was a way to preserve fruit for the long winter months ahead. Making apple butter was a labor-intensive process involving the entire family. Apples were peeled and cored before being cooked in a copper kettle to a caramelized, butter-like consistency, then preserved in glass jars for storage.
Roy said they got their apples from Legend Hills Orchard in Utica. It takes about 20 hours of peeling and coring apples for each batch of apple butter. Wood fires were started at 10 a.m., two antique copper kettles were cooking apples while family members took turns stirring. A canning operation was underway in a garage.
“Each batch takes about four hours,” Roy said. “When it’s done cooking we can it, we enjoy it, and we distribute it to our friends and family.”
By late Saturday, the extended Taylor family had netted 175 pints of apple butter and, the best part, they enjoyed a crisp fall day in each other’s company.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.