Morton runs the Apple Butter Celebration, a 13-year-old event where people help make an old treat: apple butter. The event will be held on Sept. 22 at the Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park.
What is apple butter? Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of applesauce. It's produced by a long, slow cooking of apples. You mix it with cider and it comes to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelizes and it turns the apple butter into a really deep brown look. It spreads, so it's used on breads. A lot of people use it for flavoring in other cooking, and some people like it on products like cottage cheese.
Where does the butter come from? Even though it's called butter, there's no dairy product in it. We use a traditional process that has been going on for decades, and for a lot of families in this region, going on for generations. It's an all-day event, almost a two-day event.
How do you make it? We have a 40-gallon copper kettle, and we need nine bushels of apples. You have to peel them, then you have to core the apple, then you have to snit the apple -- that's just an old-timey term for slicing ... That process can take six to seven hours. Then on the boiling day, we usually start the fire about 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. You put the kettle on, you put the apples in, and that processes takes about 11 hours. And the entire time that process goes, someone has to stir the kettle.
How much do you make? At the end of the event, put on the rubber gloves and it's a fast process. We bring out empty mason jars and pints, and we literally dip it into each mason jar. From that 40-gallon copper kettle, we'll get about 32 gallons of apple butter. - Ben Giles