Fall is in the Air, and Apple Butter in the Pot!

Fall is in the air (even if the temperatures do not feel like it)! Stray leaves are beginning to fall, along with acorns that fall loudly from their perch high in the grand oak trees. The sun has shifted its position in the sky and it’s football time in Tennessee. It’s time for apples, pears, pumpkins, fall squash, and other “yummy” garden harvests, and it’s time for a sweet memory. Ahhhhh…. the smell of apple butter, and pear butter, fills my nostrils, as the memory engulfs me, into a gentler time, when we were not in such a hurry. A time when home-made apple butter and pear butter was “the best thing on the block.”

I must admit, I was a child, thus, the labor is not what I’m remembering. My mother, grandmother and aunt might have a very different memory, if asked, but my memory is nothing but sweet. “Back in the day,” as they say, when the apples and pears started falling from the trees, we knew it was soon to be “butter” making time, and our taste buds began honing up for the occasion. Soon, we started picking up the apples and pears, in grand preparation for the coming event. Excitement mounted as the old ladder was retrieved from the shed and placed on the tree. We could not wait to be old enough, to climb the tree and shake the limbs. On the ground, we dodged as the fruit fell to awaiting baskets. What fun! Every so often, we would be chased by bees, unhappy with their fruit being tampered with by human hands. And, ever so often, our hands would disappear into a nasty, rotten pear, or apple. But for the most part, it was pure joy. Joy, too, in knowing what the next day would bring.

The next day started while the dew was still on the ground (love the feeling). The copper pot with blackened bottom was retrieved from the smoke house and placed on the iron rack over a pile of carefully placed wood. The apples and pears were peeled, prepared, and dumped into the copper pot to cook. The fire was lit, and the waiting began! It seemed to take forever for the first batch to be ready to eat. We played close by, so as not to miss the wonderful aroma, and we loved to hear the boiling sounds. Long, wooden, home-made paddles (much like oars) were used to constantly stir the “butter,” and we all wanted to stir. We were allowed to help until it started getting thick and became too difficult for our young bodies to maneuver the paddles. And how many times did we ask if it was about ready to eat? The smell made us constantly hungry, which made the waiting grueling. When the “butter” was just about ready, my grandmother went into the kitchen and whipped up her “to die for” biscuits. When she appeared again, biscuits in hand, we knew our wait was over, and we ran to the old cooper pot. The pot poured forth her bounty onto our biscuits, and we were not disappointed!

Writing this, I’m wondering where the old copper pot went… and the paddles… and am glad I don’t know! For a moment, I was tempted to bring back the memory, making it a reality again. But on second thought, I’m an adult now… I think I’ll just keep the memory!

Source: K. P. Guessen