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Apple Butter: a festive treat

By Staff | Oct 29, 2010

(Chronicle photo by Jennifer Wabnitz) Apple Butter is being churned by Zach Morgan, at the Shepherdstown Fire Hall in preparation for their Apple Butter Festival Saturday.

The Apple Butter Festival started 20 years ago when a lady named Naomi Miller taught a few firemen how to make apple butter. It was so delicious they decided to sell some, and so it began.

Making apple butter is quite a process. A local orchard donates truck loads of Golden Delicious and Rome apples, 318 bushels this year. Buckets of apples are then cut into quarters. Many dedicated volunteers, like Clarence Branson who has helped for the past 13 years, come in and chop for hours.

Then the apples are heated in a large vat in the fire hall’s kitchen until they are soft. Then they get put through a processor which removes the cores, seeds and skin. Danny Markin, a Shepherdstown volunteer firefighter, works the processor with the help of his brother Keith. Keith comes to be friendly, plus he gets to take the apple skins to lure in the deer during hunting season.

After the processor, the apples go into huge vats and cook for about eight hours. This area has been streamlined over the years. To reduce the labor required they use auto stirrers and gas heat.

Once enough moisture has been removed then they do the taste test. Dennis Barron and his skilled team of tasters then add the necessary sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Naomi taught them not to skimp.

Barron fondly imitated her quote. “Use only the best ingredients.”

The apple butter is for sale for $6 a quart. Visitors will be able to enjoy a pancake breakfast from 6 to 11 a.m. and then lunch starting at 11:30 a.m. There will also be a bake sale and a variety of vendors.

All the proceeds go to the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. They still need additional volunteers to help with the sale on Oct. 30, and they will appreciate all customers.