Apple butter continues to bring in the money
Shepherdstown Fire Department volunteers worked all last week to prepare for the annual Apple Butter festival on Saturday. For the 26th year, the station had folks washing, peeling and cutting apples to be cooked down in one of the nearly two-dozen kettles set up on the bay of the station.
This one-day event is one of the largest fundraisers held by the volunteer department, shared Dennis Barron, treasurer of the company.
On Saturday, the kettles were filled with bubbling brown sweetness, filling the air with the spicy and tempting aroma.
The kettles filled the company’s bays as the fire apparatus was moved outside. The actual cooking of the apple butter had been done outdoors for years; however, according to Barron, it moved inside over the past few years so that the event could be held rain or shine.
According to Chief Ross Morgan, the average day’s work produces about 4,500 jars of the apple butter.
Throughout the day, as the content of the kettles were tasted and deemed ready for jars, more than 20 volunteers lined up at the “filling station” as a kettle was transported via a fork lift. Pitchers of the sauce were then dipped and poured into clean quart jars. Passing down the assembly line, the jars were wiped to ensure there was no residue along the rim, lids placed, tightened, labels applied and then boxed for sale.
Added to the hundreds of bushels of apples were sugar and spices including oil of cinnamon and cloves. Barron said that over the years, the apple butter has been made only with Domino’s Sugar.
“People have suggested we go with a cheaper generic,” Barron said, “but I stick with the Domino’s because of the taste.”
The original recipe for the company’s apple butter came from Naomi Miller who helped the crew get started way back in 1990. Miller was sister to AnnaBelle Osbourn, of Shepherdstown.
Volunteers with the fire department were joined by many others who offered their services to help chop apples, stir and finish the product.
Several groups traditionally volunteer during the event. Among them are Jefferson High’s baseball team and the Eastern Panhandle Chapter of Alumnae Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Cheryl Roberts, with the sorority, said that they have come to assist with the apple butter making for at least the last five years. They had members who helped peel and cut as well as those who stirred kettles on Saturday.
“We want to take one whole kettle from start to finish,” Roberts said as the group of red-shirted women took turns with the huge paddle at kettle no. 15.
“We couldn’t make this happen without everyone’s help,” Morgan said.
Early morning attendees were able to sample some of the week’s apple butter at a breakfast served in the social hall. Topping pancakes, along with eggs, sausage and sausage gravy, the butter gave a touch of sweetness to the hearty meal. Lunch was available later in the day.
In addition to the apple butter, shoppers and visitors could find any number of gift ideas and items at the associated craft fair held inside the station. Baked goods, honey, scarves, jewelry and many more items could be found for purchase just in time for the upcoming holidays.