Historical Accounts on Very Old Fashioned, pre-20th Century, Shelf Stable Apple Butter

The following is the research material I compiled while looking for information on how to make the real old school shelf stable apple butter.   This is real apple butter, which originated as a way to store apples without refrigeration, before canning was available or common.  I could not find a single modern reference to anyone still making it this way.  Modern Apple butter is more like thick apple sauce.  I think this type of information is fascinating.  I put it here so that anyone can use it without having to do the many hours of research I did.  Yay internet!

This material is scanned from books.  I corrected it briefly, but there may be misspellings.  They are all available free online in digital version.  If you make this type of apple butter, I'd love to hear about it in the comments either on the YouTube video, or on the accompanying blog post!

Page 219 of
The Every-Day Cook-Book and Encyclopedia of Practical Recipes For Family Use
by Miss E. Neill

Mercantile Pub. and Adv. Co.

Apple Butter

Boil one barrel of new cider down half, peel and core three bushels of good cooking apples; when the cider has boiled to half the quantity, add the apples, and when soft, stir constantly for from eight to ten hours.  If done it will adhere to an inverted plate.  Put away in stone jars (not earthen ware), covering first with writing-paper cut to fit the jar, and press down closely upon the apple butter; cover the whole with thick brown paper snugly tied down.

The Canadian Horticulturist, Volume 11

Apple-Butter in Pennsylvania.

One of the most delicious dishes among our Pennsylvania German farmers is apple butter. It is made in the fall of the year, of ripe apples and pure sweet cider. I remember in childhood, how, long before daylight, the great copper kettle, holding more than a barrel of cider, was placed over a roaring wood fire, where it continued to boil until the cider was reduced to less than one half the original amount. As soon as the morning's work was done up, the whole family began to pare and cut into quarters the apples. This was a long task,keeping five or six persons busy until the noon hour. My earliest remembrance reaches to the time when the paring machine was not in common use; so that all hard work had to be done by hand.

When the cider was reduced to one half, the cut apples began to be introduced, a pailful at a time. The fire was kept roaring all the while With the introduction of the apples began the stirring. This was done with a stirrer having a handle over ten feet in length, the stirrer being fastened at right angles to the handle. From noon until 10 o'clock at night the stirring frequently went on without intermission. The contents were boiled and boiled, until there resulted a sweet stiff mass, considerably less in volume than half a barrel. When done, it was dipped out into earthenware vessels, over the top of which was tied brown paper, and then the vessels were stored away in the garret, where the butter has been known to keep for twenty-five years.

Apple-butter is a very healthy food, and in great demand among farmers in Pennsylvania during the butchering season to assist in the digestion of fatty foods then so largely in use. Sugar is sometimes added, if the cider and apples both are sour, but if the cider is made from ripe apples, not too sour, and boiled down well, sugar will not be needed. Some season with various spices, but generally it is best with no spices.

Pear-butter may be made in the same way as apple-butter, using apple cider and pears. It is richer than apple butter. An excellent butter is also made by using half pears and half apples. Quinces may also be used to flavor the butter, but they are too rich to be used alone.

So far as I know the apple-butter here described is a Pennsylvania dish. It differs from that made elsewhere in the long boiling to which it is subjected, but this gives it its principal excellence. It has often occurred to me that apple-butter might be made with profit on a large scale, but the public taste would probably first have to be educated to use it.

The American Missionary, Volumes 19-20 American Missionary Association., 1875

This making of apple butter is in every sense a family work—from the picking of apples in the sunshine of the dear old home orchards—all through. Even our little two year old can hand apples from the tub to the paring machine; then there is a strife to see who shall quarter fastest! And ere we are ready to get through our work, the enjoyable evening is over, and the tubs full of quarters for the next day’s work. Early in the morning a fire is built under the large kettles, the cider is boiled down, the apple quarters are thrown in, and cider added from another boiling kettle, and apples thrown in, and stirred, and stirred all day, after the good old Dutch fashion. Mother and all take turns in the smoke, the busy stirring work, and watching it, and trying when it is done; and as the evening draws on, the sauce for the year is ready — the large kettles are cleaned, the apple butter placed in jars in the ‘ store-room— and the family gather at night in the dining-room— satisfied with a good day‘s work done.

The Farmer's Cabinet, and American Herd Book, Volume 3 1839

Being at the house of a good old German friend in Pennsylvania, in September last, we noticed upon the table what was called apple butter; and finding it an agreeable article, we inquired into the modus operandi in making it.

To make this article according to German law, the host should in the autumn invite his neighbors, particularly the young men and maidens, to make up an apple butter party. Being assembled, let three bushels of fair sweet apples be pared, quartered, and the cores removed. Meanwhile let two barrels of new cider be boiled down to one-half. When this is done, commit the prepared apples to the cider, and henceforth let the boiling go on briskly and systematically. But to accomplish the main design, the party must take turns at stirring the contents without cessation, that they do not become attached to the side of the kettle and be burned. Let this stirring go on till the liquid becomes concrete—in other words, till the amalgamated cider and apples become as thick as hasty pudding—then throw in seasoning of pulverized allspice, when it may be considered as finished, and committed to pots for future use. This is apple butter—and it will keep sweet for very many years. And depend upon it, it is a capital article for the table— very much superior to any thing that comes under the name of apple sauce.

Bulletin, Issues 52-59

The Department, 1899 - Agriculture

We cannot leave the subject of apples and cider without mentioning apple-butter or "lott wahrig" as it is sometimes called locally. This product has become almost an article of necessity to the native inhabitant and no Pennsylvania farmer considers his fall work completed, if he has not made up his annual supply of this delicacy. The popularity of apple-butter, however, is no longer limited to our rural sections, but has extended to the cities, so that its manufacture on a large scale has become in some places a business of considerable profit.

Method of Manufacture.
Apple-butter is usually made by boiling together apples and cider, until the mixture is reduced to about one-third the original volume. A small quantity of ground cinnamon or other spice is then generally added for the purpose of flavoring; boiled cider, cider jelly, and sugar are also frequently mixed with the butter according to the desires of the consumer. After running through a colander to remove coarse particles, such as seeds, etc., the butter is stored in tightly covered jars.

The Danger in the Use of Copper and Brass Kettles.
In the rural districts the boiling of cider and apple butter is generally conducted in copper or brass kettles. Great care must be exercised in the use of such utensils; they should be scoured with hot vinegar and thoroughly rinsed before using, and the butter or jelly, as soon as finished, should be removed immediately. By the action of the malic acid during boiling upon the surface of the kettle, especially if the latter is tarnished in any way, a small amount of copper malate is apt to be formed and taken up by the contents of the kettle. Copper malate, like other organic salts of copper, is a virulent poison, and its presence in food materials renders the use of the latter necessarily dangerous. The apple-butter or jelly which sometimes adheres to the bottom and sides of kettles is especially apt to be contaminated, and scrapings from brass or copper kettles should never be used. Several deaths have resulted in Pennsylvania the past fall from neglect of this precaution. Wherever possible, in making apple-butter, some form of the improved steam cookers now manufactured should be used.

The Chemical Composition of Apple-Butter.
The chemical composition of apple-butter varies according to the proportions of the ingredients used and the amount of concentration during boiling. The following analyses made by the writer may be considered perhaps as typical as any. The apple-butter analyzed was manufactured by Mr. Henry Shreffler, of State College, Pa., for his own family use. Two bushels of pared and cored apples and twentyeight gallons of cider were boiled down to about ten gallons of butter: no sugar was added.

The Dollar Farmer, Volumes 1-4, 1843

We have eaten apple-butter made by the Germans in Pennsylvania, and a most excellent thing it is. Rev. Mr. Drew, while editor of the Maine Cultivator, a few years since, gave the following directions for making. We have had it made of an excellent quality as detailed below, £ the cider was boiled down to one-third, which was considered an improvement in the quality, and it would keep the better:
“Late in the autumn, when the evenings become quite long, invite one of those social parties to your house, which are made truly social by being gathered for the purpose of performing something useful and seasonable, ' bees; for they are busy seasons, when drones have no place. Commit to these good-hearted and merry neighbors six bushels of their sweet apples, and set the ladies at work paring, quartering, and coring them. Meanwhile let the boys or young men be engaged in boiling down two barrels of new cider, to the dimensions of one. When the apples are prepared, (which will make just about a barrel,) deposit them in the boiling down barrel of cider, apportioning them in different vessels if you have not one large enough for the whole, or manufacturing a less quantity than above stated, if you do not want so much, but regarding the proportions; and then commences the real work of making apple-butter. Pile on the wood and keep the fire blazing. Mean
while, from the time the boiling commences, the contents must be stirred up by a suitable stick
without a moment's cessation. This will require alternate turns from all the members of the party; a merry business amongst them all night to accomplish the object; but when the whole is reduced to a pap about the consistency of thick hasty pudding, turn in some essence of lemon or cinnamon to give it a flavor, and the operations may cease, the fire suffered to die away, and the party return to their homes. The ensuing day the mass may be committed to pots and jars for future use.  When cooked, it will be about as hard and fine as butter. It is a delicious article and will keep many years; indeed it improves by age. That which we ate in Pennsylvania was seven years old. Families in that region make no applesauce, or rather they make it this way, once in seven years only, and then call together friends and neighbors for a great operation. We made 100 lbs. three years ago, directly after our return, and a fine article it is. We keep it for the benefit of age.”

The New England Farmer, Volume 12Thomas W. Shepard, 1834

The following has been furnished to us, by a correspondent, as a correct account of the best way of making Apple Butter, so little known in the southern states, and so much valued in the northern:

"First, boil down the best flavored cider, of selected fruit, (and sweet is the best to keep) to two thirds of the quantity put in. To every barrel of cider, put in six bushels of apples, of best quality, pared, quartered, and cleaned of the cores, and free from rots and bruises.
"As soon as boiled down one-third, as above, feed in the quartered apples as fast jas they boil away, which must be done in brass or copper. It is best to have two kettles, in order to supply the finisher from the other, which keeps it from boiling the apples too much. It will require from 12 to I5 hours constant and moderate boiling, when it must be stirred at the bottom to prevents its burning, by a long handle, with a piece of wood three or four inches wide attached to the other end.

"To know when it is done, cool and try some of it on a plate, till the liquid ceases to run from it. Towards the close of it, some put in cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.

"If only one kettle is used, each parcel of raw apples must not be boiled or brought down too much before another supply is added. If it scorches in the operation, it is ruined. As soon as done, it must be taken out immediately from the kettle into wooden vessels to cool, and afterwards into crocks, or stone ware, or wood; but in order to keep it best in summer, crocks of stone were are to be preferred."

Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 6

William Tait, Mrs. Christian Isobel Johnstone
W. Tait, 1839

...In the afternoon, I reached a store known by the name of Swampgrove; and a few hundred yards beyond it, I observed a man before me, of no very decent appearance. I was now about five or six miles from Potsdam, and, not wishing to enter the town in such kind of company, I made up my mind to quicken my pace, accost him civilly with a " Good day," and go a-head of him. I did so, and had got a few steps a-head, when I heard him muttering something. I stopped to see what he wanted, when he asked me if I was going to Potsdam. I told him I did not know whether I would go that length to-night or not, and left him again. But my gentleman was not going to let me slip so easily a-head of him. I heard him speaking to me again, and, of course, had to stop till he came up.
Says he to me—" If you don't know whether you are going to Potsdam or not, you may as well go home with me."

I looked in the man's face to see if I could get any information there, but there was nothing like a.home stamped upon it. It was a round, pale, doughy face, surmounted by an old hat, knocked into every kind of shape; and, below, it was garnished by a black beard, which had not felt the razor for many a-day. His other accoutrements were an old round* about, duck trousers, and a pillow-slip slung over his shoulders, with something in each end to balance it. I had already set him down as a runaway sailor; but when he spoke about his home, I really did not know what to make of him, and a half desire entered my mind to kno» more about him.

"How far is it to your house?" I inquired.
"Scarcely two miles," h« replied, with » Dutch accent.
Content from Google Book Search, generated at 1447796673255778
"Well, I shall think of it as we proceed ; and, in the meantime, I thank you for your kind intention"
As we went easily along, we continued our conversation ; and, among other items, he told me that he had been at the store purchasing some little things for his wife, as she was making apple-butter, and was going to have a great apple paring—that he had bespoken some fiddles —10 they would have quite a frolic of it.
"Apple-butter, did you say ?—what kind of butter is that?"
"It is made of apples, pared, cut into pieces, and boiled in cider till it becomes a kind of jelly."

We were not long in arriving at the end of the lane leading up to the house, and, as his information made me still more curious, I had made up my mind to go along with him. A short way up the lane, we encountered a wagon, with a fine team of four horses. It stopped as we came up, and the driver and my companion had some talk. After it had passed, I said, half jokingly—for I had set down my man as half deranged in the intellect—
"1 suppose that is your team?"
"Yes, that's my team," says he.
I smiled, and had some thoughts of turning back again, being convinced that the man was fully mad; but curiosity still kept me going along with him. By-and-by we came in sight of a white-washed two-story stone house.
"Well, I suppose this is your house, too," says I to him.
"Yes," says he, "that's my house, and I will make you as comfortable as I can in it."
I thanked him a second time, but could not help thinking he was about leading me into some scrape or other, as a shabbier, or more blackguard-looking man could scarcely be. However, I kept my thoughts to myself, and followed him into the house ; and, sure enough, there was the big copper on the fire, and the apple-butter, that was shout to be, tumbling to and fro in it. A handsome young woman, with a pipe in her mouth, was busily engaged in attending to the concern, to whom I was introduced as the wife of my conductor. The mother, a very decent matron, neatly and cleanly dressed, soon made her appearance from another room; to whom I was also introduced. As the ceremony of introduction took place in Dutch—the only language spoken in the house—I know not what story my friend told, nor what reasons he gave for bringing me to the house; but I saw well enough that I was welcome, for they all seemed well pleased, and I was directed to take my seat in a fine., antique-looking elbow-chair—the place of honour—and I soon had my pipe in my mouth like the rest of them. At supper we had a hand at the apple-butter; and I now recollected that 1 had before tasted some of it in coming through the Jerseys, but did not know that it went by that name. It is really excellent, and quite American; and, believe me, buckwheat cakes and apple-butter are a feast for a king: I guess
Queen Victoria has never tasted any thing so fine.

By-and-by, the apple-parers began to drop in—young people of both sexes—until the house was full; when we set to work cutting up the apples like desperation; every one, as is customary upon such occasions, doing his host, and striving to shew how clever he is. The labour was enlivened by a variety of jokes, stories, and songs. Our principal songstress was a blooming young woman, with cheeks as red and plump as any apple; she appeared to me to be the reigning belle—the queen of the meeting; at least I could easily perceive she thought so herself. She gave us a variety of songs ; and though not with the sweetness of a Caradori, I believe it was good enough for Dutch singing; for the company, every now and then, burst into fits of laughter. As I could not understand a word, my principal business was to appear well pleased, and show my industry at the apples. After business was finished, we ought to have had the ball; but, as the fiddlers, somehow or other, did not come, the company dispersed, and I retired to bed.

Table Talk, Volume 8, 1893

Take new, sweet cider. If possible it should not be more than thirty-six hours old. Boil it down one-half, then add by measure half as much apple as cider. The apples should be pared, cored and sliced. Cook very slowly, skimming if necessary, stirring often; when the apple begins to cook to pieces, sweeten to taste with light brown sugar. The butter is better for being slightly tart. Season with spices, if desired, but if cooked well the true apple flavor is preserved better without.

Peel, cover and slice the apples. To every five quarts allow one teaspoonful each of cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Cover with sweet cider and boil slowly, stirring often, until it has cooked down to the consistency of a soft jam.

In the South apple butter is made by the barrelful and cooked in the open air. To every bushel of apples take five gallons of sweet cider. Boil the cider slowly until reduced one-half. This will take eight or ten hours. The next day gradually add the apples peeled, cored and sliced. Cook slowly until the butter is smooth and of the proper consistency. It will take nearly, if not quite the whole day. When it begins to thicken add one tablespoonful of cinnamon, the same of cloves, and two teaspoonfuls of allspice. To try the butter take out a small quantity in a cup and let cool. If it remains thick it is done, but if the apple settles and it looks watery upon the surface it needs longer cooking. Cook until thick and beginning to get solid, and put in jars or tumblers while hot.

History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (1884)

The quilting-party and the apple-butter party were institutions of former days....

apples are plentiful. The Pennsylvania Germans are noted for their apple-butter, which is different from any other, and pronounced by competent judges the most palatable article made. It is not a New England sauce, to be eaten with spoons, nor a Shaker apple-butter, with its pumpkins used in connection with the apples and cider. It is a marmalade, made of sweet cider and schnitz. Schnitz are a Pennsylvania German product, for which there is no English name. At the apple-butter party the schnitz are made. The young folks are seated around a large tub, peeling the apples and cutting them into slices (schnitz), which are thrown into the tub until bushels of them are made. These are poured by the bucketful into the cider, boiling in a kettle which frequently holds a barrel. As the cider concentrates by boiling, and a fresh supply of apples is continually added, the apple-butter thickens. It becomes a brown, smooth mass, which is seasoned with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices, and then put in crocks. The kettle is scraped with pieces of bread, which, with the fresh apple-butter on, are eaten, and constitute one of the pleasures of the party. This apple butter is used as a substitute for molasses, and when spread on bread with schnzicrkaes, another Pennsylvania German product, is unequaled, even by the best of jellies. After the apple-butter is boiled, the young people spend the evening in a manner similar to that of the quilting-party. These gatherings, when not held in connection with quiltings or applebutter boilings, are sometimes called an gruscht.

It is specially worthy of mention, in this connection, that Pennsylvania Germans, the Schimmel family, are the inventors of the butters manufactured now on a large scale from different fruits in their extensive establishments in Philadelphia and Chicago. They commenced the business, which has assumed so large proportions, on a small scale, with a single kettle, less than twenty years ago.

Arthur's Illustrated Home Magazine, Volume 471879

Yesterday I ran in to a neighbor's to see if she had any carpet-rags ready cut and sewed that she could possibly spare us in a pinch like the present, and 1 found her stirring apple-butter, and three of her neighbors preparing more fruit for thickening. 1 was in a hurry, for the weaver had fell short of the colors of green and black filling; but my walk hac
>een up-hill, and I was entitled to sit and rest, so Improved the time talking. One woman put her apple-butter in gallon crocks and jars; another put hers in a half-barrel keg, and used out of the side of it; and the other kept hers in three and four-gallon jar. They asked our way, or the way we did long ago when the deacon's house was jubilant with the music of children's voices, and the little ones liked something to spread on "top of the cow-butter."
We learned by experience that a keg of applebutter would sour if we used out of it in moderate weather, the same as a gallon jar of jam would. When we made a large quantity of it then, we reheated it in the spring, and put it into vessels not containing over one gallon. If it was too strong, or too sour, we added sugar and cinnamon to the small quantity designed for immediate use, generally preparing one crockfull at a time as we needed it. What rivers of apple-butter the American people are making.  An incident happened lately that afforded a jolly laugh to us. Lily and I were walking one night in October, arm in arm, down the road to the village. It was quite dark, but clear and starry, and the south wind blew breezy enough to fluff up the hair of our uncovered heads. The village lights twinkled cheerily, and here and there flamed and flared the blazes under the kettles containing apple-butter in all stages, from the sweet cider, warm and brimming, down to the thick ruby mass beginning to glisten and show signs of fulfillment.
I said: "See the kettles out in Bodkin's yard, and Professor Leslie's, and Williams's, and Showalter's, and the Widow Lane's, and Johnny Hermon's, and over at Mike Cole's, and at about every third house in town."
"Yes, and one can smell hot cider in the very winds from the south," said Lily, "and once in awhile you get an intimation of 'boiling over' or 'sticking fast.' What a panic sweeps over the land, and how like a malignant epidemic it goes from house 'to house, attacking both old and young, and married and single. We hear it, and feel it, and taste it, and smell it."
Just here two gentlemen came up behind us horseback, and in the gathering darkness we stepped aside to let them pass, and as I turned my head away from the breeze I heard one of them speak just one word, and that word was, "apple-butter." Their conversation had been on this prevailing topic.
A suggestion presented itself to me. I said: "Lily, what a charming theme for a poem, allowing the end of every verse to be the word 'apple-butter.'"
And then she assisted me in thinking of rhymes, such as flutter, sputter, cut her, utter, mutter, stutter, gutter, putter, clutter, shutter; and we planned a poem that would reach every home, and raise a laugh from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Directions for cookery, in its various branches, Eliza Leslie
Carey & Hart, 1840

APPLE BUTTER WITHOUT CIDER.—To ten gallons of water add six gallons of the best molasses, mixing them well together. Put it into a large kettle over a good fire; let it come to a hard boil, and skim it as long as any scum continues to rise. Then take, out half the liquid, and put it into a tub. Have ready eight bushels of fine sound apples, pared, cored and quartered. Throw them gradually into the liquid that is still boiling on the fire. Let it continue to boil hard, and as it thickens, add by degrees the other half of the molasses and water, (that which has been put into the tub.) Stir it frequently to prevent its scorching, and to make it of equal consistence throughout. Boil it ten or twelve hours, continuing to stir it. At night take it out of the kettle, and set it in tubs to cool; covering it carefully. Wash out the kettle and wipe it very dry.

Next morning boil the apple butter six or eight hours longer; it should boil eighteen hours altogether. Half an hour before you take it finally out, stir in a pound of mixed spice; cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, all finely powdered. When entirely done, put up the apple butter in stone or earthen jars. It will keep a year or more.
It can, of course, be made in a smaller quantity than that given in the above receipt; and also at any time in the winter; fresh cider not being an ingredient, as in the most usual way of making apple butter.

Experiment Station Work: Storing Apples Without Ice, Fresh and Canned Tomatoes, Cold Storage on the Farm, Purslane, Mechanical Cold Storage for Fruit, Mutton Sheep, Keeping Qualities of Apples, Effect of Cotton Seed Meal on the Quality of Butter, Improvement of Blueberries, Transplanting Muskmelons, Grain Feed of Milch Cows, Banana Flour, Protection Against Texas Fever. 1899. XV

A. J. Pieters, Daniel Flint, Edward Bennett Garriott, Edward James Wickson, Gustavus Benson Brackett, Helen W. Atwater, Henry Elijah Alvord, James Withcombe, Leland Ossian Howard, Liberty Hyde Bailey, P. Beveridge Kennedy, Samuel Mills Tracy, Seaman Ashahel Knapp, Thomas Albert Williams, Alexander McAdie
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1899

Apple butter of the real, rich, old-time farm product, not the thin, factory-made excuse, fills an important place in the household economy and always finds a ready sale at good prices.

Boiled cider made in the good old-fashioned way by reducing to one-fifth by boiling, and canned, makes an excellent article for culinary purposes, for making apple butter, apple sauce, or for use in apple or mince pies. It also has a commercial value.

Cobbett's Political Register, Volume 50, Issue 1, Cox and Baylis, 1824

    35.    Pound Sweeting is about the colour of the Doctor. The ground of a deeper yellow than the Doctor; it is also larger. It ripens early; is Vert Sweet. It is used to make apple sauce, (or apple butter, as the people call it,) for which purpose it is most excellent, as it requires no sugar; it is of course good for baking. In the neighbourhood of Yankees, they call it the baking apple. It sometimes weighs a pound.
    36.   Tender Sweeting (for Cider).. Green, pretty good size, good for. cooking, requires no sugar, makes good apple butter, and is good for Cider. It is very tender, almost as' tender as a peach. Keeps well till Christmas.

The Western Farmer and Gardener, Volumes 2-3, Charles Forster, 1841

Over medium size; form flat; color a brownish red, with a mixture of a small portion of greenish yellow; the flesh is firm and solid, very sweet and rich, rather dry, not very sprightly, no acid; excellent for cooking or making rich apple butter; keeps well till late in the spring; tolerable bearer.

Farmers' Bulletin, Issue 900, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1920

Apple butter has probably not lost its old-time popularity, but it does not seem to be made in such generous quantities nor in so many homes as formerly. There is no better way to use good apples and the sound portions of windfall, wormy, and bruised apples than to make them into butter, either in small or large quantities.  While almost any apples will make good apple butter, those which have a distinctively rich tart flavor and good cooking quality are most satisfactory. Such old standard varieties as Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Tompkins King, and Smokehouse are excellent for this purpose. It has been found in recent tests by the United States Department of Agriculture that the summer varieties make as rich and' snappy apple butter as the fall and Winter varieties. Varieties of coarse texture naturally make a rather coarse product unless put through a colander or wire sieve after first being made into apple sauce before adding them to the cider. Sometimes sweet apples are used with tart apples, the usual proportion being one-third of the former to two-thirds of the latter. Overripe apples are not desirable, but if they must be used add a little vinegar to give some snap to the butter. The proportion of vinegar required must be determined by the taste.

It has been accepted generally that the sweet cider must be boiled down at least one-half before the apples are added and cooking begun and that slow cooking for hours was absolutely necessary. This, however, is not necessary; in fact, it is a loss of time and fuel to boil down the cider first and then cook the apples in it for a long time. Just as high a grade of butter will result by adding the apples to the unboiled cider and cooking rapidly until finished. Small lots of apple butter may be made in one hour, or less, by putting the apples into sweet cider and cooking as fast as is safe without scorching. Large quantities take a longer time, but may be cooked as rapidly as possible. Strict-attention must be given to stirring, in order that the butter may not scorch and stick to the kettle.

APPLE BUTTER WITH CIDER:  Either fresh cider or commercial sterilized cider may be used. The usual proportion of peeled and sliced apples and cider is gallon for gallon, but from one-half to threequarters of a gallon of cider to a gallon of peeled and sliced apples will give a rich product if the apples are good cookers. Less than half as much cider as prepared apples is likely to make an apple sauce rather than a butter, unless it is cooked very slowly for four to six hours.

Continue the cooking until the cider and apples do not separate and the butter, when cold, is as thick as good apple sauce. Determine the thickness at frequent intervals by cooling small portions.

If sugar is used, add it after the cooking of cider and apples is about two-thirds done.2 About a pound of either white or brown sugar is the usual proportion per gallon of apple butter, but more or less (or not any) may be used, to suit the taste.

Apple butter is spiced according to taste, about half a teaspoonful each of ground cinnamon, cloves, and allspice being used for each gallon. These are stirred into it when the cooking is finished.
Vanilla extract added after the spices are stirred in improves the quality and adds to the snappiness of the butter. Use from 2 to 4 teaspoonfuls per gallon of butter, according to taste.

          Air-" Kay's Wife,"

'Twas Spring, and near the last of Lent.
When days were bright, and long, and sunny,
When heat began as if it meant
To ruin apple-sauce and honey;
A certain little thrifty dame.
Whose name it suits me not to utter.
Thought, by re-stewing, to reclaim
The flavour of her Apple-Butter.
She told her husband he must buy
A crock, or jar, for the occasion;
Which he forgot—The reason why,
Was owing to hit meditation,
The little dame began to scold,
Tliat is to say—to make a splutter,
And to her husband plainly toki,
She meant to save her Apple-Butter.
Then to a neighbor's house she ran.
Though in a pet, quite free from sorrow;
She there developed all her plan.
And mention'd what she wish'd to borrow;
Then home she bore a massive jar,
Which in a perspiration put her;
Resolv'd was sire that nought should mir
Her plan to save, her Apple-Butter.
The stove was heated nearly red,
When she had all the trappings ready.
She call'd her man, whose name was Ned
(Or, mure familiarly, call'd Neddy,)
Within the stove he put the jar,
An oath till then he ne'er did[ utter.
He burned his hand—which made him swear
And abnost curse the Apple-Butter.
The jar was in—and there it staid,
For out it never could be taken:
Ned did his best, but was afraid,
Within the stove to risk his bacon.
The little dame was in the dumps,
And did moat lamentably mutter
Her sad complaints—and stirred her stumps,
In hopes to save her Apple-Butter.
The lower border of her frock,
The dame picK'd up, to mend the blunder.
And pull'd—and pull'd—at length the crock
Was absolutely pulled asunder.'
And she was scalded on the shins!
Said Ned, " By gel that ends the sputter
And now 1 guess as how your sins,
Are sorter washed in Apple-Butter'

Riding with Custer: Recollections of a Cavalryman in the Civil War

James Harvey Kidd
U of Nebraska Press, 1908

During the day it was a constant succession of fertile fields and leafy woods.  Commodious farm houses on every hand and evidences of plenty everywhere, we reveled in the richness and overflowing abundance of the land.  There were “oceans” of apple-butter and great loaves of snow-white bread that “took the cake” over anything that came within the range of my experience.  These loaves were baked inbrick ovens, out of doors, and some of them looked as big as peck measures.  A slice cut from one of them and smeared thick with that delicious apple-butter, was a feast fit for gods or men.


Kentucky Receipt Book
Frazer Mary Harris
Рипол Классик, 1903

One peck of apples, 2 gallons reduced cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Use new dicer, and boil until reduced 1/2.  It must be boiled the day before it is needed.  Pare, core and quarter the apples, put in porcelain kettle as many at a time as the cider will moisten, pap, as fast as they soften.  When reduced to a thick paste, add some brown sugar and the spices.  Boil a few minutes longer.  Then put into jars.  Water may be substituted for the cider, and in that case, use more sugar.

Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade
 By John Overton Casler, Robert K. KricUniv of South Carolina Press, 1906

There was one large farmhouse close by where we pioneers were placed, and we went to it and found a bountiful supply of provisions.  The family must have left in haste, as the table was still set, with the dishes on it, just as if they had left their meal and run for dear life.  We found several barrels of flour, a smokehouse full of bacon, a springhouse full of milk and butter, the garret full of crocks of apple butter, and everything eatable that is kept in the farmhouse of a well to do Pennsylvania Dutchman.

The Conquest of the Missouri
 By Joseph Mills HansonPelican Publishing, 1918

By that time it was thick and heavy and required frequent stirrings with a large ladle to keep it from burning.  Here is where the fun came in, or the ladle was too large, in theory, at least, to be handled by one person, and it was customary for the girls and boys in pairs to take turns in stirring.  The lady always had the choice of a partner to assist her when her turn came, and whichever swain she selected was regarded by the others as her favorite “beau,” he and she both being subjected to all the good-natured banter that the wits of the assemblage could devise.  When the work was completed, the guests partook of as much of the fresh apple-butter as they cared for, while the remainder went to replenish the home larder of the hostess.


Old Time Gardens: Newly Set Forth
 By Alice Morse EarleUPNE, 1901

“ But of greatest importance, both for home consumption and for the market, is the staple known as Apple butter. This is made from sweet cider boiled down to about one-third its original quantity. To this is added an equal weight of sliced Apples, about a third as much of molasses, and various spices, such as cloves, ginger, mace, cinnamon or even pepper, all boiled together for twelve or fifteen hours. Often the great kettle is filled with cider in the morning, and boiled and stirred constantly all day, then the sliced Apples are added at night, and the monotonous stirring continues till morning, when the butter can be packed in jars and kegs for winter use. This Apple butter is not at all like Apple sauce ; it has no granulated appearance, but is smooth and solid like cheese and dark red in color. Apple butter is stirred by a pole having upon one end a perforated blade or paddle set at right angles. Sometimes a bar was laid from rim to rim of the caldron, and worked by a crank that turned a similar paddle. A collection of ancient “utensils used in making Apple butter is shown on page 211; these are from the collections of the Bucks County Historical Society. Opposite page 214 is shown an ancient open-air fireplace and an old couple making Apple butter just as they have done for over half a century.

In New England what the " hired man " on the farm called " biled cider Apple sass," took the place of Apple butter. Preferably this was made in the "summer kitchen," where three kettles, usually of graduated sizes, could be set over the fire; the three kettles could be hung from a crane, or trammels. All were filled with cider, and as the liquid boiled away in the largest kettle it was filled from the second and that from the third. The fresh cider was always poured into the third kettle, thus the large kettle was never checked in its boiling. This continued till the cider was as thick as molasses. Apples (preferably Pound Sweets or Pumpkin Sweets) had been chosen with care, pared, cored, and quartered, and heated in a small kettle. These were slowly added to the thickened cider, in small quantities, in order not to check the boiling. The rule was to cook them till so softened that a rye straw could be run into them, and yet they must retain their shape. This was truly a critical time ; the slightest scorched flavor would ruin the whole kettleful. A great wooden, long-handled, shovel-like ladle was used to stir the sauce fiercely until it was finished in triumph. Often a barrel of this was made by our grandmothers, and frozen solid for winter use. The farmer and "hired men ate it clear as a relish with meats ; and it was suited to appetites and digestions which had been formed by a diet of salted meats, fried breads, many pickles, and the drinking of hot cider sprinkled with pepper.

Emerson well named the Apple the social fruit of New England. It ever has been and is still the grateful promoter and unfailing aid to informal social intercourse in the country-side; but the Apple tree is something far nobler even than being the sign of cheerful and cordial acquaintance; it is the beautiful rural, emblem of industrious and temperate home life. Hence, let us wassail with a will:

"Here's to thee, old Apple tree ! Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow, And whence thou mayst bear Apples enow !”

Vick's Monthly Magazine, Volume 10 1887

One of the highest gifts that can be bestowed on man or woman is that of making the best of losses. Nobody needs to cultivate this tact more than farmers, who are compelled to meet many unforeseen misfortunes, and those which can't be reckoned upon. The margin for making a good turn of a bad matter is wider than we give nature credit for. For instance, this is a short Apple year, and the yield is poor at that. Half the Apples in these parts are too wormy for marketing, and in consequence rot on the ground. The enterprising few make them into cider, which is very poor usage. It is bad judgment to make inferior fruit into cider, when one poor Apple will spoil the flavor of a barrel. But it is all right to make mean Apples into Apple butter, for in paring and quartering the bad parts are removed, and the long stewing and spicing render the gnarliest, hardest fruit as eatable as prize Pippins. There is this to say, that what is left of wormy Apples after the worm traces are all cut out, is usually of higher flavor than common. If you want the best of the orchard take a bite of the sound side of a wormy Apple. Worms go for good living, and one might say, pick out the best fruit, only the fact that the egg is laid in the flower spoils that view of it.

The best way to work up a basket of poor fruit is to put a half peck at a time in a pan of water where they will wash themselves and pare from it. But don't bother paring poor Apples to begin. Rinse the Apple and quarter it without paring or coring. It is easy by a turn of the knife to cut out the bad heart of each quarter and the poor places on the rind, then you have only to pare the sound bit that remains. A bushel of fruit can be worked up this way much quicker than you can pare with a machine, core, and then trim them, and in a poor fruit year it pays to make the most you can of what the harvest leaves to you. Drop the pared bits into a pan of clean water, for there will be worm specks adhering that need rinsing off. When a kettleful is ready ladle the fruit out and boil for Apple butter or sauce.

This year, all the nubbins of the orchard, the little unripe fruit that falls, can be worked up to swell the crop. Most of this immature fruit doesn't need paring or coring. The green skins and seeds boil away, and add a fine flavor. A wise orchardist will save half his crop by using the green Apples freely when they are no bigger than his thumb, thinning the fruit and turning the thinnings to account, for a very choice flavoring will be found in the earliest green Apples stewed, skins and seeds and all, when the infant seeds have a fine Bitter Almond taste. The wild Apples and Crabs are fine for every cooking use, to add flavor to sweet Apples, or such as have lost their flavor; and a firkin of Crab Apple butter is good to keep for this purpose.

Making Apple butter is almost one of the lost arts, but I have gathered the process from old experienced folks, and New York State farmers say that it is Apples pared, cored, cut and boiled in sweet cider till the whole is a dark, rich pulp, and the cider is reduced one-half. No sugar is needed, for the fruit furnishes its own sweetness. Half the Apples may be sour and half sweet, or all sweet, as one likes. It takes nearly two gallons of cider to make one of Apple butter, and spices are added, or not, to taste. I should spice it, the rule being one tablespoonful of Cinnamon and one-third of a teaspoonful of ground Cloves to each gallon of Apple butter, added when it is taken up, boiling hot. It may be kept in barrels, stone pots, or butter firkins and boxes. A clean second-hand butter firkin is a very good thing to keep many kinds of preserves or pickles in.

The great labor of making Apple butter is the constant stirring to keep it from burning, for which a stirrer is used, like a small wooden hoe with holes in the blade, and this is kept scraping the bottom of the kettle an hour or two before all is done. But if you make fruit butter in stone jars in the oven, all this labor is saved, and the flavor is far better. It is time the old brick ovens long built up or neglected, were brought into use again, for they have not their like for preserving and drying fruit. The prunings of the orchard will heat them, or a coal fire can be built in them, as bakers do, and when the heat lowers an oven can be filled with stone jars of fruit in cider, and left to its work till morning. Fruit so cooked is a rich red, clear and highly flavored as a preserve.

Apple butter does not " work," and is highly salable, if it is not made in brass kettles or other metal. No matter how well kept the kettle, the taste will infallibly discover the difference between fruit cooked in metal or stoneware. The German dealers furnish huge stone and earthen pots for boiling Cabbage, which hold six or eight large heads, and these are excellent for making up fruit in quantities, and cheaper than metal. They can be used on the stove, and rarely burn any thing in them. Old farmers say the cost of a barrel of Apple butter is not over ten cents a gallon, and there are few neighborhoods even in the country where a good maker cannot sell his Apple butter at ten to fifteen cents a quart, realizing not far from one dollar a bushel for his poorest Apples in this shape.

Posted on December 29, 2015 .