I know why most people didn’t eat it: it looks like baby food. I remember not wanting to try it when I first saw it because it looks exactly like overcooked, homemade apple sauce, and it smells like overcooked, homemade applesauce. But the taste along could compensate; it’s a warm cinnamon taste, like fall was pureed. Apple butter is used like a jam or sorts, just without the pesky skin that get stuck between your teeth. The only trouble is preparing it.
Every fall, the apple trees in my family’s backyard produce lots of fruit. Every year we need to pick up the rotten apples off of the ground, which is disgusting because they are often times infested and smell like apple cider vinegar. We get as many ripe apples of of the tree. We often time have to drag around six big paper bags full of apples down to the kitchen.
Now we have another problem, we have to use this fruit before it goes rotten. By now, my shoes are stained with apple, my hands are cut from branches, and I smell sort of like an old gym towel. But our work is not over, we still need to peel, cut and core the apples. By the end of this, my hands are sore and sticky with apple juice and I want a shower and a nap.
My mom quickly washes her hands and dumps a couple bags of peeled and cored apples into a dutch oven, adds cinnamon, brown sugar, and some other spices, and sets it on the stove to cook into mush. I take a shower, washing dirt and sucrose off of me, and get into some fresh clothes. In about an hour, it’s done. If we have it, we get out pumpkin bread and take the fresh apple butter and smear it on the bread.
All the hard work of the day pays off, and it was all worth it. So in a way, apple butter is the reward of all that hard work. It’s payment for taking care of the apple trees.
It would be hard to condense a season into a food, but apple butter maybe humanity best attempt at getting fall into a jar.
By RACHEL LARSON