Local Lifestyle

Apple Butter prep fires up at Greenwood Community Center

by Lisa Schauer Josh Place of Berkeley Springs jars the first batch using his homemade apple butter filler at Greenwood School Community Center. Josh Baker of Berkeley Springs volunteered to stir apple butter on a long shift last Saturday, September 17 at Greenwood School Community Center. Diane Clark of Berkeley Springs stirs a 60-gallon vat of apple butter at the Apple Butter Prep event held at Greenwood School Community Center last weekend. Bradley Michael, president of Greenwood School Community Group, pours the first batch of apple butter into the filler, as volunteers jar pints. Several dozen volunteers with Greenwood School Community Center worked 12-to-16-hour shifts during their second annual Apple Butter Prep event on Winchester Grade Road last weekend. Albert Glascock of ABG Orchards in Highland Ridge donated about 88 bushels of Turley, Ida Red, and Rome apples for the occasion. Organizers expected to produce about 2,400 pints of apple butter in two days. It will be available for sale at the Apple Butter Festival, at Roy’s, and at Greenwood School Community Center. Proceeds will help pay for events and resources available to the public at Greenwood School Community Center on Winchester Grade Road, said the group’s president, Bradley Michael. Those include a fall festival, bible school, little learners’ program, library, cafeteria, playground, and a thrift store boutique. “All are welcome, and volunteers are always needed,” said Michael. Greenwood School Community Group placed second in a statewide apple butter tasting contest judged by a panel of experts in 2020, after their 2019 debut at the last Apple Butter Festival held in Berkeley Springs. “We will be right in the square again this year, making apple butter, and giving the public an opportunity to stir, and learn about the process,” said Michael. Wielding long wooden paddles with handles, the volunteers took turns continuously stirring six large copper kettles of 30 to 60 gallons each, boiling cauldrons of thick mash simmering over smokey wood fires. “Its very labor-intensive,” said Josh Baker of Berkeley Springs, stirring a boiling kettle of apple mash. The volunteers give each other breaks over 12-hour shifts. One said the public stirs for about 30 seconds just to try it at the Apple Butter Festival. The apples were first peeled and cored, in a laborious process called snitting, the day before. The peeled, chopped apples are then mixed with the just right amounts of sugar and spices. The recipe varies with the flavor of the apples each year, said volunteer Dale Heironimous, as he poured sugar into the kettles and offered a taste test from a plastic spoon. Michael, a fourth-generation farmer in south Morgan County, had hauled a cord of seasoned red and white oak for the fires. He said the wood was harvested locally a few years ago to heat the kettles, some of which are family heirlooms of core volunteers like Josh Place of Berkeley Springs. “I enjoy it. My grandparents did it on their farm, and I do it here, so these young’uns will keep it up,” said Place, stirring a kettle his grandma “Goldy” Place bought brand new several decades ago. After about six to eight hours of stirring, the first batch of apple butter was ready for jarring. Volunteers formed an assembling line, quickly processing the finished product into pints. Some called out their favorite ways to eat apple butter as they worked: on toast, on pancakes, with peanut butter, on taters, and as a dip for sweet potato fries.