Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Virginia is for Apple Lovers!

You may know Virginia is known for its peanuts but we are also known for our apples. The Virginia Marketplace has a variety of apple products like apple butter, apple grilling glaze and Sparkling Apple Cider. This blog will be about apples and apple butter. There will be more about grilling glaze and cider in another blog.

There are many apple festivals in Virginia in October. Carter Mountain’s Apple Harvest Festival is October 3 and 4 and October 10 and 11. Join Carter’s Mountain for music, crafts, food, hayrides, apple butter, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie, and all things apple! Graves Mountain’s Apple Festival is October 10-11 and October 17-18. Enjoy fun filled days complete with good food and entertainment including bluegrass music, cloggers, arts and crafts, hayrides and horseback rides. Experience the days of yesteryear watching apple butter being cooked in kettles over an open fire. Orchards are open for apple picking or you may select your own from the apple bins. You can get Graves Mountain’s delicious preserves, apple butter and green pepper jelly at The Virginia Marketplace. Don’t miss trying their incredibly creamy and perfectly spiced apple butter. We enjoy using Graves Mountain apple butter on pancakes and French toast. Their Orange Marmalade with pieces of oranges and lemons tastes like “sunshine in a jar” on a croissant.

History of Apple Butter -Apple butter was a popular way of using apples in colonial America and well into the 19th century. Making apple butter was a family event and prepared in large kettles. Family members took turns using paddles to stir the apple butter while it cooked. Apple Butter is created by slow-cooking apples until the sugar caramelizes and the apples take on the consistenc of butter. There is no dairy or butter involved in the product; the term “butter” refers nly to the thick, soft consistency, and apple butter’s use as a spread for breads. Typically seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other spices, apple butter may be spread on buttered toast, used as a side dish, an ingredient in baked goods, or as a condiment.

Here is an interesting story about apple butter that I found. Traditionally, the preparation of apple butter was a weekend long community event. It all started early in the morning when the men would harvest several bushels of apples. The boys would gather firewood to heat copper kettles. The mothers peeled and sliced the apples. They used knives not peelers. The mothers were secretly checking out the letters made by the peels to see who they should have actually married. Then the cut apples were thrown into the heated copper kettles while the girls took turns stirring with large wooden paddles and gossiping. It was important that the apples be stirred constantly or else they would burn and the whole town would take the girl in charge and put her in a stock and throw cream pies at her face. The women would then spice the mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Since making the apple butter required the apples to be stewed all day, the aroma filled the town air with sweet incense comforting the souls. When the sky was overcome by the colors of the setting sun, the apple butter was done and all the men got off their hammocks to come down to the copper pot for the first taste. In October, many “historic” towns around the U.S. have apple butter festivals where they roll out the copper kettles and throw a party. Come to Carter’s Mountain or Graves Mountain Apple Harvest festivals to enjoy one of these apple festivals.

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