Seniors keep tradition of making apple butter alive

Published 8:52 am Monday, October 19, 2015

For more than 25 years, locals have gathered around a fire to continue the tradition of making cinnamon apple butter at the Elizabethton Senior Center as part of Old Fashioned Days.
The smell of hot, simmering apples and spices had everyone’s mouth watering waiting to sample the secret recipe.
“We’ve perfected it over the years,” said Center Director Kathy Dula. “A lot of people made it growing up and get to come together to socialize and sing and enjoy fellowship together.”
The work starts at 5 a.m. when a group arrives with Jerry Bray to set up the propane stoves and mix the ingredients. After it begins to heat, they prepare breakfast and spend the day together reminiscing.
This was the third and final time they cooked it this year. Some have attended the event every year for nearly three decades while others were coming for the first time, but all held the recipe in high regard.
Juanita Oliver said that she and her sister, Lula Colbaugh, made it as children with their grandma.
Colbaugh said when they began making it at the senior center, they cooked it over a wood fire.
“It was hard to keep the heat just right,” she said. “We had to cut wood and keep it going, but now we have propane which is easier. Times have changed.”
As it cooks, she said it develops a red color, and that after cooking all day till about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, it is finally ready.
“A lot of people take it off too soon,” said Calvin Caldwell, who has taken part in the event for 25 years.
Margaret Woods was attending for the first time and said of the apple butter, “It’s up there with the best, but I guess I’m prejudiced to my mother’s.”
Mary Green, who came for her ninth year, attested, “It’s just as good as it was when I came the first time.”
Despite debate, Oliver made one sure claim, “I honestly know we have the best apple butter around, I’ve tried it from churches and other places and ours is the best.”
The apple butter is available for purchase at the senior center, Ritchie’s Furniture and Northeast Community Credit Union for $10 per quart and $6 per pint.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price Apple butter must be stirred constantly to keep it from burning and to help it redden evenly.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price Apple butter must be stirred constantly to keep it from burning and to help it redden evenly.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox