Keeping Up the Family Traditions

HWJ - Cropped Garden ShotMy 80 year old grandmother, who was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, has been "putting-up" for as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall a single summer where she wasn't freezing green beans and bell peppers, canning tomatoes, or making jar after jar of strawberry jam. The summer I turned 13 she taught me how to make jams and jellies. Sadly, that summer was the last time I would preserve anything for a long time.

Fast forward nearly 20 years later, to a trip I took to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I happened to pick up a jar of apple butter and upon bringing it home and having it on my toast the next morning, I fell head over heels in love. I found all sorts of uses for it as a sauce, as a marinade, and by putting the occasional swirl in plain yogurt for a simple dessert. I even used it to add a little extra something to my fool-proof apple pie recipe.

After a late summer visit with my grandmother where she was making her now famous strawberry jam, a light bulb went off–that fall I was going to make apple butter. Once my local orchard opened to the public, my then 2-year-old daughter and I set off to start our own tradition. I dragged her to the orchard where I picked more apples than I knew what to do with. Over the next few weeks, I made batch after batch of apple cinnamon muffins, apple pancakes, apple turnovers, apple pie, applesauce, and finally, apple butter. Pleased with my kitchen full of apple products, I decided that every year going forward my daughter and I would go apple picking and make tons of apple things, especially apple butter. My heart swelled with pride every time my little girl asked for applesauce or apple bread (her name for apple-cinnamon muffins).

Keeping up with our new family tradition, my now four-year-old daughter and I went apple picking last month and have since put-up a small batch of apple butter. Over the past couple of years I’ve tried about three different recipes for apple butter until I found the one that really works for me, the recipe I use now is perfect for my super busy lifestyle. It gives me great pleasure to share it with you fellow canners out there today.


CAA Contributor Heather Jones, a self-described Foodie Princess, is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City (formerly Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School). Heather resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.

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