Rock Camp UMC selling sweet fall treat

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ROCK CAMP — The aroma of burning wood was carried off into the crisp autumn air Monday, along with the sweet smell of apples cooking in a big copper kettle.

Members of Rock Camp United Methodist Church were up bright and early to get the sauce bubbling for their annual apple butter sale.

Lena Clark has been a member of the church since 1953 and said the church has made apple butter for more than 40 years.

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“Slow cooking is our secret,” Clark said.

At about 6:30 a.m., the fire was lit under the kettle and about 60 gallons of applesauce were added to the pot. For the next eight to 10 hours, church members took turns stirring the mixture with a long wooden board, waiting for the water to cook out.

Bill Allen, 42, helped make apple butter with his mother for the church since he was a young child and has stirred the mixture every year. Even though his mother passed away, he still helps, because she cannot.

“I just like being here with all these people,” Allen said, pointing out the steam rising off the sauce, a telltale sign water is leaving the mixture.

Once the water has been cooked out, the sugar is added. Church member Wayne Wise said about one pound of sugar is used for each quart of apple butter. Silver dollars are also added to the mixture to ensure the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the kettle.

In another two to five hours of stirring, Wise said, cinnamon is added — one batch regular strength, and one batch with a kick of extra cinnamon. In the end, the light, yellow apple sauce is transformed into a creamy, rich, dark umber-colored product.

The group of church members expected to work late into the evening, canning the apple butter, cleaning the jars and sealing them for sale.

But it wasn’t just those outside stirring the mixture who were hard at work. Other church members were inside, cooking meals for the group, keeping everyone’s energy up.

Shirley Loevenguth was one of those, up bright and early to make biscuits and gravy for the workers. She said she has gone to the church for more than 40 years and enjoys the fellowship time with her fellow churchgoers.

“It’s a long process, but it’s good,” Loevenguth said of the apple butter.

The cost of the sweet treat is $4 per pint and $8 per quart.

Clark said the church uses the profits to pay for various projects around the church, most recently repairs and renovations from flooding last year, including new carpeting, a piano and renovations to the restrooms.

To place an order for apple butter, call Clark at (740) 237-4326, or Loevenguth at (740) 532-1484.