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Apple Butter Makin' Days Kicks Off for the Weekend

We're going to shift the discussion away from elections, bailouts and plunging stock markets for a moment and talk about something a bit lighter: apple butter, to be precise.

One of Missouri's most popular festivals is going on this weekend on Mt. Vernon's courthouse square. KSMU's Nathan McVay traveled to get a first hand lesson on how to make apple butter from the pros.

Before the sun rose this morning, several volunteers armored with enormous copper kettles and long wooden paddles gathered on the courthouse square in Mt. Vernon.

"Oh the boys, a lot of them get here at five o'clock in the morning, get the pots set up and the fire started and start stirring at about six this morning," says Mt. Vernon resident Bill Stanford.

He's volunteering for his church, and is one of the stirrers of the three, huge pots on the courthouse lawn. The apple butter kettles are regarded as the main attraction of Mt. Vernon's Apple Butter Makin' Days.

Before dawn, raw, peeled apples are emptied into large, copper kettles to start the process.

"An hour ago, I'd say about eleven, eleven-thirty, we added the sugar and cinnamon and red hots, which gives it its kick of flavor," he said.

While he's talking, Stanford stirs the 30 gallons of apple butter continuously with an 8-foot paddle to prevent it from scorching.

"We'll be done ready to can at 2 o'clock, and it will take awhile to do the canning,'' he said.

All of the proceeds from the canned apple butter go to the organizations which volunteer their time.

Apple Butter Makin' Days may best be known for the finished product - apple butter - but Stanford says everyone who attends comments on the smell.

"You know I just love standing here and smelling it...the cinnamon and the red hot in that apple butter, there is really no smell like it exactly. Kinda makes you pretty hungry. Makes you want to get a piece of toast and put some apple butter on it," he said.

This is Stanford's thirteenth year stirring apple butter and he says he's already looking forward to next year.

"I'm almost 70, and I will do it for another 70 if the good lord let me."

Apple Butter Makin' days will run thru Sunday at the Mt. Vernon courthouse square. For KSMU news, I'm Nathan McVay.


  • How To Make Apple Butter
  • Official Apple Butter Makin' Days Website