SHEPHERDSTOWN—For the past 33 years, members of the Shepherdstown Fire Department have been gathering each October to whip up a little apple butter for the community. According to department treasurer Denny Barron, this year put the group over the 100,000 mark on quarts made.
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” Barron said Saturday as he walked among the kettles to stir down the bubbly sweet apple butter.
The annual apple butter takes approximately a week of volunteer hours with many hands making light work of the prep work needed to begin cooking and packing the sauce.
Kettles were set up inside the engine bay early in the week, staffed by dozens of volunteers from both the fire department and various other Jefferson County-based organizations. Jefferson High School sports teams including the football, baseball and softball, sent many volunteers to help stir apple butter and do other jobs as needed. Members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority also came out, as is their custom each October, to help with the job.
“We started cooking on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Barron said, saying that by the time the traditional Saturday open house arrived, there were already 1,600 quarts completed and ready to sell.
“We will do a total of around 4,200 jars before we are finished,” Barron said.
The apple butter is once again available for $8 a jar this year—seeing no increase in price from previous years’ pricing. Barron said that it is likely an increase will come next year simply due to the increased cost of making the product. Domino Sugar once again donated the sugar this year, which helped keep the cost from rising.
Barron has shared that it is the Domino sugar that gives the apple butter its flavor. The original recipe, which came from Naomi Miller, used Domino and the members of the fire department have stuck with that recipe through the years to ensure the flavor remains a favorite for buyers.
Funds raised from the annual event go into the department’s general fund to help cover operational costs for the volunteer company.
On the final Saturday of October, when the public is invited in to witness the apple-butter making process, they are also encouraged to enjoy breakfast or lunch provided by the fire department members as well as to peruse the wares of many vendors who turn the day into a fall festival within Barron Hall, the social room of the station. Holiday gift ideas, baked goods and collectibles could be found at the tables of many offering their wares, kicking off the start of the holiday shopping season.
Those who wish to purchase quarts of the apple butter may stop in at the fire department. Jars are also available various locations in the community. One may call the station at 304-876-2311 to find out specifically where and when jars can be secured.