TIMBERVILLE — Apple butter can be chunky, smooth, spiced or smoky. Folks can spoon it from a jar or slather it on toast. However you choose to consume the traditional treat, know that the country table staple has been produced in valleys and villages since Europeans traveled the seas to call this nation home.
Apple butter is a timeless spread that is said to have migrated to the mid-Atlantic colonies with early German settlers, according to The Washington Post. The sweet fare takes over 20 hours to boil down and plenty of helping hands to prepare.
This weekend, Ryan’s Fruit Market is hosting its 37th annual apple butter boil. Patrick Ryan, the ninth-generation owner of Ryan’s Fruit Market, cooks down cider the day prior so on Saturday neighbors can come ready to lend a hand, stir the pot and buy some apple butter.
“We cook down apples that we peel and core. We add those to it, and I cook those down the day before,” Ryan said. “By the time of the apple butter boil, everything’s ready to roll, so the apple butter doesn’t need to be cooked as long. That way, it comes off earlier in the day and then that way, you know, people can buy it right there on the spot.”
Sometimes, good old-fashioned hard labor can be an excuse to come together and share with neighbors. Quicksburg resident Joel Walkley has participated in past boils and said the event is an opportunity to bond with fellow residents over the stirring of the 50-gallon cauldron.
“It’s like showing up to a friend's house and being able to come and go as you please. That's the best part about it is you know it's happening, so you know you're always welcome. It’s an all-day thing so come as you can, come when you can,” Walkley said.
Ryan’s Fruit Market is also celebrating customer appreciation day, so apart from the apple butter boil, a 30-gallon kettle will be serving up helpings of country ham and white beans alongside cornbread, hot dogs and chips for free.
For entertainment, DJ Sound Solutions is spinning classic rock throughout the day and a big projector screen will show kids movies so the whole family can come and soak in the fall weather.
Fuji, York and Stayman are among the apples available for purchase at the market currently. York apples are on special this week for $14 per bushel.
“We sell apples, apple butter, apple cider. We’ll also be selling candied apples, and we’ll be selling cups of hot apple cider as well,” Ryan said.
Despite the long-running celebration and history behind the market, Ryan’s transition to ownership in 2017 has brought some changes to the business so it can operate year-round. In recent years, Ryan has constructed a high-wind tunnel to extend the growing season and provided farm-to-table contributions to local eateries.
“There's been a lot of work: putting new orchards in and putting greenhouses in and just expanding everything we do and making everything,” Ryan said. “Everything we sell, we produce ourselves and everything we do, we put back into the community. And that's mainly what our focus is.”
Ryan’s Fruit Market is located in Timberville at 18653 N. Mountain Road. Saturday's apple butter boil will start at 10 a.m. and last until 5 p.m.