THE ART OF GREAT APPLE BUTTER
(A Conversation with Mrs. Odelehr)
The best of anything is always the result
of quality, detail and the passion of one person.
In the case of apple butter,
for which I am admittedly a connoisseur,
that person is Jeanette Odelehr,
from Brussels, Illinois.
The Odelehr family farm is located on an isolated
piece of prime farmland, between Missouri and Illinois,
reachable only by river ferry boat at a junction
of the Mississippi River (north of St. Louis.)
During a recent visit with Mrs. Odelehr,
she passed along a story of how her apple butter
was first started and the secrets of her award winning recipe.
"We were a hard working farm family, growing wheat, corn and soybeans,"
she says, "and about 30 years ago I asked my husband for a new clothes dryer."
"He said no," she adds, "we can't afford it . . . so I decided I needed
some extra income. And my neighbor suggested making apple butter,
and gave me an old copper kettle. So I gathered our fall batch
of apples (tart Jonathans), cored and peeled 'em, and
cooked them down over an outside wood fire."
"It took lots of patience and stirring, and practice" she says proudly,
"but I figured out a simple recipe with sugar and cinnamon.
And after years of learning and keeping things clean and simple,
they told me my apple butter was 'better than most.' I gradually
found some more copper kettles, and put up more butters
in jars, and sold them at our roadside market.
Our fame and reputation has spread over the years,
and now we get traffic from all over at this time of the year."
Mrs. Odelehr now sells her apple and peach butter at area
farmers' markets, and has won awards for her time proven recipe.
"I'm proud of our product and our family name,
and want my children to carry on our old world recipes," she adds.
"I tell my children I'm putting these old copper kettles
in my will, and how each child will get one.
I'm not sure they understand", as she laughs,
"but I sure earned that new clothes dryer."
This is the best apple butter this blogger has ever tasted.