| In the days before there were supermarkets and giant grocery stores, people would prepare and can their own food. Some food items were prepared by individual housewives, but other food items required more than one cook. Certain food items that were made by members of more than one family working together were jellies, jams and apple butter.
The making of apple butter required a number of people. Apple butter was made in a large iron kettle which was hung from a support, such as a tripod of timbers, over an open fire. The kettle would be almost filled with water and then apples and sugar were added. The apples were boiled until they were soft, the whole time being constantly stirred with a stirrer such as the ones exhibited in this gallery. The water would eventually be boiled away, and the sugar would make the apple mash turn to a jam-like consistency. The resulting sticky substance was not called apple jelly or jam. It was given the name of apple butter.
This particular apple butter stirrer was used by the Eldon Smith family. It is possible that it dates from the late 1800s.