By Jim Blubaugh
Special to the Rappahannock News
More than 30 Rappahannock Lions Club members put aside whatever else they might have had to do last Thursday (Sept. 30) to make apple butter — just as they’ve done for more than 30 years.
This year, because of the weather, the Rappahannock Co-op allowed them to work inside at the old apple shed, a location that was only fitting.
“It’s been 40 years since the apple shed has been used to process apples. It’s nice to have the Lions, and the apples, here again,” said Coop manager Mike Cannon.
The Lions cleaned, cut and bagged 40 bushels of apples that were sold to them at a discount by Lee Orchards. Last Friday, the apples and the Lions moved en masse to Keezletown, site of the last nonprofit cannery in the state. Larry Grove, who chairs the apple butter effort for the Lions, said that members met at the Link in Sperryville at 4 p.m., drove to Keezletown near Harrisonburg, and spent all day mashing, boiling, stirring and putting the apple butter into jars.
“We use a recipe of cloves, sugar and cinnamon that’s been handed down from Carson Johnson. We usually finish about 8 in the evening. We’re pretty beat up by then. It’s definitely a labor of love.”
The Lions began making apple butter more than 40 years ago, when the late Carson Johnson and the late Paul Nichols started the venture. “It’s a great tradition,” noted R.C. Garcia, current president of the Lions. “It used to be that many Lions Clubs throughout the country made apple butter to raise funds. Now we are one of the last ones.”
The apple butter sales start at the Coop on Saturday (Oct. 9). Proceeds go to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, scholarships, senior programs and other Lions-supported programs in the county.
So stop on by the Coop from 8 to 4 Saturday and buy a little jar of tasty history. The Lions will set up at different locations in the county on subsequent Saturdays.