The holiday season brings with it the stress of finding the
perfect gift. For most it means crowded parking lots, long lines and
hours at a mall, but Environment Report commentator Julia King
decided to avoid some of the mass production and commercialization
of Christmas this year. Instead, she got back to “Holiday Spirit”
by trying her hand at something a bit closer to home:
The holiday season brings with it the stress of finding the perfect gift. For most
it means crowded
parking lots, long lines and hours at a mall, but Environment Report commentator
decided to avoid some of the mass production and commercialization of Christmas this
Instead, she got back to “Holiday Spirit” by trying her hand at something a bit
closer to home:
Now, I don’t like to brag, but can I just say that I MADE my holiday gifts this
year? Let me tell you
the story of my apple butter.
In the fall, when other people were walking through crunchy leaves and carving
going on hayrides, I was riding my environmentally friendly bike to the local
where I bought many pounds of chemical-free Indiana apples and put them in my
then rode home with hard, yellow delicious apples digging into my spine and under my
blades. I had to do this many times because my family kept eating the apples. Like
of future gifts. So, I had to make a lot of bike rides with a lot of apples sticking
into my back.
Oh well, holiday spirit.
But I finally stockpile all the apples and the cider – oh yeah, the cider: I had to
drive to the
farmers’ market twice in the rain to get fresh, un-pasteurized cider. Okay, so then
everything I need and I boil the cider until it reduces by half – which takes a
couple of hours, then
I peel the apples (which doesn’t take as long but gives me a cramp in my right hand
and makes me
wonder if I’m developing arthritis because I could be, you know; I’m not getting any
Then I dump the apples into the reduced cider and boil and then simmer and then stir
boil and then simmer and then add secret, exotic spices (okay, cinnamon), and then
boil and stir
and simmer for about thirty-nine days, during which time I can’t leave the house
stove is on, and fire safety requires that I stay. Finally, when all the moisture is
gone, it’s time to
put the apple butter into jars and “process” it, which is the worst part because if
you do it wrong
you could kill people. And that’s always especially sad at the holidays.
So, you have to wash and boil the jars, but NOT the lids with the rubber — because
if you do, you
could kill people. You have to keep everything warm, and then you have to pour the
into the clean jars while it’s still boiling and then wipe the rim with a clean
towel so that it seals
right and you don’t kill people.
Then you have to boil it in the closed jars for about fifteen minutes and then when
it comes out it’s
supposed to make a sound as it cools and that should mean it’s safe.
And when it’s all done, you look around the kitchen and see dirty pots and pans and
brown stuff all over your stove and yards of apple peels and there, in the midst of
this chaos, sit
three little four-ounce jars of apple butter.
And then you go to the store the next day and see that it only costs a dollar-fifty!
And you curse
capitalism. And now on top of making your friends and family play Russian roulette
botulism, they have to sit through the story of how you made their apple butter.
Oh well, holiday spirit.
Julia King lives and writes in Goshen, Indiana. She
comes to us by way of the Environment Report.