Our Labor Day activity was making apple butter the old fashioned way in my sister's copper kettle. Last year was our first attempt and a learning experience. We had a larger crowd this year and therefore a bigger batch of apple butter. We shorten the process by starting with applesauce instead of raw apples. Rain had moved in overnight and threatened all day so my brother-in-law set the furnace in his implement shed where it would be under roof.
With so many of us taking turns stirring, no one had to stir long at a time. We started at 10 a.m. and the apple butter was pronounced finished approximately 1:45. We dipped it from the kettle to a big dishpan and divided it among us according to how much applesauce each of us had contributed to the kettle. I wound up with 3 qt. of apple butter for my 4 qt. applesauce.
I always made apple butter in the oven. Baking for three hours or slowly simmering in a crockpot will turn applesauce into apple butter just as well as cooking over a wood fire. But the apple butter made this way has a different flavor. The best part of apple butter day is swapping stories and catching up with each other's lives. The memories we make while we stir and ladle the stuff is the secret ingredient that gives old fashioned apple butter its superior taste---and maybe a little of the wood smoke gets stirred into it too.
I still have some apple butter in my freezer from previous years and really didn't need any more but I wouldn't have wanted to miss the day. I can always give it as Christmas gifts. Maybe by next year my older stuff will be used up and I'll be ready for a fresh batch.