Remember the good old days? When it was an annual tradition for family and friends to gather together for the autumn apple butter making. The mix of apples and cider was cooked in a big copper kettle over a wood fire, and the contents stirred with a big wooden paddle. The result was tasty, especially on a biscuit with butter, and there were no preservatives, in fact, no one even knew what preservatives were.

At other times during the fall, everything from grapes to elderberries and currents were turned into jams and jellies, again without preservatives or artificial coloring. Can you still find these old time goodies? Yes, you can. They’re waiting at Cooper’s Mill (1-419-562-4215) in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Cooper’s Mill is located on Route 4 against the northern city limits of town, and almost across from Bob Evan’s Restaurant. The large shop began almost accidently when David and Miriam Cooper set up a fruit and vegetable stand in front of their Bucyrus country home in 1969. Since they usually made a kettle of apple butter to share with their friends, the excess was often sold on the fruit stand.

It must have been good because the business grew, added to by home-made jams and jellies. From there it was just a short step to a growing business, but the jams and jellies are still cooked in small batches just as David’s grandmother did them. “That’s how the best flavor and consistency is obtained every time.” said Sharon (Cooper) Sparks who acts as the store manager now.

Today, employees have graduated from one copper kettle each fall to four 50 gallon kettles per day, and from one or two kinds of jelly and jam to 34 flavors. Those flavors range from jars of ordinary bread spreaders like elderberry and grape to more exotic types like strawberry banana, gooseberry, and even corn cob jelly. “It’s a mild, slightly sweet jelly, and is really made from corn cobs.” Sharon said. “Apparently, back in depression times, people made jelly out of whatever they had, and most had corn cobs.”

These innovative people don’t stop with the above offerings. They have several kinds of relish, including Vidalia onion relish, which when mixed with cream cheese, makes a great dip. “It’s really popular” Sharon said. The shop also has a good selection of lunch meat and cheese from the Amish country, and my wife was totally impressed by a huge selection of Ohio State University shirts, calenders, and a host of other OSU offerings. “I never saw such an amazing variety.”

To round out their offerings, the Cooper’s Mill folk have fresh produce in season, lots of home-made fudge, an extensive gift shop, and plenty of free samples for visitors to taste and try. They give tours too, for groups that call ahead and even those that are simple walk-ins, and school groups come in by bus each year to tour the shop and visit the work building to see how apple butter is actually made, this on Monday through Saturday since they’re closed on Sunday. It’s a good place to visit, stock up on good food, and see once again how apple butter and jelly was made in the Olden Days. In short, a tasty trip down memory lane.

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.