The Shawquon Ruritan has served Stephens City and the south county area since 1956. Our members are dedicated to assessing the needs of the local community and providing volunteer services to make our neighborhoods a better place to live, work and prosper.
The club continues a history of providing college scholarships to local high school seniors. The club also supports fire and rescue and sheriff departments, cub scouts and boy’s scouts, youth organizations, Area 13 Special Olympics, Newtown Heritage Festival, victims of severe illness, homeless shelters and food pantries.
Traditional apple butter making
Marshall and Pam Shiley have been members of the Shawquon Ruritan Club in Stephens City since 2006. Marshall is a diesel mechanic who founded his own company, MS Heating and Air Conditioning, in 1986. He first learned traditional apple butter making at the family farm on Cedar Creek Grade in Frederick County. He and Pam had previously coordinated apple butter making at Refuge United Methodist Church in Stephens City and White Post United Methodist Church in Clarke County.
The selling of apple butter has become a major fundraiser for the club and Marshall has been making Shawquon Apple Butter for the last 12 years. Marshall uses golden delicious apples from the Loretta McDonald farm. Loretta is an active member of the Ruritan and donates the apples in support of the club’s annual fundraising effort. The apples are usually picked in late August just in time to be used for the annual Shawquon apple butter production during the first week of September.
Marshall informed me that Loretta delivers 42 bushels of golden delicious apples which are used to cook three 50 gallon kettles of apple butter. This year Loretta will have the apples picked and placed in three 14-bushel wooden bins about a day before apple butter production begins. The bins are loaded onto a trailer and driven to the Shiley residence.
Each 50-gallon kettle should produce 45 gallons of apple butter. Each kettle requires 14 bushels of apples which, after peeling and core removal, are trimmed down to nine bushels of snits. The cooking of 27 bushels of snits will take approximately 12 hours per kettle and eventually produce approximately 1,000 pint jars of Shawquon Apple Butter.
The antique apple peeler used in current production is a 1930 F. B. Pease, manufactured in Rochester, New York. Apples are manually placed in cups on the machine and the core is mechanically removed along with all seeds, skin and stems, leaving only the apple pulp which will become apple butter. Over the course of two days, 4,200 apples will be peeled, cored and segmented by the apple peeling machine.
Before making apple butter, Marshall adds lemon juice to the bucket of water that the apples fall into after peeling to keep the apples from turning dark. The lighter the apples the easier for the Ruritan chefs to quarter and slice. Ruritan members work to remove any residual core, seeds or skin from the apple pulp over a two day period. The working of the apples is referred to as a “schnitzen party” (slicing and dicing up the 27 snits of apples). The apple pulp is stored in a cool place until ready to cook.
Marshall always sets the kettle up the night before and makes sure it is on level ground. He butters the sides and bottom of the kettle and stirrers and throws the remaining butter (two sticks) in the kettle. Marshall does this the night before because it saves precious time and it is dark and visibility is poor in early morning. He covers the kettle with a tarp to prevent insects and any dust or debris from getting inside.
The apple butter production begins between 4 am and 5 am. The kettle is made of copper with a rounded bottom and no seams. It sits on legs about one foot above the ground, leaving enough room to fit a gas burner. Marshall prefers using gas versus firewood because if it rains, the kettle can be moved indoors. Marshall modified a 50-gallon copper kettle top to include a 1950’s era McCulloch two-man chainsaw motor-driven post hole digger transmission, which now has an electric motor installed instead of the old chainsaw. The electric motor drives, via belts, the transmission that turns kettle-conforming wooden paddles, thereby stirring the apple butter. The electric stirrer eliminates the need for volunteers to stir and stir and stir for hours, providing increased consistency.
Marshall created two home-made, specially-designed wooden stirrers with an oblong hole on the bottom to help keep the sugar and apple pulp circulating within the kettle. This blade-like utensil must be rounded to fit the bottom of the kettle and prevent burning. The foot of the stirrer must be as long as the kettle is deep to continuously scrape off pulp from the kettle’s sides.
He adds one gallon of fresh apple cider while Ruritan members drop apples from wooden crates until the 50-gallon kettle is full. From the beginning the gas fire keeps the heat even and constant. Ruritan members fill the kettle with raw apples and finish no later than 3 hours after startup. Apples cannot be added to the kettle afterwards, allowing all apples to be cooked equally.
The pulp is at boiling temperature until it reaches the right level of thickness. Marshall cooks for approximately three or more hours before adding sugar. This process will “cook down” the apples to remove much of the water contained in the apples.
After six and one half hours, when a little volcano bubble emerges, Marshall puts a tablespoon of cooked apples on a cold saucer, tilts it and visually determines if the water runs fast from the apples. If it does, the apple butter is not thick enough. It has to stop “weeping,” meaning that water should not separate from the pulp. This is called a water test. Marshall usually runs five to six tests per kettle.
When the water is determined to have been cooked out, Ruritan members under Marshall’s supervision gradually add sugar to each 50 gallon kettle. A medium size sauce pan and handle is used to gently shake the sugar into the kettle, so no clumping occurs. After around three hours of continuously adding sugar, the various tasters agree the apple pulp is sweetened to the right taste.
After the last of the sugar is added, Marshall cooks for at least two or more hours, then checks for consistency. As the kettle content gurgles and spurts, the pulp slowly turns a russet brown color. The sugar caramelizes, darkening the apple butter’s color.
Marshall says apple butter making is a taste-as-you-go process. When he and the tasters are satisfied with color and sweetness, he begins to add spice (only cinnamon) but just after he cuts off the gas heat. Marshall uses artificial oil of cinnamon because the real stuff is very expensive ($65 an ounce). Marshall procures the oil of cinnamon in 4 oz. bottles. The cinnamon is added to taste. “If it does not burn your tongue today, it won’t be right tomorrow,” Marshall said. Ruritan members now begin to continuously stir, using a special home-made six foot long paddle-like stirrer to ensure the cinnamon is absorbed throughout the apple butter. Marshall made the handle from hickory, however he crafted the paddle from walnut because it is a close-grained hardwood that does not bleed wood flavor into the apple butter. To keep the apple pulp constantly rotating, Marshall recommends this cadence for the stirrer on duty: “Twice around left and back through the middle, twice around right and back through the middle.” Marshall and his discriminating tasters sample again and again, adding more cinnamon as necessary, stirring continuously. The cinnamon adding stage takes less than one half hour.
Marshall knows when it is done by judging the apple pulp thickness and russet color. It takes years of experience to know “doneness” and there is no computer algorithm or kitchen gadget employed to determine doneness. It is all about sweetness, color and consistency.
Now the jarring process begins
The jars, lids and rings have been previously sterilized in commercial dish washers and repacked in their original boxes at the McDonald farm and at the Shiley residence. The commercial machines can wash 72 jars at one time and it takes 15 washes to deliver 1,080 jars that will be required if each kettle produces 45 gallons of apple butter. While the kettles of apple butter are cooking, the custom labels are positioned on the jars.
Once pronounced done, the apple butter is poured into Marshal’s home-made four-gallon jar filler. The finished apple butter at this point is extremely hot – almost at the boiling point, so experience and extreme caution is a requirement for Ruritans handling the jar filling process. A production line of Ruritan members support Marshall. When Marshall manually fills the pint jar he slides it over to a member who puts the sterilized lid on and then another member applies the ring. One can hear the popping of the lids as the apple butter cools and a vacuum occurs, sealing the jars. The assembly line continues as the jars are then packed 12 to a box and carried to the storage area.
October is National Apple Month and there is no better way to savor the sweet goodness of tasty apple butter throughout the winter months than by keeping several pint jars in the kitchen cupboard. Consider buying a few pints as Thanksgiving or Christmas gifts for friends and family.
How to buy Shawquon Apple Butter
Shawquon Apple Butter can be purchased for $5 a pint bottle or $60 a 12-bottle case. The apple butter can be bought from the following local stores: The Seven-Eleven in Middletown, Stephens City Barbershop, Gore’s Fresh Meats, Split Ends Hair Salon and White Oak Trading Post.
About Shawquon Ruritan
Shawquon Ruritan meet at the Stephens City United Methodist Church at 7:00 PM every third Thursday of each month. Come join us and become a member. We are dedicated to improving communities and building a better America through Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.
Fifth “Conversation of Hope” to be held on Tuesday, October 22
The WHAT MATTERS community meeting space, “Open House: Meet in the Middle” (213 E. Main Street next to the Daily Grind) serves as a meeting place for community members seeking positivity in this time of controversy for our town and county. At 7pm, on the 4th Tuesday of each month, community leaders and citizens gather to engage in one hour of positive reflections and hope. During the first “Conversation of Hope” held at “Open House” in June, the Chief shared a fitting quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Please join us to engage in conversations on Main Street AND virtually through our Facebook Group, “A Virtual Conversation of Hope.”
Here are some of the uplifting words filled with compassion shared during our brief time together during ‘Conversations’:
……Tragedy doesn’t define our community; we have made it through other controversial times, the new police department is an example of the success of a dream 20+ years in the making, don’t feed the beast, negativity breeds negativity, buy local support local, this time shouldn’t change our opinion about what a blessing it is to live here, we must heal relationships with friends and the community because we are hurt and need to acknowledge our pain and rebuild, the term “keep it simple, stupid” can be used to find ways to work together, we must combat darkness with light and stay in the light, we need to be the people we are supposed to be no matter what, we will never stop all the negativity but love will lead us, people who have businesses and work here must be a part of the healing and rebuilding, be a part of the solution, people choose to move here for scenery, values and there are people who stay here for the same reason, this too shall pass, Front Royal is loved for the people, volunteering, service and beauty, shine a light on the great people here and count our blessings, go to prayer and good will prevail, this is a perfect storm for renewal and revival and to come together, a community that doesn’t hide from their faith survives—run to God and add prayer to meetings, lean on God, healing is best when focused on others and for others, be compassionate…….
Police Chief, Kahle Magalis, encouraged us to focus on the wellness of the community, not just the sickness, and suggested that the new hospital progress can remind us to do just that. He also said that he’s very pleased with the working relationship the FR Police Department and the WC Sheriff’s office have in trying to embrace collaboration and cooperation. It was discussed that some of our current issues are bringing things to light that need to be addressed and that dealing with those issues will have a positive impact. In addition, attendees spent much of the time reminiscing about favorite FR/WC memories from the old days of every weekend Skyline Drive traffic & picnics in the park, the Sesquicentennial pageant event in 1986, the Red Stock and Volleys that the hospital hosted, and our hope that another community-wide event could materialize (perhaps a canoe event). It was a heartwarming gathering!
Comments also included positive feedback about the school system, about the giving & caring individuals in our community, a reference to George Jefferson’s “moving on up” (and encouragement to focus on the positive and move forward without delay by sharing concern but finding solutions and moving on), the acknowledgement that we have a strong sense of community that’s full of characters and memories and that we have so much potential and good energy. It was expressed that this is a good time to be forced to confront what we love and value and to picture the past and what’s good about the area. One guest said, “let it go if you can’t do anything about it.”
“This too shall pass” is often uttered as well as the fact that our community has so much to offer as a busy, active and unique area (full of outdoor assets and beauty) where people care about each other and don’t let tragedy define us. Niki Foster of the FR/WC Chamber of Commerce encouraged everyone to share the wonderful things we see and be louder than the ugly noise. Representatives of area clergy have been in attendance and said they want to support and serve, especially in these times we are facing. Someone said we are passed the ugly and are on the verge of being beautiful again.
Please join us on the 4th Tuesday at 7pm, at 213 E. Main Street – OPEN HOUSE, to share and witness more encouraging conversations.
Next Conversation: Tuesday, 10/22/19 at 7pm
*Please note that these gatherings are ones of positivity, not negativity. Politics and current events will not be discussed—instead we will remind ourselves why we love our community and provide an opportunity to briefly join together those who care together in the spirit of hope…
About WHAT MATTERS:
WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth Medved Waller’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved with her local or international nonprofit work, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.
The SPCA Thrift Shop is seeking volunteers
The SPCA Thrift Shop needs volunteers for a variety of tasks. The Thrift Shop is the shelter’s biggest financial contributor and vital to our ability to save the lives of homeless animals in our community. The shop relies on a strong volunteer force to make this happen.
Please consider attending a Thrift Shop Volunteer Orientation on Wednesday, October 30th, from 4-6 p.m. The event will be held at the Thrift Shop, 1944 Abrams Creek, in Winchester, Virginia.
Children’s activities at Samuels Public Library for the month of November
These are the events taking place in the Youth Services Department of Samuels Public Library during the month of October. Thank you for sharing this information. More information about Samuels Library and the programs and services available can be found at www.samuelslibrary.net or by calling (540) 635-3153.
Saturday, November 2
- 10:00 Books and Barks. Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog. For beginning readers and up. Choose a time slot at registration, which begins October 2.
- 2:00 Discuss This. Are you inspired by good books, articles, movies, and art? Do you write, draw, or enjoy playing music? If so, join us as we discuss books and share our creations. This is a group for those who wish to talk seriously about a variety of topics. Refreshments will be provided. For ages 12 and up. Registration begins October 2.
Tuesday, November 5
- 11:00 Time for Baby. What do books, scarves, puppets, music and babies have in common? They are all part of Time for Baby. Join us as we use all of our senses to explore the world around us. Thankful will be the theme this month. Meet with your baby up to two years of age. Siblings welcome.
- 4:30 Science Scouts and More. Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will do some taffy pulling and have a chocolate taste test! For ages 6-11. Registration begins October 5.
Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7
- 10:15 Toddler Story time.
- 11:00 Preschool Story time.
It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.
Tuesday, November 12
- 4:30 Science Scouts and More. Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will investigate probability and chance, and find out how likely it is for someone to find a golden ticket. For ages 6-11. Registration begins October 12.
Wednesday, November 13 and Thursday, November 14
- 10:15 Toddler Story time.
- 11:00 Preschool Story time.
Our stories, songs, and craft will be about Music Art, featuring Karen Erickson of the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet. Siblings welcome.
Friday, November 15
- 5:00 Entries for the 41st annual Holiday Writing Contest are due at the library.
Saturday, November 16
- 11:00 Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgiving Feast. Kids will get to feast on several classic Thanksgiving Day foods to get them ready for the holidays! They will also get to make a dish themselves. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins October 16.
Tuesday, November 19
- 4:30 Science Scouts and More. Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will build a candyscape, like the factory with the chocolate river. For ages 6-11. Registration begins October 19.
Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, November 21
- 10:15 Toddler Story time.
- 11:00 Preschool Story time.
Thankful will be the theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week. Come join us! Siblings welcome.
Saturday, November 23
- 2:30 The Princess & the “P___.” Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a much better place without that prince. He doesn’t even know that it takes a pea to know a princess. And she’s a true princess, whether he’s a true prince—or not. Or is she? The whole family is invited to join us for this hilarious episode of fantastical suspense and find out!
Saturday, November 30
- 2:00 Chess and More. Meet other kids and teens who enjoy the challenge of a good chess or other board game. For ages 6 and up. Registration begins October 30.
Warren County’s DECA club members set up as food vendors for community and school events
Two DECA members, Makayla Grant and Devin Modesitt, have created a school-based food enterprise called DECA Tailgaters. DECA is a club where students create projects incorporating marketing, finance, management and/or hospitality. These projects are then presented in front of judges at statewide competitions.
DECA Tailgaters find volunteers to work community food vendor events, selling a wide range of foods. The vendors sell BBQ sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken tenders and a new popular favorite, walking tacos. BBQ sandwiches and walking tacos feature Richard Gardner’s signature Carolina Dreamin’ homemade items, such as sweet BBQ, spicy garlic sauce and homemade chilly.
The two girls have set up food vendors at three car shows, including the “Trunk or Treating” that took place on Main Street, the SMS PTSO Fun Run Fall Festival and the annual Festival of Leaves. At the Festival of Leaves, the girls partnered their project with Karenzo Hogue, Ethan Baldwin and Michael Kelly, to run a bigger and very successful food vendor.
DECA Tailgaters not only sets up as a food vendor in the community, but they’ve also managed a few of their school’s concession stands to raise money for their club. The girls were given available dates for game concessions, and they found volunteers in DECA to help work the game food concessions. Makayla and Devin said, “We like being hands-on in our project by preparing food and taking customers’ orders, because we enjoy getting to see everything finally come together.”
Makayla and Devin also said, “all the profits earned go towards helping pay for our DECA chapter’s annual State Conference, held in Virginia Beach.” The two hope to possibly continue DECA Tailgaters next year, and have more game concessions coming up, including a rival volleyball game vs. Skyline on October 30th and a JV game vs. Skyline on November 7th.
Rotary Group Study Exchange application deadline extended
We need team member applications for Rotary’s Group Study Exchange! Rotary District 7570 is a collection of 84 Rotary clubs in western Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee, from as far north as Front Royal to as far south as Greeneville.
We are seeking four young working professionals who live or work in our district to join Rotary’s Group Study Exchange team to Rotary District 2430 (Turkey, Azerbaijan) for travel May 1-30, 2020. The team will be led by experienced Rotarian Dr. Neil Hollyfield. The GSE team will spend the month of May exploring your vocational interests and participating in cultural activities. All transportation, meals, and lodging are underwritten by Rotarians.
The deadline for applications is extended to October 30, 2019. Interviews are November 3, 2019, at Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center. Contact District Chair, Karel Ryan, for more information by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 276.971.3995.
Apply online and read more at www.Rotary7570.org/GSE2, or see this related story with detailed information:
WCHS DECA Initiation and Installation Ceremonies
Front Royal, VA – Every year, Warren County High School’s DECA chapter holds Initiation and Installation Ceremonies in honor of the new members and officers joining DECA. This year’s ceremonies took place on September 27, 2019, during the school’s activity period. Twenty-three new members were welcomed to the club individually, and all were given membership pins at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Six additional members of DECA were installed as chapter officers, where each was given a specific duty to carry out through the school year. The six officers for this year are: Kylie Burnworth, President; Ethan Baldwin, Vice President of Finance; Patrick Coffron, Vice President of Social Activity; Karenzo Hogue, Vice President of Membership; Halea Hose, Historian/Reporter; and Emily Johnson, Wildcat Corner (school store) Manager.
WCHS DECA is a Career-Technical Student Organization club at Warren County High School that has a goal of teaching students leadership skills in marketing and management and promoting entrepreneurship in the community.