The fall season is upon us and what better way to taste the sweetness of the apple harvest than with homemade apple butter?! A visit and tour of Cooper’s Mill in Bucyrus will have you craving the deliciousness of homemade apple butter, pumpkin butter, jellies and jams, all made right here in northwest Ohio!
In 1969, David and Miriam Cooper began selling home-grown fruits and vegetables and homemade apple butter on a picnic table alongside the road near Bucyrus. As the business began to grow (the Coopers were selling products throughout the country), Cooper’s Mill moved to a larger facility located within Bucyrus (which is the current production and storefront) in 1989. In 2013, the Cooper’s retired from the business, selling the beloved factory to the McMullen brothers, whom own Crossroads Original Designs (located less than a mile from Cooper’s Mill).
Using the same recipes for over 45 years, Cooper’s Mill produces forty flavors of jams and jellies, several flavors of apple butter, pumpkin butter, relishes and salsa. Although the homemade jams and jellies are delicious, the star of Cooper’s Mill is their apple butter. During my visit, almost every person who walked through the country store’s door requested a jar of apple butter!
Cooked in small batches, with fresh frozen fruit from a Midwestern supplier (many of the fruits are grown right here in Ohio!), visitors can take a short tour of the production line. My guide and the founders’ daughter, Sharon, gave me a tour of the small, but mighty production facility. Sharon explained the production process as I watched the workers make strawberry jam through the glass windows. As the fruits boiled in the copper kettle (Cooper’s Mill only uses copper kettles from Bucyrus Copper Kettle Works, they are the last company in the United States to still hand hammer the copper kettles!), the sweet aroma of strawberries filled the air and I couldn’t wait to sample the numerous jams and jellies after the tour! Although apple butter wasn’t in production during my tour, Sharon explained why Cooper’s Mill apple butter is so sought after. Their apple butter is cooked over a wood fire outside on the screened-in porch, continually stirred with electric motors and takes 4.5 hours to complete one batch! Making for a delicious, natural product without artificial ingredients creating the best flavor and consistency. When something is made right, you can taste the difference!
After the tour, visitors can sample an assortment of delicious Cooper’s Mill products and browse the country store for homemade items such as jams, jellies, salsa, apple butter, pumpkin butter, relishes, in-store made fudge and donuts, apple cider, Amish cheese and meats, fresh produce and many other specialty food items.
I would suggest taking a day-trip to Bucyrus to tour several local businesses and stroll the streets of the quaint northwestern Ohio town. Visitors can tour Crossroads Original Designs to see Crossroads candles poured by hand, tour Bucyrus Copper Kettle Works to see the last facility in the United States hand hammer copper kettles, and watch jams, jellies and apple butter being made at Cooper’s Mill (visit each company’s website to make tour arrangements)! Three great local Ohio businesses producing nationally recognized products!
For more tastey fall treats, Find It Here at Ohio.org.