Appalachia Appalachian Food

A Blast From The Past – Porkchops And Applesauce

I woke up this morning with Porkchops and Applesauce on my mind-actually my thoughts led me to think about Porkchops and Applesauce.

Sometimes as I’m writing a post for the Blind Pig I wonder if I wrote something on the exact same date the first year I started this blog. I didn’t post as often that first year and I still felt very nervous posting at all. As I looked back through my archives to see if I did indeed post something on November 27, 2008, I had another thought on my mind-my nephew, Guitar Man.

Guitar Man is in his second year of college at Yale University. He didn’t get to come home this Thanksgiving-so its the first Thanksgiving he hasn’t been around Pap and Granny’s since he was born. We’re all so proud of him-but we’ve missed him sorely this Thanksgiving.

Once I found the posts for Nov 08 I discoverd I did not write anything on the 27 of Nov-but I did write something one day later on the 28th-and wouldn’t you know it-Guitar Man was the star of the post.

Hope you enjoy this blast from the past archives of the Blind Pig & The Acorn.


Porkchops and Applesauce In The Mountains

slaughtering hogs in appalachia


Pork was a primary source of meat for folks in Appalachia up until the 1950s-60s. Most every family had 2 or 3 hogs and usually in late November or early December when the weather had turned off cold the hogs were readied for slaughter.

old mountain fence

Pap’s father, Wade, was known as a “good hog butcher” around our area. He was called to various homes and farms throughout the hog killing season. For his services some folks paid him in money, most paid by giving him part of the meat, and some who couldn’t afford too-didn’t pay him at all.

Pigs in Appalachia

Pap shared some of his hog slaughtering memories with me:

  • They waited until the temperature was under 40 degrees for 4 or 5 days. He said it was o.k. if it warmed up some during the day-but the nights needed to be cold.
  • Usually the hogs were penned up in a small pen and fed only corn and water for about 2 weeks before they were slaughtered. This ensured the lard and meat would have a good taste.
  • They tried to go by the signs-but sometimes you had to slaughter when you could- Pap said it did make for better meat and lard if you were able to follow the signs.
  • They had a barrel buried in the ground at a 45 degree angle-boiling water was poured into it and then the whole hog lowered into the water. This helped make the hair easier to scrape off.
  • Pap’s family salt cured and sugar cured most all of their pork-placing it in a smokehouse hanging on a wire (keeping it on a wire kept the mice off it-eek!). They canned the backbones, ribs, and the sausage they made. They also used the ears, tongue, and parts of the head to make Souse Meat-a ground up meat mixture. Pap said the souse meat was eaten up pretty quickly-in about a week or so.
  • Typically the women begin rendering the lard as the men were still butchering.

I’ve never been involved in a hog slaughtering. However, one of my favorite meals is pork chops, biscuits, and applesauce all washed down with sweet tea.

I can barely believe it myself-but David Grier has a song called Pork chops and Applesauce. Guitar Man plays it for this weeks Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot.

I hope you enjoyed the song-and the blast from the past.



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  • Reply
    December 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Wow,Yale, congratulations to Guitar-man. I am sure the whole family is very proud. What is he studying?
    Your hog slaughter tale reminds me of the old way in Spain. It was a big thing to slaughter the pigs, and as you mention too… nothing is wasted, every part is good for eating or seasoning other dishes.
    Loved it.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Pork chops and applesause, one of my favorites! I remember dad killing hogs and it was always very cold. I remember it being very labor intensive as well. One time my brother and I played with one of the eyeballs for a long time scaring the girls with it! It seems like just about all of the hog was used for something and dad told me the only thing you threw away was the squeal!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I really enjoyed the guitar playing while I was reading.
    I didn’t grow up with hogs, my Dad didn’t like to eat pork – he hunted though so we had moose meat when I was growing up.
    Pork chops and fried apple slices is what I’ve always cooked, love the apple and pork together but don’t know that I’ve ever had applesauce with it.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Yep, I remember those days. Our hog butchering ways were different, too graphic to share here I believe, but those fresh fried pork chops with the skin still on them and crispy from the skillet were like heaven on a plate. And yeah, we often had pork chops with applesauce, or baked or fried apple slices with a bit of cinnamon.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Sorry, whenever I hear ‘pork chops and applesauce,’ I think of The Brady Bunch.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    No one answered…so I will throw my two cents in…I always heard from an older NC relative that you eat applesauce with pork to keep the pork from making you sick…!!
    Still can’t think of that Bogart movie!…LOL
    Loved this post…but don’t think I could do the hog killing thing nowdays but would love to have a good farm raised one to take to the butcher…
    Thanks again Tipper,

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    My mother always served applesauce with pork chops. Somehow the applesauce gradually got left off. I’m gonna get me a jar to have with my next pork chop dinner.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Interesting! I have always served applesauce with any kind of pork. However, I loved serving during the holidays, a stuffed fresh ham. When I first moved to FL and asked them to debone a fresh ham, the butcher just looked at me – like I was from another planet. Gosh! You made me remember a yummy combination.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I am amazed at the amount of talent in the Bling Pig gang! Guitar Man is very talented, as you all are. Is he pursuing Music at Yale? I’m sure whatever he is studying he is doing very well. You have every right to feel proud of him!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    We would always buy three pigs each year and Grandpa let me pick out “my” pig. I fed it special food and would visit and talk with it throughout the summer.
    Now, some folks would be bothered, knowing that “their” pig was going to be slaughter, but I also knew that the ham & sausage that I loved SO much had to come from somewhere. I know those pigs led a good life while they were on earth, so it never bothered me when slaughtering time rolled around.
    As a child, I was never allowed to attend the actual slaughtering.
    I’m not sure if I could have such an understanding attitude now that I am an adult. I have gotten soft and “citified.”

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    No wonder they call him The Guitar Man! And another thing, you don’t get a scholarship to Yale unless you’ve got alot of smarts. I know you all are so proud of him.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    November 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    We raised and butchered two pigs every year for the first fifteen-some years we were here. Then it got to where you couldn’t count on that freezing weather before Christmas and we quit raising pigs. Now that we have milk cows again and the abundance of buttermilk, we are tempted to try pigs again. Nothing like homegrown pork!

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    November 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    My uncle raised hogs. When they were penned up for fattening they were a pretty cranky bunch and scared me to death.
    We went out to the farm to help him when it was time to ship the hogs out for processing. He had us kids lure the hogs into the truck, then we would clamber up the sides of the wood plank truck to safety. Now days that would be considered child abuse, but we thought it was fun. We were young and dumb.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    November 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    35 years ago, when we first moved to western NC, we were involved in slaughtering/butchering a neighbors hog. This was a first for me and I was amazed, but my gosh, what a process. We helped several times after that, and it’s a time I’ll never forget. By the time we had our own farm, years later, and raised hogs they simply went to the local butcher shop.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Tipper—You’ve touched a culinary nerve and my salivary glands have kicked into involuntary overdrive. I absolutely reveled in hog-killing time when I was a boy. It was hard work, smelly, bloody, and a general mess—but oh the rewards! The most immediate one would be fresh fried tenderloin, and applesauce from our own trees made one of the perfect accompaniments. Others included mustard greens fixed with plenty of streaked meat and a fine pone of cornbread. Sometimes Mom would make the cornbread with the newly skimmed cracklin’s, and in those days we didn’t worry about things such as cholesterol or “heart healthy.” Talk about a country boy’s feast—that was it.
    Strange as it may seem, I’d love to be an integral part of a hog-killin’ day one more time. I’ve butchered wild boars over the years, but that’s not the same as scalding, scraping, rendering the lard, setting inferior parts and scraps aside for sausage, washing and cleaning the organ meats for scrapple or liver mush, and everybody in the family pitching in to help.
    Today we all too often don’t make the proper connection to the land and the origins of meat from field (or hog pen) to table the way we once did, and I think that’s a shame.
    Now that I’ve rambled and reminisced, I think I’ll go pick a mess of greens, fry some streaked meat, pour the grease and leavin’s into a pot with the greens, and get it going for supper.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Tipper, I think of Guitar Man every now and again. What a brave young man to go from Brasstown NC to Yale. It’s just more than I can process. He earned the full scholarship then went so far from home alone to get his higher education. It’s just amazing. Every time I think of him I send him good thoughts.
    I had the opportunity to help with Hog Killing a few times when the Deer Hunter was young. His father’s family always had hogs. I found the whole process fascinating and was grateful for the opportunity to learn from folks who really know how it’s done.
    They canned the sausage and I was surprised how simple it was and how good. It was the best sausage I ever had. Canned sausage is much better than frozen.
    I wish you and the Deer Hunter would get a pig. I’d love to come help with the processing again.
    Yes, applesauce and pork chops is mighty fine but then you like applesauce with almost anything. LOL

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    We used to slaughter several hogs each year starting with the first cold snap in November. Saturday was slaughtering day and I can remember scraping and dressing out up to three hogs every Saturday until we had the Smoke House full of sugar cured hams, shoulders and middlins hanging with a smouldering hickory fire we kept going for days. The hams were sold, many to the old Nantahala Village then we ate off the shoulders and middlins. I can remember rendering lard, my job was to run the cracklins through the collander, I would wind up with jars of crisp warm cracklins which Mom would can. Many of the fresh cracklins found themselves salted and eaten as I was straining the lard off. I would usually eat so many I would wind up sick but I still love cracklins. I always thought that Pork Chops had to be accompanied with Applesauce just like Backbone and Ribs required baked Sweet Taters. This might not be required by law but it might as well be for this is still standard table fare at my house. Four heart attacks has forced me to slow down my consumption of these great foods but it hasn’t stopped me completely since like I tell my Bride “Why worry about living if you’re miserable doing it”? I refuse to be one of the types who tip toe through life to arrive safely at death. This doesn’t make me real popular with her sometimes but “bless her heart” she still lets me hang out with her. It amazes me how much better I married than she did. Thanks for the memories Tipper, they are great now even though at the time we were actually making them wasn’t that pleasant as it was a lot of hard work.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    November 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    It’s in stories and posts like these that I most appreciate the shared heritage of those who grew up in the mountains, as I did, albeit on the other side from N.C.
    Circa 1955-1965. Picture: Mom, the second from youngest of 10 children (two died early on). She was born in Knoxville (thereby, a “city girl”), whereas her older siblings came from Union County, TN, which then now truly is the “back of beyond”.
    Suffice to say, they did everything and then some to keep the family sheltered, fed and clothed.
    Flash forward to the mid-50s/60s (my early childhood).
    Although we were better off than her kin (in material ways, I guess), we weren’t rich, or even middle-middle class, not with four boys, a fifth boy (my father), my mother, a live-in aunt, various and sundry cousins, etc.
    So, to make ends meet, among the things my mother (the queen) did was go to one of her country uncles, buy a young cow and pig, pay for its feed, let nature take its course over the summer, then go back to the farm. Yes, we had a large back porch freezer; yes, the uncle did the slaughtering (in late October if memory serves); yes, we ate everything, including the brains (or at least my Paw-Paw did – I was the only one who tried it and found it too greasy). And, yes, it was good.
    Years later, when living in Manhattan, I took a client to a fancy restaurant that offered pig brains in some kind of butter sauce. To the client’s amazement, I ate every bite (still too greasy) and with each fork-full, thought of home.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I’m can’t leave this page without commenting about Guitar Man. I see the family talent has been inherited… How sad that he couldn’t be with the family for Thanksgiving. I know you all must be so proud of him.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I remember how I dreaded hog killing time. What a job it was! Someone always helped Dad, but so much had to be done to preserve the meat. I had such a different taste than pork we now buy from the store. I don’t think we ever had applesauce with ours. I never tasted tea until I was at least in my 20s. I don’t remember anyone in my home town drinking it. Maybe they couldn’t afford it and coffee too. I’m making up for the loss now. LOL!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Hope u and your family had a nice Tgiving. It’s always sad when a member of the family can’t be there. Your post today sure brought back memories of hog killing and how good the fresh meat tasted along with home made biscuits,gravy and fried tators.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    November 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Porkchops and apple sauce, I just got hungry. That was one of the main meals I grew on as well. Beside cows pigs were one of the main animals we had on our farm.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I enjoy reading them all very much and look forward to them each morning much better then news papers.
    You all say things the way they are and true Thank you please keep them coming Sister.
    WinterHawk Cote

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

    we ate lots of pork, it was cheap and good. mother cooked with fat back and bacon grease in almost every dish. i do the same thing and look back at my post once in a while and when i do, i think OUCH i posted that??? some of them are really pitiful.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

    and Guitar man…great job…
    Dad hated hog killin’ time! He said the smell always got to him..
    They did all of the above, canned, cured and et’….LOL
    Now then, which old movie, (I think it was black and white 1939-40’s) did Humphrey Bogart say…”Pork chopsss and Apple shausee? Most of you aren’t as old as I am I guess…and why do most of you follow pork with applesauce?
    Thanks Tipper, great post as usual!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 10:50 am

    A man I worked with told me that his great-grandmother had died from the cold out on the bleak moorlands of Northumberland, up near the Scottish border, This woman’s occupation – midwife and pig-slaughterer. She travelled about from isolated farmstead to isolated farmstead to wherever her varied services were required. She ought to be worth a tune of her own, possibly a lament on the Northumbrian pipes. Nice tune, Guitar Man.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    November 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I remember slopping the hogs with my dad. He had a pen built up on the hill,kept them there to fatten them up. I remember the slaughtering too. I didnt’ seem much of that but I do remember the table being full of meat, mom making a pan of biscuits and frying up fresh tenderloin. Yum! it was so good. She made souse meat (or head cheese I’ve heard it called). She also rendered the lard. I remember a bowl of the brains sitting in the refrigerator for awhile, mom trying to get up the nerve to fry them in eggs for my dad. Dont’ remember if she ever did. I remember one year they cured them meat, think it was sugar cured. I love pork, apple sauce and fried taters!! and gravy and biscuits to go with it!!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    November 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Tipper: Thanks for this blast from the past. It was fun to read along with the music. I hope all is well with you and the family. I need to send you a photo of a buck from the back yard.

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