Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food

Apples in Appalachian Foodways

apple pie

Apples play a huge role in the foodways of Appalachia. Back in the day they showed up in some form for just about every meal of the day not to mention for eating out of hand as snacks in between meals.

Over the years I’ve written quite a few posts about apples. Here’s a few of them:

We lost one of our apple trees last year. We planted two to replace it but it’ll be a few years before they start producing. Luckily I’m surrounded by folks who have apple trees and are usually willing to share.

In my latest video I discuss the importance of apples in Appalachian Foodways, show how to make a dandy apple pie and tell some stories along the way.

I hope you enjoyed the video! What’s your favorite way to eat apples: raw, stewed, fried, apple butter, apple jelly, dried, apple pie or some other way?

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  • Reply
    Douglas Mosier
    October 2, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    I’m surely gonna try this pie with both apples and blueberries. I may try it with pears, too.

    Oh, how I wish I’d had the presence of mind when I was younger to ask my grandparents to tell stories of their lives and growing up! My dad’s parents passed in ’73 and mom’s dad in ’82 and then grandma in ’93. Add to them the aunts and uncles on dad’s side that have gone on. I miss them all fiercely!

  • Reply
    Nancy Stamey Eubanks
    August 17, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Hi Tipper! Thank you for helping to keep the precious Appalachian ways alive! I wonder if you have a recipe for apple stack cake? It was always my birthday cake when I was younger and has such strong ties to my Appalachian heritage. I have seen other recipes, but would love to see yours! Thank you, in advance!

  • Reply
    john misiag
    March 1, 2021 at 7:46 am

    I remember my aunt Mon made apple butter in a cast-iron kettle over an open fire. Marion Va. hollow. The best ever, still have the taste in my memory.

  • Reply
    Judy Hays
    February 13, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Hello, I’m a new subscriber to the Blind Pig and the Acorn and also your YouTube channel, Celebrating Appalachia. I’m so happy I found you! Tonight I made Mary Jo’s Apple Pie and it was everything you said it was – easy to make and delicious. Mary Jo’s Apple Pie will now have a permanent place in my recipe notebook and it will always be known as “Mary Jo’s Apple Pie”. I so much enjoy your stories and have watched many of the videos of your Pap and Paul singing. What beautiful harmony. Thank you for making all of this available.

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    February 12, 2021 at 10:31 pm

    My precious Appalachian Mama used to can fruit. As a little girl I would be glad when Mama would open a jar of fruit (apples), warm it on the stove, add a dollop of butter, and I’d eat it with sausage and a biscuit for breakfast. It was always some of my favorite foods, it still is! I’m so glad God chose to bless me with good memories and family that knew how to can and cook good rib-sticking foods!

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    February 12, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    Love your stories. When my parents were in their mid seventies I sat down with them one day and asked them to tell me their life story. It took several weeks of talking but I learned a wealth of information about them that I had never heard before,such as my mom working in a sewing plant during world war 2 making uniforms. For the first time my dad told me details of being at pearl harbor when the Japanese bombed it. I wrote all this down to share with my kids and grandkids. They’re passed away now but it feels like I still have them with me because I have their stories.

    • Reply
      February 12, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      Ron-what a treasure you have!

  • Reply
    Glynda P. Chambers
    February 12, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Where can I find the recipe for Aunt Mary Jo’s Apple Pie other than the video. I watched the video but didn’t write it down. Thanks, Glynda

  • Reply
    Dona Silver
    February 12, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    Tipper you have me baking !!!!!!!!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2021 at 3:08 pm

      Dona 🙂 I’m glad!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    I love the way you have been able to hang onto old family stories and recipes. My favorite thing as a child was to trap my parents in the car where they couldn’t escape and ask them a blue million questions. I learned so much about family history in that way. Unfortunately, I never was curious about recipes. In those days many cooks never used a recipe, but just started tossing ingredients in with great results. We tend to follow our parents’ ways a lot, but I have found when baking it is best to be exact.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 12, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Tipper–In regard to Sharon’s question about whether Mayapples are edible, the short answer is “yes,” but there are a bunch of caveats. They shouldn’t be eaten until they turn yellow, the seeds are somewhat toxic and best removed, and the “apples” have a fairly pronounced purgative effect. Or, as my Grandpa Joe would have put it, “they’ll set you free.”

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    February 12, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    That pie looks delicious!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 12, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Tipper–Two key aspects of raising apples you haven’t covered in detail are pruning and spraying. Neither is much fun, and I speak on the basis of personal experience. Interestingly, according to my father, when he was a boy and young man it wasn’t necessary to spray apples. They pruned the trees in the winter each year, but spraying was not necessary. The apples were sound and for the most part insect free.

    On the other hand, I loved picking the apples from our tiny orchard, and plucking a two on the way to school (one for the teacher and one for me) was pure delight. I’d get two more when I walked back home, and when squirrel season rolled around my Duxbak jacket always had a couple stored somewhere just in case I got peckish (which I always did).

    Momma had a goal of putting up 200 quarts of fruit (apples) every year. That meant a lot of peeling, quartering, coring, and processing, but opening a jar come winter, maybe warming it and putting in a pat of butter made it all worthwhile.

    The varied aspects of apple culture are deeply embedded in my consciousness and this presentation brings back a passel of warm memories.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 12, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Tipper, did you have a hand in getting Frank and Allie Lee on Morningsong? Those two are amazing!!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      Ed-I actually did 🙂 Their music is really good!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Always heard, an Apple a day, keeps the doctor away. I recently been eating fried apples with a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. Mmm so good with a biscuit.

  • Reply
    Catherine J. Spence
    February 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

    I never cared much for apples in any form except fresh until I became an adult. Still not a fan of applesauce, but now I love apple butter, baked apples with cinnamon, and apple pie. I can both plain apples in a sugar syrup for baking and apple pie filling every fall. My daughter makes the pies; she’s way better at making the crust than I am!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 12, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Grandma Cora forbade us to pick apples from her June apple tree before the 4th of July. She was okay with us eating the fruit that fell off the tree. There were plenty that fell but the problem was the tree was in the pasture and was the only place the cattle could get in the shade. The cows, of course, would eat them immediately unless they had fallen in a “deposit” left from a previous visit. There was one limb that hung over the fence though. The problem with that though was the tree was up next to the road bank and any apples that fell would roll right back into the pasture.
    That one limb had the best apples on the whole tree and we could reach them from the ground. Can you imagine how tempting it was to just reach up and grab one of those luscious golden orbs when you knew Grandma wasn’t looking?

  • Reply
    Sallie, the apple doll lady
    February 12, 2021 at 10:47 am

    I’m going to try that pie! I can eat apples any way they are prepared or just fresh, that is as long as they are sweet. I can use a tart apple in a pie with lots of sugar. Sometimes I make apple crisp and my favorite treat from the bakery is an apple fritter. Your video reminded me of the apple my folks called a transparent. If I remember right it was small and light greenish yellow when ripe with a transparent-looking thin skin. It made the best applesauce and Mother canned lots of it. Thinking about it now, I can almost taste it. There is nothing that can add a warm loving atmosphere to a house on a cold, damp winter day more than an apple dish baking in the oven! Thanks.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2021 at 10:33 am

    That pie looks delicious so I’m copying it down and will try it out. I loved to eat apples raw, ate them almost every day. Then I started having pain in my stomach and would be walking the floor at night. Finally, they told me my gallbladder needed to come out. No wonder I was having pain. Was a very easy operation and I remember the surgeon saying you can now eat anything you want, a pause, and then he said except raw apples. I was shocked! He said because they have pectin in them but you can eat them cooked.
    I especially enjoyed hearing the stories of your Grandmother Marie. My Mother came from a large family and I’ve heard so many stories as I grew up. They are all gone now and I still think of things I would like to ask but there is no one left to give me answers. It’s also a good idea to write those stories down while they are fresh in your mind.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 12, 2021 at 9:21 am

    My favorite apple is the Red Stayman and second favorite Stayman Winesap. I prefer a tart apple over sweet. I sort of like Yates but the ir taste seems concentrated in the peel and be missing inside. But being small are easy to carry. I like best to eat apples out of hand unpeeled. One reason I like them that way is that they are what I call ‘pocket food’ I can take on a walk in the woods. An apple, some unhulled peanuts or pecans and a pack of snack crackers makes a woods lunch.

    I do love fried apple pies. I don’t insist on dried apples in them. But a doughy, chewy or soggy crust just about ruins them. Guess that’s why they do not need to be kept long (unlikely to happen anyway). Sometimes I get a hankering for plain apple pie. I like lots of spice; cinnamon, clove, brown sugar and nutmeg. In pie though I do not like peels, too big a change in texture.

    I dried 18 quart bags of apples this past sumner from our tree. I like to dry apples. It reminds me of summer days on Grandma’s porch ‘working up’ fruits and vegetables. Good memories.

    I try to make memories intentional for our grandson. One reason is to make ‘his people’ on his Mom’s side three-dimensional people, not just a flat picture with names and dates. I hope I can teach him to make intentional memories himself. I think handed-down family stories teach us that, to make and keep memories we will hand down in our turn.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    February 12, 2021 at 9:11 am

    I think your aunt Mary Jo’s pie looks delicious and elegant with its crispy, thin layers. Also, there’s no way to make a bad apple anything! Apples are nutritious, aid in digestion, clean the teeth and gums, strengthen the immune system and apple cider vinegar sanitizes and apple cider is refreshing in the fall or anytime. My brother eats the entire apple—- core and all. He takes apple love to another level with that one! Your great grandma sounds like a beautiful soul. God bless you ,Tipper, as you add memories to your already rich and fulfilling life! BTW it’s icy outside and you can’t stand up. I used a broom to help me walk to feed the poor birdies.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    February 12, 2021 at 8:48 am

    I know they aren’t really apples, but…. can someone tell me if a body can safely eat mayapples? I remember hearing about mayapple jelly. When I search for info. I am not convinced that they are safe to eat. Maybe there’s an old-timey method like when you have to boil poke 3 times. Also, could you post the particulars about the book you mentioned in a previous post? The Tall Woman. Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 12, 2021 at 10:14 am

      Sharon- the book is The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman.

  • Reply
    Cindy Pressley
    February 12, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Tipper, I loved this video and I love your you tube channel! I am so impressed with presentations. They are clear, articulate, and relevant. It like folklore meets the electronic age as the old ways come to line on the internet.
    Thank you! I love my home in Appalachia and you do such a fine job of presenting us to the world.

    Now about that pie…I was at your house the other day and helped myself to a little piece of that apple pie…and it was wonderful! You got it just right!

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