Appalachian Food

Early Applesauce

pile of apples with a knife beside them

“Mother seldom canned or dried June apples. The winter had been long and we yearned for fresh fruit. She fried the June apples and served them with hot biscuits, freshly churned butter, and milk. Sometimes she made applesauce.”

—Sidney Saylor Farr “More than Moonshine”

I’ve been wanting to taste June apples ever since I heard them mentioned here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn.

During our cooking class a few weeks back Carolyn suggested we walk to the Folk School’s apple trees and pick apples. I said “Are you sure they’ll be ready?” She assured me they would be and they were.

Carolyn said the tree variety was Early Harvest. We made applesauce and dried apples from the ones we picked during the class and both turned out great.

I had the opportunity to pick some more of the apples last week. I worked them up into applesauce and apple preserves yesterday. They made the prettiest applesauce!

As I admired my jars sitting on the table I realized the apples had to at least be similar to June apples because they were indeed ready to pick during the last of June. I suppose there are different varieties of June apples just like there are different varieties of fall apples.

The Early Harvest apples from the Folk School may not be the June apples folks remember from days gone by, but at least I’m getting closer to finding them.


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  • Reply
    William J. Boone
    January 27, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Mom-Mom’s next door neighbors had a big early apple tree that we called summer apples just like the ones you show. Pop-Pop had a sour and a sweet cherry tree he called wax cherries. They were light yellow with a pink blush. When they were ripening, he hung a plow share in each tree with another small piece of iron attached to strong cord which ran down to the posts of the little roof that covered the cement slab coming out the back door from the kitchen. Every one coming in or out pulled the cords to ring the plow share “bell” to scare the birds that loved to pick at the cherries. He’d get about two bushels off each tree. He and Mom-Mom would sit in the kitchen and hand squeeze the seeds out out of every one of them to be canned. One of my favorite dishes was roly-boly or “pig”. Mom-Mom made a biscuit type dough and rolled it out about 3/4″ thick. A drained quart of cherries, either kind, or cut-up peach halves was put on top, rolled up and pinched at all seams and boiled in an old pillow case twisted shut and tied off with cord for 45 minutes to an hour until the dough was cooked through. It was about the same size and shape as a fat football. It was cut across in slices and eaten in a big soup bowl with milk and sugar. We had this frequently and I could never get enough. This dish comes from the early German settlers who took up farming in Maryland and Pennsylvania long before the Civil War.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 22, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Mommy canned every apple she could get her hands on. She just peeled them, cooked them until they fell apart and put them in jars. She called it “fruit”. Now it’s called applesauce. She added nothing to her applesauce. If it was sweet apples you got sweet applesauce. If it was tart apples it was tart applesauce. When she opened a jar she would taste it and add whatever she thought it need then. If there is a better recipe than that for applesauce I’ve never tasted it.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 22, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Your picture brought wonderful memories flooding back. Just across the Swinging Bridge on a deserted farm place there was a June Apple tree which bore fruit just like that in the picture. We could hardly wait for them to ripen so my Mom could turn them into wonderful food ranging from Fried Pies to sauce which was eaten with hot biscuits and freshly churned butter and some into spiced stack cakes. The Honey Suckle eventually overgrew the tree and killed it. I wish I had one like it now but hindsight is 20=20 and I never thought of the loss when younger.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    When my sister and I were staying at our Granny Croley’s house ( a little shot-gun house) their bedroom was the last room as you come in from the back porch .They slept on an iron bed which sat pretty high off the floor under which were stores of all manner of goods she had canned. At the foot of the bed on the floor is where the big crock sat for making very ” hot ” green tomato ketsup, she called it. It was also where she stored her dried apples along the underside of the bed in bags in boxes. June apples that neighbors or kinfolk would bring her much of the time. I remember them as being green and very tart. I called them green apples and loved to eat them with salt just liked I did lemons. :). From those June apples she’d cook up a big bowl of applesauce deliciousness, seasoned with a goodly amount of butter, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, to taste. So so good , to us it was like a dessert. She also made fried apple pies from that sweetened goodness worked up from the flour bin in her white hoosier cabinet that also held her flour sack rags in the drawers,…. cold biscuits, and a stash of vanilla wafers in their nooks… to the table where she’d cut them out. I know it by heart and her love too:), ….yummy… a cold biscuit she made was the best treat a pig-tailed girl could have the privilege of eating.

  • Reply
    Hank Skewis
    July 22, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    You know, “June Apple” is a great fiddle tune too! Thanks Tipper..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 22, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Grammaw’s June apple tree produced apples just like in the picture. They were ready in late June but she wouldn’t let us eat them until after the 4th of July. The tree was way up in the pasture and she couldn’t see it from her porch but she trusted us. She shouldn’t have! The tree was right off over the roadbank and some of the limbs hung out over the road. I mean, they were right there. The forbidden fruit!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    I called the Radio Station at Murphy and thanked her for playing “Cabin by the Side of the Road” by Pap and Ray. After she listened and before she quit, she said someone called inquiring just what relationship the Girls were to Jerry. She told them he was their Grandfather. It’s about time Chitter and Chatter was getting some recognition on the Radio cause they’re Great. Off to get my car inspected. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    my grand parents had a JUNE apple tree besides the wash pit, ( 2 cast iron pots, one for heating the well water and one for washing clothes, would rinse with cold water ). The delight of my day was to get a few of the green apples and head to the woods. Grandma made the best apple pies when the apples ripened. Lots of memorie.
    Any know where I might locate some June Apple trees for planting???

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 22, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Those June Apples were Red, with streaks of Pink in it, like Jim’s comment says. But if you name a certain kind of Apple, more’n likely we would have it. All I can think of in our Orchard was Winter Johns and Ben Davis, but there was lots of others too. Daddy would have us boys to gather the apples in a pile under each tree, and put Tar Paper on top before covering up. That way, when we were Posseum Hunting with our four Fiests, we could uncover and get to those Apples, clean and beautiful. We had a lot of Broom Sage and Daddy had us to pull it and put it underneath then Apples. Those were the “Good ole Days”. …Ken

  • Reply
    Fran Dixon
    July 22, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Your picture looks like a June apple to me. I remember them being a light green color, and always a rounder apple. There used to be a tree on the road to my grandmas and we would pick up one to eat when we walked down to visit

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

    My Paternal grandparents old farm had a June Apple tree just outside the yard. This placement was the case a lot to deter bees from gathering in the yards. Apples were so plentiful back in those days. Dad did not care for them and with all the canning my Mother canned very few apples. She did make an apple pie of sorts, but not like the ones they have now. Hers were made from apple sauce and thickened. I have often wondered why this was not done more often, as they were truly delicious. I remember them giving away many apples. Also many of the better tasting apples cannot be found in stores. They try to use apples that “keep.” As usual your posts are down to earth and bring back memories. Reminds me, I found an old church cookbook at a thrift store with the recipe for pie made from applesauce. Your post is a reminder! I doubt my Mom and Dad ever purchased an apple.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Tipper – would you mind sharing your applesauce recipe? Thanks!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 9:14 am

    When I take the back roads driving to town, I always see a loaded June apple tree in a front yard close to the road. The ground is covered with apples, as if they were not being used. I finally got the nerve to stop and ask if the homeowner would sell me a bushel. She wasn’t home so I jotted down my request and added my phone number on a note I left on her door. She called me after she got home that day and was nearly as excited as I was that someone actually wanted those apples. She said she had picked one several weeks ago and it was still on the counter. She told me I could come pick them all! She is a nurse and away from home long hours. She gave me permission to come pick them without asking any time she was home or at work. I took her a gift bag full of candles, lotion and soaps in exchange for her generous offer. I still feel like I came out way ahead on the deal when I ate that first fried apple pie. It had been close to thirty years since I had the pleasure of eating a June apple.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 22, 2019 at 8:52 am

    When we first moved into Trim Cove in the early 50’s, we had about 15 Apple trees on our place then. I was just a little squirt back then. We had an old timey June Apple tree close to the house and Harold could climb like nobody’s business. We had already pulled all the June Apples we could reach, so Harold would shimmy to the top of that tree and get me a nice red one. Boy, that thing tasted good!

    Mama would send us way up in the field and gather Apples from the orchard. There’s poplar trees now that you couldn’t reach around, where we use to have a Corn Field, and the lower end was full of potatoes.. There was one tree, Mama called it Potts Apple, she’d cut holes in that thing and pour sugar in it. It was to get out the core, but to me it looked like a Volcano. Anyway, she’d fix about 20, put them in our old Wood Stove oven with the jacket still on, and your jaws would beat your brains out when they were ready.

    All these Apple trees are all gone now, but I got to experience it. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 22, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Like you, I wish I could find ‘real’ June apples. I have posted about it before but at my Grandma’s place there was one. The apples were red-green and the flesh very white. They did get ripe in June and my brother and I ate them nearly every day until they were gone. The tree blew down and I have missed those apples for about fifty years.

    I have been drying apples from our one apple tree. I am picking up the ones the birds knock down. They come every morning about 10 o’clock and I pick up about 8 to 12 every day. If I leave them the deer come and after my disaster last year I don’t want to encourage them to hang around. I salvage what I can and have dried enough to fill 4 quart bags.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    July 22, 2019 at 8:06 am

    My mother in law in western Pa. had a tree of early apples outside her kitchen window. we couldn’t wait till they were ready to use. She called them early transparent. They make the best applesauce and pies, good for eating too.

    • Reply
      July 22, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Carol, I grew up in Western PA and I remember that term too. Also loved those tiny crab apples that grandma canned. Where in Western PA? I grew up in St. Marys.

      • Reply
        carol harrison
        July 23, 2019 at 8:53 am

        In Stoneboro, Mercer County. I was born and raised in Mercer, county seat of Mercer County. My husband was from Stoneboro near Sandy Lake and Lake Wilhelm.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 22, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Tipper–One of my many fond culinary memories of childhood involves June apples. Lillie Quiett, the next-door neighbor of my paternal grandparents, had a giant June apple which bore prolifically every year despite never being pruned, sprayed, or otherwise cared for. She freely shared the apples and on multiple occasions I gathered windfalls for Grandma Minnie to use in pies, to make applesauce, or to dry (and later be used in a stack cake). These June apples were bright red and even the flesh had streaks of pink in it.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    July 22, 2019 at 7:43 am

    We had three different apple trees in our yard and they all came in at different times. The first were the ones you mentioned that came in June. The next came in July and the last were, according to my memory, Smokehouse apples that came in during the fall.
    We had a sweet and sour cherry trees and one pear tree.
    There was always fresh fruit from June til October.
    I miss those days.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 22, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Tipper, your picture looks like the June apples I remember. The ones I remember, as we used to say, got meller (mellow) real quick.
    Growing up we ate fried apples quite a bit. Occasionally we still fry apples for breakfast.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 22, 2019 at 7:29 am

    My grandmother had one of those early apple trees. She called it an Early Transparent apple. It looked just like the ones you used, and were soft and kind of mild tasting. She didn’t use them for preserving, I think because they were soft and mild. She had several other apple trees that came in later and they were firmer and more flavorful. She put up lots of them.

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