Appalachian Food Thankful November

Thankful November – The Foxfire Book

collage of photos thankful

Here’s what “The Foxfire Book” has to say about drying vegetables.

PUMPKIN: Mrs. Tom Kelly said, “This is a recipe that was used in most families in olden times. You slice th’pumpkin around in circles, take th’seeds out, peel it, and hang it on a stick crosswise of th’joists of th’house. Let it hang there until it dries. Then store it in sacks. It took a long time to cook, and you have to cook it several hours, and they season it with hog meat grease.

SWEET POTATOES: Boil the potatoes until done. Slip off the skins and slice. Put on a clean white cloth and put out in the sun each day. Then stack for winter use in pudding, pie, etc. Some people would just peel and slice without boiling, and set out to dry.

CORN: Corn was cut as if it were going to be cooked (twice around the cob, according to Mrs. Harriet Echols), and then spread out in the sun, sometimes on a piece of tin.

OKRA: Slice okra. Put on a piece of metal which has been covered with brown paper or on a white cloth to keep the okra off the metal or tin sheet being used. Place thinly on the sheet, and put out in the sun. Cover at night. Let dry until ready to take off the paper. Remove and put in bag until desired to use for cooking.

LEATHER BREECHES BEANS: String tender green beans. Fill a long needle with a long strong thread. Push the needle thorough the center of the bean, pushing the beans together at the end of the thread, filling from knot end to needle. Hang up the string by one end in the warm air, but not in direct sunlight. This gives the beans a better flavor. Let them remain hanging until the beans become dry. Store in a bag until ready to use.

PEAS: Pick the peas when ripe, and lay them in the sun to dry. After they are thoroughly dry, place them on a sheet outside on a windy day, and beat the hulls off with a stick. The wind will blow the chaff away and leave just the peas. Store the peas in sacks in a dry place until you’re ready to eat them.

—”The Foxfire Book”

Today’s Thankful November giveaway is a used copy of “The Foxfire Book.” I will warn you the book seems to have been stored near a woodburning stove since it smells faintly of woodsmoke. Miss Cindy picked up the book at our local dump store—do you have a dump store?

At our local garbage dump there is a little shed where folks can discard items that can still be used and take items left by other people. When Miss Cindy saw the copy of “The Foxfire Book” she grabbed it up knowing it would be perfect for my Thankful November. *Giveaway ends November 13, 2020.

The winner of the used Foxfire 2 book is Wanda Devers who said:

“My husband & I were just talking about plowing with mules a few days ago. I do remember a single pointed blade that went pretty deep and threw up a roll of dirt. I remember Daddy plowing all day with mules in a bottom so long one turn took a day. And plowing our garden where the mule’s foot & leg went down into an old well no one knew was there. They put old railroad crossties and dirt it it but there was a sunken place there that’s probably still there. The stuff of nightmares especially since Mama would sing a song about a little girl falling in an old well and getting killed.

We have just bought one of the small to medium sized tractors! My husband is in absolute heaven!! It was delivered yesterday and he’s already carried an old mower in the bucket back to his recycling area for metal. It cost a fortune but it should last a lifetime.

I have some of the Foxfire books and I love them. Should I win this one, I think I will give it to my best friend who has been gardening & canning like mad after the shortages we’ve had.”

The winner of the two children’s hats is Dana who said:

“I’ve always wanted this skill and I can’t seem to get past making the first stitch. I keep on trying.”

Wanda and Dana send your mailing address to me at [email protected] and I’ll send you the goodies 🙂


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  • Reply
    November 12, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I enjoy drying more than canning, a vehicle parked in full sun makes a handy one. I would tie clean flat diapers between the rows in my mini van to get a lot of drying surface area. I’ll stick w/ pumpkin butter, though. Something only slightly related, I was watching a Scottish guy on youtube visiting the Highland Games, or something Scots related. The water we have in the mountains blew him away. He remarked that he was a world traveler & we have the only water that tastes the same as Scotland. I imagine the good tasting water makes everything more palatable when reconstituting all of the dried winter goods.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 11, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that I won!!

    Not sure if I told you about my green beans. We planted running beans and didn’t know much about them. Anyway we planted too close both in seeds and in the fence for them to run on. Had to cut them apart in the middle! I didn’t know they were late to produce beans but I was in for a surprise. I canned till I ran out of pint jars. I went out last week to get the big ones to save for seed and I could have picked a big mess to cook!! I pretended I did not see them and I still feel a little guilty.

  • Reply
    Maxine Appleby
    November 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    Tipper, As you know, I am really interested in learning about the «  old ways » that Appalachian folk used to have as they went about their lives. Food preservation and storage was critical to eating during the winter months. I have loved learning these ways and teaching about them in my Appalachian Women courses at Wofford. So, I would really love to have a copy of Foxfire that smells of wood! Put me on the list for entry to win it, please!!
    Thanks for continuing to enrich our lives witv the stories, music and people of this beautiful land.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2020 at 10:59 am

    I do remember as a little girl, Momma and Daddy and myself would string beans and hang them up . They would be hanging all over the place in the house. I always like helping momma do this every year.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2020 at 10:50 am

    My mother-in-law dried leather breeches on the hood of a car every year.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 10, 2020 at 10:07 am

    The one I’m most familiar with is leather britches and I never heard of drying pumpkin. My Mamaw Lewis mostly grew cushaws and made good cushaw butter, but I don’t remember how she stored the whole ones.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I have an old book called “Putting Food By”, and it has lots of ideas. It never hurts to know alternative ways of keeping food through the Winter, although I had some Winter Squash that seemed to last for months just like it came from the garden.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2020 at 9:25 am

    I don’t recall anyone drying pumpkins or potatoes. We dried beans, peas, berries and some fruits. Most everything else was canned – meat, sausage, pickles etc. Mom canned small white potatoes once but they were so salty we couldn’t eat them. Sweet potatoes were stored in the “tater hole” and covered with straw. This was in the barn under the harness room.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 10, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Wood smoke and a Foxfire book just go together. Sounds like a prize copy to me. Kinda like the way I like Grandpa’s pine tar soap. The smoky pine smell reminds me of the wood cook stove, campfires, wildfires – a lot of good memories.

    The part about drying made me think I could cut cheesecloth to go on my dehydrator trays to do corn or other small things that would fall through the grid. And I think I mentioned this before but anything dried in the vicinity of a wood burning stove would have a subtle smoky taste. The foodies would probably think that was worth a tidy sum compared to ‘plain’. Just goes to show, we have always been ahead of the crowd. They are just doing catch up.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    November 10, 2020 at 6:48 am

    I’ve heard of many dried fruits and vegetables on a screen in the attic or tarp spread out, etc but here’s the take away: if you want to eat – you have to work. There’s no freebies and never will be. The laziness and sense of entitlement I am watching from lazy, loud dummies Really gets my goat!!! I get up early and work at something all day every day. It keeps my mind, body and prayer life strong.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      November 10, 2020 at 10:10 am

      Amen Margie! I agree!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 10, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Congratulations to Wanda and Dana, those are treasures for sure! I remember my Granny drying beans and she canned pumpkin, sweet Potatoes and corn but I don’t remember her preserving peas she also dried okra. She canned a lot of green beans. When all the jars she had were full then she started drying things. She either spread them in a screen or threaded then on a string to hand.
    This was the way of it back them.

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