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Black Twig apples

Black Twig apples straight from the orchard

I was watching an episode of the Two Fat Ladies cooking show last week (I’ve been working my way through the entire series on DVD), and they were making a dish with apples. One of the ladies said, “But don’t use Golden Delicious. They have no flavor.” Then they had a little discussion about how Americans don’t know much about apples.

I couldn’t agree more. I make the same complaint all the time, especially when I pass the apples in the grocery store. I’ve probably said it a thousand times. Apples must be ugly. “Pretty” apples are bred for grocery stores.

Some people also would be afraid to buy an apple with a name they haven’t heard of. They want the mass-market varieties — Golden Delicious, Winesap, Granny Smith, etc. They’ve forgotten the names of the old home-orchard varieties.

I bought my apple trees from Century Farm Orchards in Caswell County, North Carolina. I had to make a trip there today to pick up two apple trees I had ordered — two two-year-old Arkansas Black trees to replace two young trees that died during the summer. Century Farm specializes in old Southern varieties of apple trees. I have 10 apple trees in my little orchard, and they’re a mix of old Southern varieties: Arkansas Black, Limbertwig, Kinnaird’s Choice, Mary Reid, Smokehouse, Summer Banana, William’s Favorite and Yellow June. I also have a Pumblee pear tree from Century Farms. The trees were planted in 2008. I’m not expecting the trees to be mature enough to bear apples for probably two more years.


  1. Quetal wrote:

    Many Americans know plenty about apples. In such areas where you & I (Placerville, Russian River, Watsonville, Escalon, Ripon, Oakdale, San Joaquin) live, as well Washington state and other great communities who sell their fresh from the trees or barn stored apples at Farmers markets, Whole Foods etc. I think those old gals, may they RIP, were a bit snooty.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  2. David L.M. Marcum wrote:

    I sorely miss the apples from our old family farm. Granny called them “silky” apples. They were a small pale yellow apple, very tart, that ripened in late June. They were roughly the size of a typical plum. I’ve tried June apples, but they are not quite the same. I have not found the name on-line to date in any of the gardening websites, etc. So perhaps it’s an extinct species, or perhaps Granny used a local common name for the apple. While I always enjoyed them from the orchard for eating (once you got past the yellowjackets), Granny generally dried them and used them for cooking. They made excellent dried apples from which she often made “fried apple pies.”

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 5:10 am | Permalink
  3. admin wrote:

    Hi Henry. Yes … some of the best apples I’ve had came from Sonoma County.

    Fried apple pies! I remember those from when I was a young’un. I wonder if I should try to make some…

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  4. Quetal wrote:

    Please publish the recipe for fried apple pie. I would love to try it.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  5. David L.M. Marcum wrote:

    My mother and I recreated Granny’s fried apple pies last Christmas when I was at home in Kentucky. I had tried before and failed with what ended up a soggy, greasy mess. While I’m a decent cook, I have zero skills as a pastry-maker or baker. Our amiable Host can probably provide a far superior recipe and method, but here is what we did to recreate Granny’s version:

    A fried apple pie is basically an apple turnover, made in a skillet. The filling is made from DRIED (very important) tart apples. First lightly sautee your applies in some butter, a little water, and sugar to taste. The apples should soften up, but not get mushy. That’s your filling. Make a batch of your favorite biscuit dough. Take a ball of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it out into a very thin circle. You’ll have to flour your rolling pin constantly, or the dough sticks to the pin. On one side of the disk, away from the edges, place a heaping Tbsp. or two of the filling. Fold over the other half, creating a half-moon. Use a fork to pinch the edges together. Then gently pat it down so that it’s flat-ish like a typical turnover. Pierce the dough with the fork to allow heat to escape during cooking. Once you’ve made all your turnovers, place them a couple at a time in a skillet or on a griddle that has been well oiled. Granny used lard. We used Crisco for our attempt. I seem to think it has to be at medium-high heat They will brown quickly, so pay attention. Flip once. Remove when both sides are a nice golden color. Allow to cool a bit and then have at them.

    Granny’s were never greasy. The bread had the consistency of a decent biscuit, instead of being flaky like a typical turnover. Our experiment turned out fried apple pies that looked pretty much like hers — and tasted just like them. When I was young, I had to be constrained from eating several in one sitting. As an adult who eats fairly healthy all the time, my tastes (and digestive system) have changed, I suppose. I enjoyed two of the ones Mother and I made, and then regretted them. I’m not accustomed to fried foods anymore. Oh, well. The time spent remembering Granny was well worth it.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink
  6. admin wrote:

    David … The process you describe is very much the way I recall my mother and grandmother doing it. They also used biscuit dough, not pastry dough. However, I don’t recall that they started with dried apples. Do you know why that’s important?

    I’ve been thinking about trying to make some, but I’m balking at the frying part. You’re right — they would have used Crisco or lard, and fairly high heat is needed. I’m not sure what I’d fry them in. Maybe coconut oil?

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  7. Quetal wrote:

    I found a few recipes on the net, what would I use in place of shortening (nasty stuff)?

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  8. David L.M. Marcum wrote:

    I tried using fresh apples in my first attempt. They turned into apple sauce. Apparently (per Mother), using dried apples allows you to reconstitute the moisture in the apples during the cooking without mushing them.

    Not sure about what else to use for the frying part. In my first attempt, I used vegetable oil, but it didn’t taste right.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink
  9. Quetal wrote:

    David L., thank you for the recipe and directions. I’ll scout around for an alternative to shortening and pass it on if I’m successful.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

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