Apples

Apple Hand Pie or Fried Apple Pies

I love everything apple and will eat apples just about any way that you find them. I love to use wild and free apples when ever I can to make treats for the family but one treat I love more than most is hand pies. Some southern families make these small fried pies with biscuit dough others with smashed Wonder Bread and mine are made with frozen white bread dough. All of them have a freshly made filling, some sweet some savory, and all are fried to a deep golden brown on the stove top while the little ones watch. Hand pies have been made in the South for generations and no one ever turns one down. The pies are eaten hot and served as dessert, breakfast or as an after school snack. Often the fillings for the pies are whatever a southern mother had left over from a family dinner. Apple sauce, peaches, raisins, even savory pies would have left over roast and veggies.

My mother in law would often make then with white bread in a pie maker with home canned pie fillings. The neighbor  kids could smell then 1/2 mile away and knew what she was making and pray she would make them one!

toas-tite-camp-pie-maker

I personally have not invested in a pie maker of any kind although they seem to make great pies and bind the edges together very well… less of the filling leaking out is always a good thing.I just use my fingers to roll the bread dough together. The edges are a little more individual but they rarely leak.

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Filled Apple Hand Pies

So to make my version of an Apple Hand Pie, I start with a frozen bread dough for dinner rolls and place them out to thaw. I also peal, core and dice two or three snake size apples. The apples in these photos are Gala but you can use just about any apple that will not turn to mush when cooked.

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dinner-roll-flattened-for-pies

Frozen dinner roll dough 

 

 

fired-apple-pie-filling

Fried diced apples with butter and brown sugar

I dice the apples into a skillet with two teaspoons of butter and cook over med heat for 3 or 4 minutes.Adding brown sugar, cinnamon , and a little water to the hot apples. I let the water cook down until the sauce is thick and sticky. With some apples no water is needed to soften the apples,they provide enough juice to cook down the apples with out scorching.I had to add water to cook them until they were soft around the edges. I let the filling cool while rolling out the dough. Each dinner roll makes about a 5 inch circle with a little tugging and rolling. I put about two table spoons filling on half the pie crust and fold over the warm apple filling. I squeeze the edges together then roll them upward and roll up the edge with a pinch at the end of the pie.

I then fry the pies in hot oil about 325 to 350 degrees just long enough for the pie to float and turn brown on both sides. The dough is thin and gets crispy fast. I make two pies at a time.

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Cooling Apple Hand Pies with cinnamon sugar 

Draining them on paper towels and topping with a dollop of butter and a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Let cool slightly before eating or cutting open to share.

 

Apple Hand Pies ready to eat.jpg

Fried Apple Hand Pies with homemade filling

Recipe for Apple Hand Pies:

One bag of frozen dinner rolls.. I make two per person.

3 small snack size apples per 3 people Gala, Winesap, Red Delicious work well.

3 Tablespoons salted butter.One used to add to cinnoman topping.

2 Tablespoons brown sugar.

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.

1/4 cup or less water

Cooking oil for frying

a mixture of cinnamon and sugar for dusting tops of pies

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Apples, country cooking, Hand Pies, Pie, Uncategorized, wild food | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

One Bee Hive at a Time

bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm

Bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm 2002

I have spent several years thinking about becoming a beekeeper and this year I will officially have my own hive. I have followed blogs and read books and talked with several beekeepers about the hobby.  I have been supportive in my gardens to feed all pollinators and like any normal person I love honey. So this February I enrolled with about 40 other community members in a Department of Agriculture class titled “Beginning Beekeeping” given through the Lewis County,W.V. Extension Office. The class was what I needed to feel like I can become a responsible beekeeper.

One of the wonderful things about the class was to see who also enrolled in the very inexpensive class.They are the faces of people who I see almost everyday,there were farmers, business owners, teachers, retired state employees, gas men, salespeople and few children all eager to learn how to help the bees. It was an equal mix of husbands and wives and families who all felt the drawn to honey and the plight of the bees. Maybe it was a mixture of love and fear that made all of us trudge to the 4 classes almost 2 1/2 hours long in the cold evenings of February.

Living in an agriculture heavy state bees are a serious topic of conversation.My community worries about the future of our farms and orchards with less pollinators . They want education and they want to help bees.The classes were eye-opening for all of us. According to USDA’s 2014 report open pollinated soybean and apples are our state’s 3rd and 4th largest cash crops. Those two bee loving crops produces $25,708,000 dollars of produce for our state’s economy. This is only the information on registered producers who sell for profit. The effects of low bee populations are dramatic when you add in all the other fruit and vegetables that are lower on the list and all the produce from the back yard farmers that sell or give away their produce. It is overwhelming that all of this money rests on the winged shoulders of our bee population.With bees in decline all of us at this class understood the importance of our attempt on a small-scale to help.

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Honey sweetens the pot for beekeepers who want to also make a profit from caring for the bees. In our class were able to get enough information about bee keeping to think seriously about what we will do with the honey. Our family plans to eat and give away honey with the comb in jars, so we will be doing a more historic and traditional way of processing our honey then many in our class. Most members will be removing the honey with a centrifuge system that should make honey production faster and easier.

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

As spring arrives I will be writing more and sharing photos of our last class where all of us beginners will get a hands on chance to open and split a hive, take a look inside the hive and look at the condition of the queen and the comb. It will be just before then that we should have our hive and begin setting it up in the yard. Around the same time our bees should arrive and we will take the first steps in this adventure. I am looking forward to sharing my new hobby with my husband and two sons. If I am lucky maybe they will also see the value in raising these very important pollinators and will see the overall benefits to our family, community and state. If Christopher finds any interest in the bees he can even use them as a 4-H project to educate other kids about bees, honey and how important they are to our world.  It is because of all people I call my friends that I think together we can make a difference in our environment one hive at a time.

Categories: 4-H, Apples, Beekeeping, Foraging, hobbies, Honey, Preserving, rural life | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Scraps of Home Made Apple Sauce.

Apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and apple cider vinegar are things I try to make for my family every fall. I try very hard to forage my apples to use in these recipes. I hate to see one of my friends let a tree full of healthy organic apples go to waste. So every summer I start looking around at who has apples that they do not use and try to remember to ask them if I can have them. This summer I was a little unsure of where I was going to get my apples. We moved and I did know to many people who had apple trees in our new area. I remembered a huge apple tree at my favorite public library. Why not ask the librarian of the Lewis Bennett Library  what they were going to do with some of the apples…. it couldn’t hurt to ask right?

So after asking the  head Librarian Karen about the apples, she said no one had asked for the apples and most of the time the apples just fell and made a huge mess on the library side-walk. She let me have as many of the apples as I wanted. The tree is well over 100 years old and they do nothing to maintain the tree so they are again chemical free, of unknown species and cost me nothing, a perfect fit for my foraging personality.

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library the tree is in the right of this photo three stories tall and full of apples

So after a couple of hours with my apple picker in the yard of this historical mansion I had filled my buckets with about 70 pounds of a soft yellow-green apples.

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

Most people call these deer apples and never plan to use them at home but let the deer enjoy them.Today I was able to make 6 quarts of apple sauce from 8 pounds of these little apples.( I have a DIY post about how to make  Home Made Apple Sauce here) They made a very nice sweet apple sauce so I am guessing they are a golden delicious type of apple developed in Clay County West Virginia around the time the house was built.

Quarts of home made cinnamon apple sauce

Quarts of home-made cinnamon apple sauce

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

To make Apple Cider Vinegar I took the peals and cores from these apples and split them between two gallon containers. I left enough room at the top to let water stand over the top of the cores and peals. The apples will begin to ferment under the water’s surface but Some mold may grow if a peal is sticking up to high.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Next I added 2 and 1/2 quarts of warm water that I had added 2 1/2 heaping tables spoons of white sugar to each jar. Making a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water. The sugar helps feed the Bactria to get a good start to the fermentation. It also adds a sweetness to the vinegar. I use most of my vinegar for cooking so I want a strong apple flavor without much sweetness. If I was drinking this everyday I would add more sugar to make to flavor more drinkable. One recipe I read had 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon. It is not necessary to use this much sugar, apples ferment quickly! Apples have a lot of  natural sugars and yeasts that ferment so well it is hard to stop raw apple juice from turning to wine and vinegar in a matter of days with out a chemical to stop the fermentation. Believe me no sugar is really needed to ferment apples, we have had a few drunk cows on the farm from eating rotten apples in the pasture,what a funny sight !

Quart jar and sugar bowel

Quart jar and sugar bowel

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

Here I am trying to keep the apples under the water surface with a small bowel to prevent mold or scum from growing around the top of the jar. I then cover the jars with cloth to prevent bugs or dust from getting into the jars. I store my jars in our laundry room. Where the temp in the summer is more constant much like a cellar. It never freezes but is never as hot as the house on a hot summer day. The best fermentation happens between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Now I wait two weeks to strain out the apple cores and peels. The fermentation will actually take several weeks and the smell of vinegar will increase as the amount of sugar decreases. At about 4 weeks the sugar should be eaten up by the bacteria that converts the sugar to alcohol than into vinegar. At this time you can filter the vinegar to make it look clear or rack it just like wine. I will filter mine with cheese cloth just to remove the large pieces of apple and return the vinegar back to the shelf for two more weeks to make sure that all the fermentation is finished at 6 weeks. If by chance you notice that the apple cider vinegar has a slimy pad floating in it (smile really big)… you have grown a “Mother” or “Scoby” that should be removed and  stored to make the next batch of ACV ( apple cider vinegar) and reduce the time for fermentation to about 4 weeks on another batch.

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

The raw ACV can at this point be bottled and kept in the refrigerator and it will be good up to 1 year. My family goes through about 1 gallon in a year so this is the amount I try to make. If you want to keep it on the shelf for easy storage then the you need to cook and bottle the ACV. The cooking process does two things. It will kill the good Bactria growing in the ACV ( pasteurizing the ACV)  but will also stabilizes it so that you can store it almost indefinitely. ACV is processed like any other canned food with sterile bottles or jars and correct processing times.

So if you are a fan of raw apple cider vinegar you can make this for pennies. I think the most expensive part would be to get containers. Most families do not use as much vinegar as we do so with just an old spaghetti sauce jar ( 1 quart size) and 3 apples you could make enough ACV for at least 6 months. It is just another way to make some thing from free healthy foraged food.

So when I finally get the 18 quarts of apple sauce finished, the 8 pints of apple butter, the 10 jelly pints of apple jelly, and the gallon of apple cider vinegar finished in 6 weeks, I will feel like I stocked my pantry well from these free ugly old deer apples that no one wanted! Here at links to my post on Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Jelly they are also made with free apples and made much like this with a two for one process.

Categories: apple butter, apple cider vinger, apple sauce, Apples, fermentation, Foraging, Lewis Bennett Library, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

True Love is always found over Pie: My recipe for True Love Apple Pie

close up a green apples

close up a green apples

Every time I make apple pie I remember how just one slice changed everything between Tom and I. It was  Thanksgiving day in Baumholder West Germany ( at the time they were still East and West) my first holiday away from home and on an Army Base. A couple of us girls with off Post housing thought we would make dinner for our friends who were either single or home alone while their husbands were out in the field or doing other assignments.The food and company had to be better than dinner at the Mess Hall so the plans were set. We were a loose bunch of friends from the 363rd mechanized unit. Some were Gunners, Recovery Specialist, Mechanics, Tankers, Mortar Men, Radio Controllers, but  most of all, we were part of the United States Army family.We were brought together from all over the country. We had friends from small towns and big cities, from the green east to the sunny west from the cold north to the deep south. Our dinner party had a random mixture of accents, stories and colors of skin. We were all from the U.S.  and we all wanted to have a traditional American Thanksgiving even if we were thousands of miles away from home..

My friend Angie was the hostess that Thanksgiving, making most of the main course of the  dinner, the rest of us girls just helped out. I have always liked to bake and worked in a bakery for several years so I volunteered to make the traditional pies for the dinner two pumpkin and one apple. I made the same recipe that I still fallow today. Around 1 p.m. in the afternoon I walked the fresh home-made pies to Angie’s midsize two bedroom apartment. We lived only about 4 blocks away from each other in white stucco apartments. The crowd arrived and I think we had about 15 for dinner and the house was full. We ate sitting on the floor, on dinning chairs and on sofa arms . The food was great, the music was the 80’s metal bands and smoke-filled the room as dinner was over and deserts got cut. I help to serve pie, ice cream and cake. But what caught my attention that day was Tom. After a few bites of pie he returned to where I stood and asked me where I learned to make the apple pie. I said from my mothers old cookbook and we continued to talk. The talking never really ended.

granny smith apples sliced

granny smith apples sliced

That afternoon we spent hours talking about our families and that we both loved home cooked food and Christmas fudge that our families would send over to us from home. He talked about his dog and I talked about my cat. We eat another piece of pie and spent the rest of the evening sitting together in the living room playing Gun and Roses, Ozzy, White Snake, AC/DC  on the stereo turn table with Tom as D.J. Our friends moved in and out of groups of conversations and beer bottles hissed and dancing happened. We never moved from that old soft recliner where I sat on the floor watching him change albums. Hours passed, dishes needed cleared and beer bottles clanked in the trash bag as ashes got dumped in from a hundred cigarettes. We were still talking and cleaning and neither of us wanted it to end. Finally around 11 p.m. I had to walk home and Tom offered to walk with me. In the glow of street lamps, on the cobble stones we walked the 4 blocks from Angie’s apartment to mine where we said good night.

apple pie filling is ready to bake

apple pie filling is ready to bake

He never kissed or  hugged me at that old wooden door. He only said  he was happy that I was safe at home and that he loved my pie. He turned and started to walk up the steep cobble stone hill in front of my apartment building. I watched as he reached the crest and he turned and waved good-bye to me on his 2 mile walk back to the barracks. I spent to rest of the night wondering what in the world was so good about that pie and how he would have to get up in just a few hours and go to work. I was happy to see him the following evening after he got off work so we could talk more over a beer or two.

I never did understand why that pie was so good. I never did forget that walk home in the misty night. I am just thankful that I can still make it for him. Today I am preparing for a fruit pie contest at the 4-H fair. I have made other things for the fair but this will be the first time I have made a pie. So I am making a couple of TEST apple pies today and want to share the recipe with you just because this pie is why my husband and I are still in love.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do making them.

Apple pie ready for the oven

Apple pie ready for the oven

My True Love Apple Pie ( deep dish)

1  Double Pie crust… store-bought or home-made.

5 to 6 large Granny Smith Apples ( 2 pounds),peeled, cored and sliced very thin.

1/2 half cup packed dark brown sugar

1   tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup salted real butter

add lots of love.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until filling is bubbly. Always put pie on cook sheet to prevent juice from running over into oven.Cover edge of pie crust for about the first 20 minutes with tin foil.

True Love Apple Pie

True Love Apple Pie

Categories: Apples, cakes and family deserts, family memories, friends, Memories, nostalgic, Pie, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dandelion Wine Making Preparation Begins part 1

I have several friends who over the years have made their own wine, schnapps , sherry’s and flavored liquors. I just never thought that I would be one of them. About a year ago I realized that I use a lot of wine to cook with. So I decided to make my own for half the cost. I do not regularly drink red wine as I am allergic to something in the tannin’s of the red grapes but love a lighter and sweater white wine with dinner or when out with friends. So why not make home-made wines to drink and cook with. My home-made wines would keep me from getting allergic headache  and would still be pleasant to cook with. West Virginia is also over run with natural wild ingredients  that cost very little to make into a favorable wines.

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

The idea for making home-made wine deepened this Christmas holiday when a friend shared some of her wonderful apple liquor with us.  When I asked where she bought it I was given a typical Hill Billy response… ” At the getten place”. Meaning that she was not telling me who or where the wonderful “hooch” coming from. Years of moon shining  and prohibition in these mountains still make folks around here suspicious of sharing this kind of information.When I asked if their was more for sale I just got a laugh and a ” Maybe”… meaning if I had enough money I might be able to get some but mostly I should just enjoy the evening and forget about getting my hands on this hand-made treasure.  This just sparked the fire and the thoughts began, “I can make this, I am sure I can do this”!

After talking with several people I have compiled at list of what a  beginner wine maker needs and what is just handy to have to make two simple wines over the course of the summer. I will include this list at the bottom of this post. The two wines I hope to make are Dandelion wine with out a grape base and Elderberry wine.  I see no reason to make myself sick so I will not use grapes in these two versions. I also will make about 5 gallons of Apple cider vinegar with the same ingredients and containers. I also find that using fresh and  free ingredients makes this project cost-effective. This project should only cost a dollar or two a bottle when done with an end result of 10 gallons of wine and 5 gallons of vinegar.

I also recommend reading about fermentation and what you can achieved just in your own kitchen. I have found vast amounts of help through reading and on the internet that will help me as I progress through this new adventure.

me with experimental wine bottle

me with experimental wine bottle

This is  a photo of all the basic equipment is all I need to start a small batch of home-made wine.

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

In this photo I have two five gallon buckets, a five gallon carboy with filtered water, 10 feet of 3/8 inside diameter vinyl  hose, One universal stopper for carboy with hole for air lock, air lock, 3 packages of yeast, 12 bottles with screw tops.  The three other items that you may want to add to your list that I still need to pick up sometime in a future shopping trip are.

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

This additive stops fermentation so you can add sweeteners if the wine is to dry.

these tablets are added to preserve the wine and prevent bacteria growth to keep wine from turning to vineger

Campden tablets

The Campden tablets prevent wild yeast and bacteria from growing in the wine. This will stop mold growth and wine from turning to vinegar. A must have if you are making hard apple cider and many grape wines with low acid content.

Hydrometer and tube

Hydrometer and tube

Then lastly a Hydrometer to measure the alcohol/ sugar content of the wine so you have enough sugar for fermentation and to track of the amount of finished alcohol per batch.

With all of this new never used equipment I would say I have about 100 dollars in everything inculding shipping. Some of these things we got local and some we ordered on-line. I am making one more trip to a local store in the next couple of weeks to get the campden tablets and hydrometer for the dandelion wine. The potassium-sorbate I will not need until I make the Elderberry wine later in the summer, it will needed when I add additional sweeteners and I hope to use organic honey for my sweetener.dandelionwine

I am still learning and with friends from a local winery maybe I can skip some of the most common made mistakes and share them here with all of you. So tomorrow I head over to Lambert’s vintage wines to get some first hand tips and recommendations from a family that started their vineyard in their kitchen a decade ago and now have a thriving business. I hope  to share some of the beautiful photos from their winery and interview one of the owners. Maybe by the fall I will have a well stocked shelf of home make wines like these and some custom labels to go one them.

Categories: apple cider vinger, Apples, Elderberry, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, organic foods, wine, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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