Welcome to another Southern Sunday by Alle Wells – if like me, you are enjoying Alle’s stories of Southern Living, why not stop over at new website and say hi – here is her website  You can also find Alle on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter. Follow her everywhere and you’re sure to delight in looking at all things Southern through her eyes. Today Alle is drying apples…so read on


When I think of apples, I’m transported to simpler times in life that comfort me. A big, red apple reminds me new beginnings like the alphabet chart on the very first day of school. A is for Apple. Apples represent good health. Recent studies have shown that an apple a day may actually contribute to lifelong digestive health. Apples also remind me of the change in seasons and candy apples at the county fair. Sometimes the whiff of cooked apples takes me back home. When my children were small, I cooked according to the seasons and apple treats were a staple in the house this time of year. One year, I baked an apple pie just before a September storm blew in. We didn’t have electricity that night so we ate the pie for dinner by candlelight. My daughter remembers that apple pie as the best pie I ever made. Sometimes the simplest times evoke the sweetest memories.

Fried apple pies were an important part of family history in the North Carolina Central Piedmont region where many mill workers’ children grew up. Whenever someone mentions the old days, a sweet memory of fried apple pies works its way into the conversation. In my upcoming book, Mill People, young Jesse spends a day with her Mamaw. During their visit, they make fried apple pies. Here is a little preview of Mill People and Jesse’s visit with Mamaw:

Mamaw goes out to the pantry and returns with a battered, blue speckled crock. The brown, withered apples inside look like shoe leather, but they remind me of the delicious fried pies to come.

I pull one from the crock and ask, “How do you do this? I mean, make apples look like this.”

 She shakes the crock and the apple slices fall into her favorite mixing bowl, the one with the chipped edge. “Well, I use the little yellow apples that grow on the tree in the backyard. They come ready around late September.”

Mamaw points out the hand-crank apple peeler mounted on the Hoosier cabinet. “I peel them on that handy-dandy peeler and slice them real thin. Then I string them up with a good piece of string, like the kind that comes from the mill, and hang them next to the woodstove. When they feel soft and dry, I put them in this old crock until I’m ready to use them.”

That’s the way Jesse’s grandmother dries apples. I dry them modern way, although I admit that Mamaw’s way seems easier and more fun. I chose Gala apples, similar to the little yellow ones that grow in Mamaw’s backyard. I peeled mine by hand although it would be easier to use one of those handy-dandy, antique apple peelers. I use a mandolin to slice the apples three-eighths of an inch because I’m too technical to decipher what “real thin” means. The prepared slices float in a bowl of water [with?] a little citric acid so they won’t turn brown. Mamaw didn’t have to blanch her apples, but my modern recipe recommended blanching before drying. So I did, and then I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Ten hours later, I had four quarts of perfect dried apples ready for a batch of Mamaw’s fried apple pies!

Thanks for joining me for another Southern Sunday. Mill People will be released later in the fall.

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  1. Elle Thornton September 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Alle, This column made my mouth water and I started sniffing the air, hoping for the scent of apples off the tree. I’m a confirmed apple lover: I eat five a day, starting with breakfast. Recent favorites: Fuji and Golden Delicious, both in the biggest size. Honey Crisp will be in soon. Oh boy!

    • Alle Wells September 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      Wow! You must be the healthiest person on earth! Salute to apple lovers!

      Thanks for commenting,

  2. nancynaigle September 16, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Oh my goodness! Yum! My mother-in-law used to make the best fried applejacks. I’ve tried to imitate them but that ol’ gal just had the magic touch. I’m thinking of trying my hand at apple butter. Anyone have any tips or tricks for that??
    Hugs and happy apples! 😉

    • Alle Wells September 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Hi Nancy! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I agree that some people just have a magic touch that can’t be duplicated. Sorry, I’ve never made apple butter. I hope you can find someone who has.

      Your friend,

  3. Juliette Hill September 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    Thank you, Alle, for yet another great Southern Sunday! I really enjoyed learning how to make dried apples. Your recipe sounds yummy! I could really feel your daughter’s memory of the stormy night (no electricity) and remembering that night’s apple pie as the best one you ever made, eaten by candlelight.

    My grandmother from Georgia was up visiting my family years ago and we took her to a fast food restaurant in Maryland that just happen to have fried apple pies. Even though, theirs was far from the delicious homemade ones that she had made, she had to have one every day that she was visiting us.

    When I think of fried apple pie, I have fond memories of that special summer visit with her. Those were the best times!

    I can’t wait to read “Mill People.”
    Thank you, Alle and thank you, Bette!

    • Alle Wells September 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      Hi Juliette!
      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing that great story! I’m glad that it brought back good memories for you.

      We’ll talk soon!

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