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aking apple butter
is a hallmark of
Appalachian cooking.
With so many varieties
of apples available in
the mountainous region during the
fall, farmers and other locals always
looked for different ways to preserve
the abundance nature provided. Aside
from eating them fresh picked, home
cooks dried and fried them, pressed
them into cider, and stored them in
cellars. For a real treat, they canned
jars of apple butter, a sweet, smooth
spread that’s similar to applesauce
but cooked much longer for a thick,
jamlike consistency.
Like syrup making and hog
killing, preparing apple butter was
a seasonal community event. For
generations, families and friends
gathered around large copper kettles
set over open fires and shared in the
laborious, daylong work of peeling,
coring, chopping, seasoning, and
boiling apples. After many hours
of tending the pots, they were
rewarded with delicious caramelcolored apple butter.
Walter Harrill of Imladris Farm in
Spring Mountain, North Carolina, is
well acquainted with this tradition. He
lives and works on land that his greatgrandparents settled, and he grew up
watching his grandmother make apple
butter in her own kettle on the stove.
Today, Walter continues the custom
with a few modern adaptations.
“While we’ve changed the copper
kettle over the fire to a stainless steel
steam kettle, the process is still the
same,” he says. “I use mixed varieties
of apples cooked for 16 hours or so
with spices.”
Even though there is no longer a
crowd gathered around the fire, he has
found a way to make the community
a part of his process by purchasing
apples from neighboring farms. “The
methods have changed,” Harrill says,
“but it still takes hard work, time, and
patience to turn out a good batch—
and it’s worth every minute.”


falling for

The fruit of Appalachian traditions, this
sweet ingredient is a baker’s best friend.

Apple Butter Cobbl
with Drop Biscuits

Active 25 min. Total 1 hour, 10 min

2 lb. Granny Smith apples
(about 4 apples), peeled and
cut into ½-inch wedges
2 lb. Honeycrisp or Gala apples
(about 4 apples), peeled and
cut into ½-inch wedges
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
(recipe, left)
1 tsp. lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. fre
(from 1 large lemon)
½ tsp. salt

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
10 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup whole milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

COMING 10.10.21

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

Active 25 min. Total 25 min., plus 10 hours

North Carolina farmer Walter Harrill follows
his grandmother’s method
for making apple butter, which he sells ($8
for a 12-oz. jar,
The recipe, adapted here, is best made using
a mix of sweet and tart apples.

5 lb. mixed apples, peeled
and cored (such as Gala,
Granny Smith, Honeycrisp,

1. Cut apples into 1-inch cubes; place apple
and 1½ cups of the sugar in a 6-quart slow
Cover and cook on high 6 hours.

1. Prepare the Cobbler Filling
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss togeth
4 ingredients in a large bowl. Melt
in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over m
high. Add apple mixture (skillet wi
very full), and cook, stirring often,
apples are almost tender and syrup
thickens, about 10 minutes.
2. Remove apple mixture from he
in Slow-Cooker Apple Butter, lemon
lemon juice, and salt. Bake 15 minute
placing a baking sheet on oven rack
directly below skillet to catch any dr
3. Prepare the Drop Biscuits:
While the filling bakes, whisk toge
flour, baking powder, salt, and
3 tablespoons of the sugar in a larg
bowl. Using a pastry blender or for
cut butter into flour mixture until
texture resembles coarse meal wit
some pea-size pieces.


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