By Bette Lee Crosby / September 14, 2012

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.

About the author

Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby's books are "Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances." - Midwest Book Review The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby's writing is, "A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures." Samantha from Reader's Favorite raves, "Crosby writes the type of book you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down." "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write." It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: TheRoyal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal, Reader's Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer's Choice Award.


Leave a comment:

Facebook IconTwitter IconBe My FriendBe My FriendBe My Friend
%d bloggers like this: