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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.

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

Active 25 min. Total 25 min., plus 10 hours slow-cooking

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


Apple Butter C
with Drop Bis

Active 25 min. Total 1 ho

2 lb. Granny Smith app
(about 4 apples), pee
cut into ½-inch wedg
2 lb. Honeycrisp or Gal
(about 4 apples), pee
cut into ½-inch wedg
1¼ cups packed light bro
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flou
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Slow-Cooker Appl
(recipe, left)
1 tsp. lemon zest plus 2
(from 1 large lemon)
½ tsp. salt

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

COMING 10.10.21
For more food, home, and garden
stories, pick up a copy of Southern


5 lb. mixed apples, peeled
and cored (such as Gala,
Granny Smith, Honeycrisp,
or Golden Delicious)
3 cups granulated sugar,
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves

1. Cut apples into 1-inch cubes; place apple cubes
and 1½ cups of the sugar in a 6-quart slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high 6 hours.
2. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining
1½ cups sugar. Cover; cook on low until apples are
very soft, about 4 hours.
3. Place half of apple mixture in a blender.
Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to
allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over
opening. Pulse until smooth or to desired texture;
repeat with remaining apple mixture. Cool
completely. Store in an airtight container in the
f i
h M k
b t

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1. Prepare the Cobble
Preheat oven to 425°F. Tos
4 ingredients in a large bo
in a 12-inch cast-iron skille
high. Add apple mixture (s
very full), and cook, stirrin
apples are almost tender a
thickens, about 10 minutes
2. Remove apple mixture
in Slow-Cooker Apple Butte
lemon juice, and salt. Bake
placing a baking sheet on ov
directly below skillet to cat
3. Prepare the Drop B
While the filling bakes, wh
flour, baking powder, salt,
3 tablespoons of the sugar
bowl. Using a pastry blend
cut butter into flour mixtu
texture resembles coarse m
some pea-size pieces.
4. Stir in milk with a fork
mixture is evenly moistene
Cobbler Filling from oven, a
dough into 8 (about ¹/₃ cup) m
top, spacing about 2 inches a
dough mounds with melted
sprinkle with remaining 1 ta
sugar. Return to oven; bake
until biscuits are golden bro
cobbler is bubbly, 18 to 20 mi