Stagville Apples and Cream

The Stagville Plantation is a historic site in Durham county, once home to over 900 slaves and their owners, the Cameron family. (Stagville Center) In the early eighties, the Stagville Preservation Center published a collection of recipes entitled “Stagville Treats” in order to raise funds for the plantation’s upkeep. This collection included recipes used by the Camerons in the eighteen hundreds, found in the family’s personal papers, as well as more recent contributions submitted by board members.

 

Original Recipe

“Slice cooking apples thinly and cook until tender. Arrange in serving dish and sprinkle generously with light brown sugar. Spread a topping made with small COOL-WHIP, instant vanilla pudding, sherry to taste and fold in chopped nuts. I prefer walnuts and you may choose to add chopped dates. Serve chilled. Use institutional size can for a crowd of 30. This is not a sweet dish and goes well with meats.” (McPhaul 13)

 

Recipe Suggestions

3 Medium cooking apples*

1/2 Cup brown sugar

8oz Cool Whip

2 Cups vanilla pudding (3.4 oz instant mix prepared)

1/2 Cup chopped nuts (walnuts suggested)

1/2 Cup dried dates or golden raisins

Sherry or substitute**, to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Slice apples thinly and spread out on a greased baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until apples are tender. Allow apple slices to cool.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Chill at least one hour prior to serving. Serves 6.

 

*Apple Qualities

Apples should be firm enough to hold their shape when cooked. This is especially important because the recipe calls for the apples to be sliced thinly before being baked. A softer apple will disintegrate when mixed with the other ingredients.

Common varieties of apples that would work well for this recipe include Granny Smith for a tart dish, or Fuji for a sweeter result. Stay away from Golden Delicious, which tends to soften too quickly.

 

**Non-Alcoholic Sherry Substitute

Apple Cider Vinegar is a good sherry substitute for this recipe, diluted with equal parts water. Other acidic fruit juices, such as orange, lemon, or pineapple juice, would also work well.

 

Calhoun Heritage Apple Varieties

Below are some of the heritage varieties that would work well with this recipe.

 

Horse

“Well, some people claim they’re called that because that’s their best usage, feeding them to horses. That’s an ungenerous appraisal – the thing is, Horse is NOT a fresh-eating apple, not at all… When cooked, that tartness and sourness disappears and you don’t have to add extra sugar. They hold their shape well while cooking. If you let them ripen and soften for a while, they’re a little tastier, if you enjoy that “sour apple” flavor.”

Larry Stephenson Carroll County, MS

 

Collins June

“Very high quality, but not much color…appearance is a big problem in Zone 8 (hot nights…) But…eating quality of fruit is high, because we essentially bake them right on the tree…” Mr. Lawson says that Jim Thompson and Major Collins knew each other well and often worked together. In one of Lawson Nursery’s catalogs they recommend it as a good cooking apple.

Herbert Childress, Dunnville, KY

 

Lacy

“Medium size, yellow back-ground with red stripes. More tart than the Yellow Horse apple. Good for eating fresh, canning, cooking, and drying. The Lacy is also a sweet apple. It is sweet and tart at the same time. My Grandparents own one Lacy apple with bore a small crop last year. It is 7 feet tall now. The Lacy apple has been grown for a long time as my grandmother remembers her grandparents growing Lacy apples.”

Tim Vaughn, Monroe, NC

 

Raleigh

“Dear Mr. Calhoun: Thanks for writing me in regards to the old Raleigh apple tree. We don’t know much about the old apple trees. My mother said that the apple trees were on the property when she and Dad married in August 1940, and that the apple trees were old then. She says they are good any way you want to fix them— cook, fry, make apple butter, eat raw, etc.”

Mrs. Rose, Hampton, VA

 

Rusty Coat

“Another old apple variety my grand-parents [had] was the old Rusty-Coat. It was very hard and not easily bruised, but it could be cooked and eaten if there was a good strong knife.”

Lester Allen, Greensboro, NC

 

Wilson

“Felix Wilson was the cultivator of this apple he came up with it, while rafting hoss down the Tug River story goes he seen it hanging on the river bank, he takes it home and plants it on his farm on sand gap in Wayne Co W.VA people came from near and far to get grafts from his tree. It cooks up so well makes great pies and apple butter. Good to snack on as well.”

Sidney Wilson Jr, Genoa, WV

 

Sources

McPhaul, Jane Hobbs. Stagville Treats. Stagville Preservation Center Corporate Board, 1982.

Stagville Center. The African American Community at Stagville. The African American Community at Stagville, Stagville Community Center, 199-.

Mrs. Elliott’s 1870 Recipe “Green Apple Pie”

 

In the United States, the apple pie enjoys a near sacred position. “The apple,” as nineteenth century Virginian pomologist James Fitz writes, “is our democratic fruit.” [1] 

Recipes for apple pie may be found in the nation’s earliest cookbooks, but today, in the spirit of Creighton Lee Calhoun’s Old Southern Apples and home in Pittsboro, North Carolina, let us consider a recipe for “Green Apple Pie” found in Mrs. Elliott’s Housewife: Containing Practical Receipts in Cookery. [2, 3] Mrs. Elliott’s Housewife was published by Sarah A. Elliott of Oxford, North Carolina in 1870 and is thought to be North Carolina’s first cookbook.

Her recipe is typical of the period, without the contemporary attention to ingredient quantities or cooking times.  Elliott instructs her reader to: “Peel tart apples and stew them nicely, strain them through a net strainer, season them while hot with butter or cream, flavor with nutmeg, and put them on a crust that has been baked in a pie plate. Always have sweet milk to drink with apple-pie.”

For those that prefer to bake with a bit more instruction, I recommend Nancie McDermott’s, “My Apple Pie Recipe, Easy as Pie” and her book Southern Pieswhich provides three more southern apple pie variations. [4]

Looking for recommendations for old southern pie apples? Letters from readers to Creighton Lee Calhoun suggest baking with the following heirloom apples, many of which are preserved at Horne Creek Farm and the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard in Pinnacle, North Carolina.

Fay Farrow wrote Calhoun in 1993 to document the Sam Apple: “It is a yellow with red streaks on it it gets ripe in July & August. It is a very good apple for eating fresh drying or making pies.”
  • Black Limbertwig
  • Blacktwig – Robert L. Dudney wrote: ” “Keep well, good eating, cider, pies and most any use.”
  • Carolina Red Junes
  • Disharoon
  • French Pippin
  • Grimes Golden
  • Kinnards Choice
  • Mammy
  • McLean – Wynee Wally wrote: “I wanted to tell you my McLean apple is wonderful. Its flavor is just what I like in an apple. I’ve made pies, baked, made jelly and it has always turned out so good. In fact, this year, it was so good I’ve kept some in the raw and I let every night. They might not last too long the way I like to eat them.”
  • Mitchell
  • Ophir – Nellie L. Williams wrote: “This apple did not require much sugar when used for cooking and made the best tasting and most beautiful pinkish color applesauce and a very good pie.”
  • Pound Pippin
  • Red Summer Rambo
  • Rusty Coat
  • Sam – Fay Farrow wrote: “It is a very good apple for eating fresh drying or making pies.”
  • Summer Banana
  • Summer King
  • Summer Orange
  • Wilson
Nellie L. Williams wrote Calhoun in 1987 regarding an old apple tree on the property of Mr. and Mrs. Saunders who lived in the Ophir community near the Uwharrie Mountains. Williams noted that the Ophir apple made a “very good pie.”

Works Cited

[1] Hatch, Peter J. “The Royal Family of Our ‘Democratic’ Fruit: Thomas Jefferson’s Favorite Apple.” Thomas Jefferson Foundation, January 1995. https://www.monticello.org/house-gardens/center-for-historic-plants/twinleaf-journal-online/thomas-jefferson-s-favorite-apple/.

[2 ]Calhoun, Creighton Lee. Old Southern Apples: A Comprehensive History and Description of Varieties for Collectors, Growers, and Fruit Enthusiasts, 2nd Edition. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011.

[3] Elliott, Sarah A. Mrs. Elliott’s Housewife: Containing Practical Receipts in Cookery. New York: Hurd & Houghton, 1870.

[4] McDermott, Nancie. Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan. Chronicle Books, 2010.