Graves Mountain Harvest Festival

Saturday was a beautiful autumn day in Central Virginia. What better way to enjoy these last warm, sunny days than in the foothills of Shenandoah National Park at an apple harvest festival?

Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, VA, was our host for the day. This apple harvest is a true local gem because it takes extra care to ensure that local culture and traditions are displayed prominently. On hand were local photographers, musicians, and crafters. What stood out most, however, was all of the delicious food. In the barns were big bowls of brunswick stew, apple butter donuts, and cornbread. Throughout the grounds were demonstrations.

Apple butter is a thicker, more concentrated cousin to apple sauce. It is made by slow cooking apples until the sugars caramelize, which accounts for the dark color. It was traditionally a family affair to produce as it is very time and labor intensive (keeping the fire going, stirring the apple butter, preparing the apples to go into the pot). It has a longer shelf-life than apple sauce when it comes to storage, which is the main benefit of it – oh yeah, and it’s delicious!

Pork rinds are fried pig skin. The skin is rendered, dried, and then fried until it puffs up. It is amazing to watch these hard chips of pork skin go into a cauldron of hot oil and then come out just a minute later this light, airy crisp.

There was also an old ice cream machine – but we’re all familiar with what that is!

All the apples onsite made us anxious for our next big trip – canning!

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