Molasses Making

Molasses making in haywood county nc

Molasses making in Haywood County NC

molasses boiling, molasses making, molasses stir off noun A social work activity, sometimes lasting all day, at which the juice of sorghum cane is squeezed and slowly boiled, producing a thick syrup that became a principal sweetener for traditional mountain food. The syrup was sometimes fashioned into candy, esp by young couples, by pulling stretches or "ropes" of it until they cooled into sticks, and eaten. 1922 Tenn Civil War Ques 18 [School] amed to run 3 mos but stoped through fodder pulling and molasses making. 1939 Campbell Play-Party 18 Clearings, log-rollings, house-raisings, corn-shuckings, bean stringings, apple peelings, 'lasses stir-offs, and quiltings, though said to be not as common as they once were, still survive. 1945 O'Dell Old Mills 4 Molasses making were gala occasions. Neighbors often helped with the tedious task. After all was finished, the last run was allowed to boil until it was ready for candy. While it cooled, all hands were washed in the nearby stream, greased thoroughly, and then each Jack chose his Jill for the candy-pulling. 1966 Frome Strangers 240 He remembered how the farmers never hired hands for wheat threshing, but would help each other; how the boys and girls shucked corn together and had a time telling tales and singing, as they did at spelling bees and "'lasses boilings." 1982 Maples Memories 12 I still got to see the "lassie making" though. We kids would be on our way from school, and Uncle Burt Ogle would be making molasses. We would see the old mule going round and round, grinding out the juice of the sugar cane, as one of the men would feed the mill. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It's the time of the year for molasses making. Pap always called molasses sorghum syrup or just plain syrup so that's what I think of it as. Pap's father, my Papaw Wade, was known for his sorghum syrup making skills. Pap told me stories about Papaw Wade going around the territory to help others with their syrup after he had finished his own. 

After I was married and started growing a garden I told Pap I wanted to grow cane and that he could teach me to make syrup. I still remember the way he laughed as he said "Why Tipper you ain't go nowhere to grow cane. It takes a whole lot to make syrup and you can't grow it on the the side of the mountain. 


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Blind Pig and The Acorn Lettuce Reporters @ Large

Sow True Seed Lettuce
Sow True Seed generously donated enough lettuce seed for me to deputize Lettuce Reporters @ Large. Eleven Blind Pig readers signed up for lettuce reporting. I guess there was twelve if you count me.

Even though I planted all of the varieties donated (Parris Island RomaineButtercrunch, and Jericho) in my spring garden, I couldn't resist taking part in the fall reporting @ large project. I planted Jericho and Buttercrunch.

I also managed to plant some Sow True Seed KaleLacinato, White Russian, and Red Russian. We enjoy eating fresh kale all through the winter in soups, salads, and sauteed and our chickens love the treat of fresh green kale during the cold winter months. 

I'm hearing tropical storm (as of this morning hurricane) Nate may decide to rain on the Sunday portion of the fall festival. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Nate waits till the fun is over, but that looks doubtful at the moment. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Storing Onions

Stringing onions for storing

We never grow onions to store through the winter. We plant the type of onions that are best eaten as spring green onions. Most of them get eaten quickly once their green sword shaped leaves shoot above the fresh spring ground.

As the garden progresses from spring veggies to summer veggies a few onions always get forgotten under the foliage of the growing plants. I usually find them as I weed in the garden or pull up the rest of the spring planting of beets and radishes. 

Since I don't have many onions to worry about storing, I get The Deer Hunter to string them up on the front porch for me. I use the onions for cooking.

Stringing up the onions on the porch always makes me think of Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were by far my favorite thing to read when I was a young girl. I remember wishing I could see the attic where Laura and Mary played between the rows of braided onions that hung down from the ceiling. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Deputizing Blind Pig and The Acorn Lettuce Reporters @ Large

Sow True Seed Lettuce

This year Sow True Seed has graciously donated extra lettuce seed so that I can deputize @ Large Lettuce Reporters during the fall gardening period. 

I grew all the lettuce types in my spring garden. (click on any of the variety names below to jump over to Sow True Seed's website to read more details about the type of lettuce)

The Parris Island Romaine came up in a sort of spoty fashion at first but quickly took off like wild fire! Although all three lettuces were good producers with a good taste, this one might have been my favorite. Although I'm thinking I might have been partial to it because of the Parris Island name and Pap having been stationed there when he was in the Marines. 

The Buttercrunch took a little longer to germinate and get started, but it did well overall. 

Jericho was the one I was most excited about growing. It's touted to be perfect for hot weather and slow to bolt when the hot temps arrive and let me tell you it lived up to the claims. The lettuce was still going strong in July. July people! Crazy how well it did. I swear it didn't begin to bolt till the middle of July. The taste was superb as well. I'm anxious to see how it does in the cooler temp if fall. If it does just as good it may be the best lettuce of all time.

So what does being a Blind Pig & the Acorn Lettuce Reporter @ Large mean? 

Sow True Seed is always looking for feedback about their seeds. You know things like plant germination, growth, production, pest issues, and most of all taste. 

To be an @ large reporter you simply need to plant the lettuce seeds, keep track of how they grow, and send your findings and observations to either me or directly to Sow True Seed. If you can snap a few photos along the way for me to share here on the Blind Pig-that would be fantastic too.

If you'd like to be deputized as an @ large lettuce reporter. Email me your name, your address, and your top 2 choices of lettuce varieties above and I'll send you some seeds!

Email me


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Look the Beans

My life in appalachia look the beans

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Look transitive verb To examine (food), inspect for dirt or foreign objects.
1982 Slone How We Talked 62 Some of the greens we used were not cooked, but eaten raw. They were "looked" (checked for bugs and rotting spots), washed, sprinkled with salt and wilted or "killed" by pouring real hot grease over them. 1990 Bailey Draw Up Chair 12 I told her, "Now you be sure to look the beans," 1933 Ison and Ison Whole Nuther Lg 40 Look the beans = to inspect dried beans or other food for foreign objects. 


2017 Brasstown "Why those beans were so pretty you didn't even hardly need to look them."


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Leather Britches

Shucky beans

leather britches, leather britches beans noun
Green beans put on a thread or string (as at a bean stringing), dried in the pod by hanging on the porch or by the fireplace or by laying in trays or on scaffolds in the sun, and preserved for later boiling in water and winter consumption. 
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 292 Beans dried in the pod then boiled, "hull and all," are called leather -breeches. 1939 Hall Coll. Hazel Creek NC They'd dry their beans, yes. They'd dry leather britches beans they called it. I dry mine in the sun. My grandmother dried hers on a string, hung them up in the porch or around the fireplace and dried 'em. I still dry those leather britches beans. That's what they called 'em then. (Clara Crisp) 1957 Parris My Mts 212 It's a flour sack filled with dried beans-in-the-hull which mountain folks call "leather-britches." 1975 Jackson Unusual Words 155 Dried beans had numerous names-leather-britches, fodder beans, shuck beans, and dry hulls. 1977 Shields Cades Cove 36 These were known as "leather britches" beans, and when rehydrated, cooked, and properly seasoned, they were delicious. 1978 Montgomery White Pine Coll. III-2 Our beans we would dry them. They called them leather britches, and you'd string them on your string till you got something like a yard long, then you'd hang them in the smokehouse or somewhere when it was warm weather and they'd dry out. Then all you'd have to do in the winter if you took a notion for green beans why you could go get your leather britches and put them in the water and soak them overnight and you'd just have a  livelier spell of green beans than you ever had when they come out of the garden. 1982 Smokies Heritage 66 = long string beans strung together by needle and thread then hung upon the cabin or smokehouse wall to dry. 1986 Ogle Lucinda 50 So they would dry fruit and berries of all kinds also string green beans with a needle and thread and hang to dry. These were called fodder or leather britches. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It's been a few years since we've strung up any leather britches, but we've got them on our to do list for this summer. If you've never had leather britches they are very good, but have a completely different taste than fresh green beans or ones that have been canned. 


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It's Lay By Time

Packsaddles hide in the corn and sting you

Lay by verb phrase To leave a crop to mature after hoeing it for a final time late in the summer. When a farmer has the crop "laid by," the labors of plowing, planting, and cultivating are over, and he can sit back until the crop is ripe. 1834 Crockett Narrative 154 Having laid by my crap, I went home, which was a distance of about a hundred and fifty miles. 1905 Cole Letters 80 Soon as crops is laid by if I live expecting to here from you soon I remain your son. 1953 Hall Coll. Bryson City NC The spring of the year come, why [Jake Welch, a neighbor] went to plowing and planting his corn, and beans, and potatoes, and things-cultivating that stuff at home. He'd take care of that ontil he got through and got his crop laid by. He'd generally get it done laying by corn in the latter part of July. (Granville Calhoun) 1955 Dykeman French Broad 322 The third or fourth week in August, when crops were "laid by" and "garden truck" was at its most plentiful, families within a radius of many miles put finishing touches on their arrangement to attend camp meetings. 1976 Carter Little Tree 90 "Laying -by" time was usually in August. That was the time of the year when farmers were done with plowing and hoeing weeds out of their crops four or five times, and the crops was big enough now that they "laid by," that is, no hoeing or plowing while the crops ripened and they waited to do the gathering. 1979 Smith White Rock 47 All cornfields were hoed at least three times; the last time was called "laying it by." 1995 Weber Rugged Hills 67 "Well," someone will say, "the corn is 'laid-by' for this year." What they mean is that there will be no more hoeing or cultivation. Crops are now tall enough so that they won't be crowded out by weeds. Any weeds growing in the rows will be left where they are. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


We didn't plant any corn this year, but Granny has more than made up for it. She's planted corn at pretty much every corner of her garden and yard. Every time I think she's through with her corn planting she'll tell me she planted a few more little rows. None of her corn patches get enough sun so it's doubtful any of it will actually make, but she sure does like planting it and hoping it will. 


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Planting by the Signs Calendar - July 2017

Planting by the signs calendar for July 2017

The Deer Hunter and I wanted to get a late planting of beans, cucumbers, and squash in the ground, but between the rain and work we've only managed to get another row of Yonce Beans planted. Not sure if we'll get the cucumbers and squash in time for them to produce before fall. 

I know a few folks who live farther south than us who've had to give up their garden due to the excessive rain that's fallen in their area so I'm not complaining one bit about our rainy days. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Friday July 7 @ 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Art Walk in Murphy NC and on Sunday July 9 @ 1:00 p.m. at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville NC.

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Wild Berries in Appalachia

Wild berries in western nc

This time of the year, I start checking on the blackberries that grow wild around my house. The berries are just now beginning to ripen. A recent email from a Blind Pig reader got me to thinking about the other wild berries that grow here.


Dewberries are similar to blackberries in appearance and in taste. Dewberry brambles are smaller than their cousin the blackberry. Dewberries also have more of a twining vine look to them. 

Around my house dewberries grow in the same areas blackberries do, as in across the road from each other. Although dewberries are just as tasty as blackberries they don't usually bear the same quantity of fruit that blackberries do.

Wild blueberries 

Of all the berries blueberries are hands down my favorite. If nothing happens the ones I have planted in my yard look to hold the biggest harvest I've ever gotten. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed the birds don't find them.

Lucky for me wild blueberries also grow around my mountain holler and they're already ripe. I found the little patch above growing along the bank of Steve's (my brother) driveway. Kinda selfish, but I haven't told anyone else because I'm eating them all by myself. And I'm hoping by next year the wild blueberry bushes will multiply...then maybe I'll share my secret.


Huckleberries are similar in taste to blueberries, but they are much smaller and don't get ripe till later in the season. Huckleberries grow all around my holler, but especially up on the ridge behind my house. The little patch in the photo is growing along the trail leading from Pap and Granny's house to ours. When Chitter and Chatter were younger I used to watch for them when it was time for the school bus. They had a pretty far piece to walk. During the first weeks of school I knew they'd make pit stops at the huckleberry bushes that grow along the trail-eating their way home.

Another common berry around my house are gooseberries or at least they used to be common. I went to the bush I remembered being near Pap's garage to get a picture, but it's no where to be seen. I believe the last time the EMC trimmed they must have gotten it. Gooseberries are a greenish color and are shaped like blueberries. They have a sweet taste, but not as sweet as blueberries.

The season for wild strawberries has passed. Unfortunately I've never found many growing around our place or Pap and Granny's. There used to be a wild raspberry down below Pap's but it's been gone for years, mowed down for new driveways and homes. 

Lot's of folks gather elderberries, but I wouldn't know one if I seen one! I do wonder if they grow close by. Pap told me he was sure I could find some along the creek between here and the folk school, but I've never looked. 

Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me about the wild berries around your place. Oh and be sure to drop back by in a few days for some berry picking tips from Blind Pig readers.


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How Does My Garden Grow?

How does my garden grow June 2017
Our garden is lush and beautiful. Everything is thriving and things are beginning to produce. Fresh veggies = the best eating of the year if you ask me.

Yonce beans

Our Yonce Beans have been picked once and are almost ready for another go around.

Sow true Seed Garden
Cucumbers and squash are beginning to come in and tomatoes are green and growing. My candyroaster in the backyard may reach you folks in TN before the summer is over-its monstrous! Pumpkins and zucchini are coming along too. 

Grapes and apples in appalachia
Looks like our grape harvest will be our best ever. Apples are looking good too, although both trees have many brown leaves from the last hard freeze of spring. Hopefully we can do some pruning before next year's fruit sets.

Hope you'll tell me how your garden is fairing so far this summer. 


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