Volunteers use Libby Custer's 'secret recipe' during pie-making marathon
September 16, 2009
Teenagers, adults and retirees packed elbow to elbow along long tables in a room that smelled pleasantly of cinnamon, rolled up their sleeves for one common mission: to make a lot of apple pies.
These volunteers were helping bake apple pies for the Historical and Archeological Society of Fort Riley, which sells the pies during the Fall Apple Day Festival on Sept. 19.
Around 45 volunteers helped bake apple pies during the 6 to 9 p.m. shift Sept. 14.
Students from Junction City High School's JROTC peeled green apples as a coffee group mixed the pie shell dough in the next room.
Other volunteers filled the pie shells with the gooey apple mixture. They scooped the mixture out of almost over-flowing bowls, packed to the brim with green apples and their sugary topping.
The simple list of ingredients was written with black permanent marker on white paper and posted around the room.
Adult volunteers assisted children and teenagers with mixing and measuring the ingredients.
It was a noisy, packed room but despite the commotion, the shelves of ready-to-bake apple pies continued to fill up.
These apple pies made by HASFR have been a fall tradition on Fort Riley since 1986. At that time there was an apple tree in the commanding general's yard, and it was decided the apples shouldn't be wasted. HASFR gathered the apples, made pies and sold them.
That year marked the first Apple Day at Fort Riley.
But legend has it, HASFR's apple pies date back much further than the mid-1980s.
"Legend says that we use Libby Custer's secret recipe," Julie Snodderly, one of HASFR's two 'pie queens' for this year's Fall Apple Day Festival, said.
Kathleen Whittle is Snodderly's co-queen.
The pie queens are the only ones allowed to see the entire apple pie recipe.
HASFR volunteers, as well as volunteers from on post and outside communities, help bake the pies throughout the week leading up to the Fall Apple Day Festival.
The JROTC from Junction City High School is scheduled to help bake pies every day during the four-day baking period.
Groups from the 1st Sustainment Brigade, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Girl Scouts and a group of employees from Picerne are also scheduled to help bake apple pies.
The pie making is done in three shifts a day: 9-11 a.m., 11-1:30 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. They are made assembly-line style.
"Some people peel, core and slice the apples, others are quality-control, then some add the topping and still others wrap the finished product," Snodderly said.
Pie making volunteers use the dining facility on Custer Hill at 7856 Drum Street. The building is no longer used as a regular dining facility but the culinary school uses it.
"It is perfect for us, and we are grateful for the garrison command for allowing us to use it," Snodderly said.
In years past the pies have been made in the Custer House or in people's homes.
For the second Apple Day, in 1987, volunteers made around 60 pies. Snodderly expects this year's volunteers will make around 1,800 pies by the end of their four-day baking period. That's an average of 450 pies a day.
"We will use 10,000 apples, 600 pounds of butter, over 15 pounds of cinnamon and over 850 pounds of sugar," Snodderly said.
The 1,800 pies will be sold Saturday, Sept. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Artillery Parade Field during the Fall Apple Day Festival.
"On Apple Day you may buy them frozen, baked, by the slice and with Baskin Robbins vanilla ice cream," Snodderly said.
Whole baked pies are $10.66, whole frozen pies are $8.52, slices are $2.66 and ala mode slices are $3.20. Plain ice cream will be sold for $1.07.
Pies could be pre-ordered by contacting Snodderly at 785-477-2677.
These pre-ordered pies are frozen and unbaked. They can be picked up Sept. 18 at the dining facility on Drum Street where they were made.
Apple pie sales at the Fall Apple Day Festival are HASFR's biggest fundraiser of the year.
"All proceeds go back into the community in the form of scholarships, donations and community events," Snodderly said.