Smoke and flames bathed a large black iron pan as Diane Schwindt poured dough into bubbling lard on Sunday.
The flames of the outdoor hearth — and the apple fritters she fried — were part of the Colonial American experience that drew crowds to the 28th Annual Long Island Apple Festival at the Sherwood-Jayne homestead in East Setauket.
Colonial dishes — from rotisserie chicken that roasts all day to apple curry soup stewed in a pot, sitting in the coals of one of three fires — showed modern visitors a glimpse of a slower-paced life.
“This is not a quick barbecue,” said Schwindt, the director of Longwood Estate, a historic house in Ridge, and a collector of colonial recipes. “This is your whole day and you’ve just invested 12 hours. You’re not going to rush. You’re going to enjoy it.”
Alexandra Wolfe, director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, which owns and maintains the colonial-era Sherwood-Jayne house and is one of the organizers of the festival, said the cooking process fascinates children.
“You see how difficult it is to prepare foods when kids are used to putting something in the microwave,” Wolfe said.
With temperatures in the 80s, the day felt more like summer than apple season as children with parents in tow tried their hands at apple grinding to make cider or made their own “apple nachos” — slices of the fruit drizzled with chocolate sauce.
After demonstrating the apple cider press — in which ground apples are squeezed in a wooden bucket to produce a stream of brown juice — Jean Benner, co-owner of Benner’s Farm in Setauket, said the process was important in colonial times.
“They didn’t have anything else for juice,” Benner said. “They had apples.”
Organizers said last year’s festival brought almost 2,000 visitors.
In addition to apples, pony rides and sack races were a big draw for children.
Christian Luhmann, 40, a psychology professor from Setauket, said he and his wife and son were “basically just getting outside and burning some energy.”
He said his wife had gotten roped into being a judge in the apple pie contest — which he said didn’t seem like a bad way to contribute.
“It’s way too hot, unseasonably warm, but other than that, it’s a good time,” Luhmann said.