Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Apple a Day

Today Beth and I picked about 9 bushels of apples in just two hours time, with 1 bushel being donated to the local Food Finders organization. These apple trees were on a local farm where the apples were going to go to waste and a friend invited us to pick. We are hoping to turn a good part of these into cider to freeze for use through the fall and winter months. there is nothing as good as homemade unadulterated cider.

The trees were absolutely loaded with apples, with a large variety of types. I sampled quite a few different apples. At one time in our nation's history apples and apple trees actually became despised by "upstanding citizens". The reason was that apples were grown and used primarily to make hard cider whiskey, also known as "applejack". The benevolent Johnny Appleseed we learned about in grade school was actually very fond of hard cider, and made it his mission to plant the old, gnarly apples, not for eating, but rather for the purpose of making hard cider known as applejack. During the 1600 - 1850 years it was the most popular alcoholic drink in America. Even children and Presidents drank it at breakfast and dinner.

What ultimately led to the demise in the popularity of hard cider consumption was the Temperance movement. Because the Temperance movement was religiously based, many of the church going farmers gave up their drinking of apple cider. Many of them even went so far as to chop down the apple trees on their farms.

When Prohibition finally became the law, this marked the death knell for hard cider. Today, very few people in our country have ever tasted hard cider. I remember in high school that my senior agricultural and business class tried to make a batch of hard cider. Each week we would taste test the "nectar of the gods". We forgot about it over a school vacation, and returned to find it had turned to vinegar.

although we are not planning on making hard cider, we hope to turn these bushels into sweet cider, cut apples for pies, and applesauce, along with keeping some in the basement for eating over the next few months.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away indeed. I wonder if the saying "a glass of applejack a day keeps the doctor away" was in vogue 150 years ago?

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