[NAFEX] Pomona time again

mike tomlinson tugger at netreach.net
Sun Jul 7 06:40:53 EDT 2002

This is my first submission to Pomona so I am not sure of the format. 
 I'm an heirloom apple collector and cider maker in SE PA with over 150 
varieties of pre 1900 mid atlantic apple varieties ranging from 1.5 to 6 
years in the ground.  
Here's a piece on cider.  Its the first of a several part piece so if 
you want more for later editions I can send you those also.  I'm putting 
together a book on heirlooms and other things apple which has the 
working title of "A bushel of apples". thanks for the consideration.
Mike Tomlinson

    Much of what I have learned about cider and its production and the 
enjoyment of drinking
cider has come from members of NAFEX; the books by Annie Proulx and Ben 
Watson; Dick
Dunn's Cider Digest at cider at talisman.com; the folks at Cornell 
University both in Ithaca and
Geneva; from visiting and drinking with English cider makers; and from 
the experimentation that
one must do when learning about this almost forgotten (in the USA) 
beverage. Possibly it is
prophetic that this article is being written on July 4th.

    Cider / hard cider / scrumpy / apple wine all are the same and all 
are different.  This
confusion is, in part, courtesy of our governmental bureaucracy, the 
temperance movement of the
late 19 and early 20th centuries, the beer and (grape) wine industries 
and other forces. This short
article will not be able to clear the confusion and in fact may not even 
be able to clear the cider
but this doesn't really matter. What does matter is the stimulation of 
an interest in making and
drinking cider.
A Brief History of Hard Cider and Apples
    First a definition: cider is the fermented juice of crushed apples.
    When and where man discovered apples is not known. Whether this 
event predates the
Garden of Eden is not clear and whether or not it was even an apple that 
Eve picked in the
Garden is in question.  It seems that this fruit was not know in the 
Middle East at the time the
Book of Genesis was written and only at a later time did writers come to 
call it an apple.  It is
reported that no where in the Bible is an apple mentioned. But at some 
point man did observed
the impact of overripe fruit on bees and other insects and it did not 
take long for him to observe in
himself that overripe fruit had a good taste and warmed the heart and 
body.  Hence the beginning
of alcoholic fruit juices and cider.
    Scientists and other researchers now believe that the apple 
originated in the early days of
history in the mountains near the Baltic Sea and spread along various 
trade routes. Several
thousand years ago when the Romans arrived in England and France they 
found that the residents
were happily consuming cider, a practice continuing to this day in those 
countries. Other
beverages that we drink today - coffee, tea and chocolate - only came to 
Europe relatively late in
the middle ages well after cider was established and, as imports, were 
far beyond the means of the
average person. For whatever public health reasoning, there was wide 
spread suspicion and
aversion to water, either for drinking or bathing. Physicians of the 
middle ages advised against
consumption of raw fruit.  All these factors plus its low cost of 
production led to the creation and
consumption of fermented cider.

American Apple History
    Colonists brought to our shores their thirst for cider and their 
apple seeds and scions and
planted many small family orchards. Apples were not native to our 
country with only one form of
crab apple having been identified by our early botanists. Seeds and 
scions/cuttings were easier to
transport than trees and had a better survival rate when crossing the 
ocean on board ships.  And
as apples do not reproduce true to seed, cuttings became more desirable 
to transport to these
shores in the mid 1700's and early 1800's as efforts were made to 
reproduce desired European
varieties.  S. W. Fletcher in A History of Fruit Growing on Pennsylvania 
quotes a European
visitor who told of the building of a colonial home in 1685 where he 
said, "They first fix upon the
spot where they intend to build the house, and before they begin it, get 
ready a field for an
orchard, planting it immediately with apples chiefly, and some pears, 
cherries and peaches."  
Apples and cider were so important to the beginning of our country that 
Benjamin Franklin (who
carried a crab tree walking stick) and others,  including John Bartram, 
established the American
Philosophical Society in 1743 whose charter and mission called for 
members to "..communicate to
each other, their observations, experiments, etc...." regarding  
"Improvements of vegetable
juices, as Cyders, Wines, Etc. ."  And Fletcher again reports that John 
Taylor of Virginia stated, "
Good cider would be a national saving of wealth, by expelling foreign 
liquors; and of life, by
expelling the use of ardent spirits.  Apples are the only species of 
orchards at a distance from
cities capable of producing sufficient profit and comfort to become a 
considerable object to a
farmer.  The apple will furnish some food for hogs, a luxury for his 
family in winter, and a
healthy liquor for himself and his laborers all the year."  In 1762 
Thomas Chapman, a
wine-cooper published the Cyder - Maker's Instructor, Sweet-Maker's 
Assistant, And
Victualler's and Housekeeper's Director in Three Parts in which the 
first part, "Directs the
Grower to make his Cyder in the Manner foreign Wines are made; to 
preserve its Body and
Flavour; to lay on a Colour, and to cure all its Disorders, whether bad 
flavour'd, pick'd, oily, or
ropy."  His recipe, in part, called for the adding of yeast to a 
hogshead of cider, mixing in some
jalap ("an excellent Purger of serous and watry Humours" according to 
the History of Druggs
by Monfieur Pomet, published in 1709) and letting it ferment for about 2 
weeks, cleaning the
bunghole every morning with your finger. This recipe, with the addition 
of raisins and sugar,
became known in the 1800's as New England hard cider.
    In the first 200 years of our country apples orchards sprang up 
everywhere and varieties
blossomed. Where and when cider, and the fermentation of it, began as 
indicated above, is lost in
the fog of folk history but our colonists knew a good thing and thought 
no ill of cider with a kick.
Cider was almost a fool proof product. If the cider fermented one way it 
was good to drink; if it
went to vinegar it was used for cooking and other household purposes. It 
was transportable and
in barrel form, was for a time, a standard of barter and exchange or an 
asset to be left in a will.  In
some parts of the colonies laws regarding the establishment of claims to 
land required the planting
of orchards.  Beginning in Northwestern Pennsylvania, John Chapman 
(1774-1845), who was
known as Johnny Appleseed,  planted apple nurseries and had as his 
principal source of income
the sale of seedling stock to settlers. He would gather seed from  cider 
mills, travel to and beyond
the established frontier (from Pennsylvania through Ohio and further 
west) and plant in the wilds a
nursery of seedlings encircled with a brush fence with the product being 
ready for sale in 3-5 years
when civilization caught up. It may be heretical today in light of the 
Johnny Appleseed myth that
has sprung up but consider, in fact, that Chapman was bringing to the 
frontier the means of
establishing rights to property and a way to make alcohol and not a 
dessert fruit.
    A search of the Pennsylvania Gazette for the period 1766-83 for the 
word "apple"
produced many occurrences of the word (564) and included numerous 
listings of properties within
a days travel of Philadelphia that were for lease or sale and  included 
orchards of from 50 to over
1000 trees. (The author is sure that a similar search of the press from 
the same time period in
Boston, New York and Richmond would generate similar results.) As ours 
was primarily an
agrarian society almost everyone had a small orchard in back of their 
home from which they made
their own cider. The aforementioned search revealed only a few orchards 
where specific varieties
of apples were mentioned. However by 1813 Poulson's American Daily 
Advertiser on Oct. 8th
ran an ad for the Burlington (NJ) Nursery that listed some 47 different 
American table apples,10
English table apples, 9 French Table apples, 17 American cider apples,  
and 10 English cider
apples  And in 1828 Bartram's Botanic Garden Periodical Catalogue had 
available over 80
different apple varieties at $.25 each or $18.75 per 100.
    What about beer? According to Waverly Root & Richard de Rochemont in 
their book
Eating in America, (Wm. Morrow, NY 1976) apples were also made into a 
beer. An old recipe
went as follows: "Peel your apples and dry the peelings in the sun or by 
the stove or hearth.  Put
them in a crock and add enough boiling water to cover them.  Cover the 
crock and let it sit one
or two days until all the flavor comes out of the peelings.  You may add 
some sugar if you want."
    It was only in the mid 1800's when shipping agricultural goods by 
rail became the norm
that apples changed from being primarily a beverage product to being 
mainly cooked or eaten out
of hand. The inability of certain varieties to stand up to the rigors of 
shipment without bruising or
rotting led to the demise of many familiar varieties of fruit. Truck 
transportation in the early
twentieth century compounded this trend.
    Initially even the 18th century temperance movement thought well of 
cider and said in Dr.
Benjamin Rush's publication Moral and Physical Thermometer "that 
consumed in moderate
quantities and only at meal times it brought about ' Cheerfulnefs, 
Strength and Nourfifment.' "
But times change and movements evolve and in the late 1800's as the 
production of beers came
into being in the US and the temperance movement gained more power and 
tightened its grip on
our drinking habits farmers stopped making cider, tore out their 
orchards and replaced them with
other crops. In many cases these crops were grains that were used for 
making beer which to many
seemed less harmful. In combination with the invention of the bottle cap 
in the late 1800's, cider
almost disappeared from our culture.

For more on the history of hard cider see:
    the aforementioned authors and:
    Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture, and Gastronomy: Peter Wynne 
    Food & Feast in Tudor England; Allison Sim, 1997, Sutton Publishing
    The Englishman's Food; Jonathan Cope, 1957

Jacquelyn Kuehn wrote:

>Dear NAFEXers,
>Just a reminder, in the middle of your busy summer season, that I am in need of articles for the
>fall Pomona.  An update on your orchard, something new you have tried--either a new variety or a
>new technique, whether it worked or not, your favorite recipes, etc.  Send them to me by email
>or regular mail; we'll all be very grateful for your information.
>Thanks so much.
>Jackie Kuehn
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