Here in Ohio, apples are a quintessential part of autumn. Ohio apples come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors; some are brand-new hybrids, while others have been enjoyed for hundreds of years. They can be found in grocery stores, at local farm stands, at festivals, or at pick-your-own orchards. For some lucky Ohioans, they can be found right in the backyard.
Ohio Memory has a small but varied selection of items to explore relating to this favorite fall crop, beginning with the father of Ohio apples, John Chapman. Better known as Johnny Appleseed, this early pioneer, nurseryman and conservationist introduced apples to Ohio; in fact, many of Ohio’s first apple orchards were started with saplings from Johnny Appleseed’s nurseries. Although he wasn’t an Ohioan by birth (he was originally from Massachusetts), he spent a large number of years here and is honored with memorials, the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center in Urbana and the Johnny Appleseed Heritage Center near Mifflin.
Do you like to cook with apples? In the early 20th century the Ohio Apple Institute published “Apples for Health,” which includes nutritional information as well as recipes. According to the brochure, “eat an apple before going to bed and you’ll make the doctor beg his bread.” Apples, it says, clean the teeth and gums, provide dietary fiber (which the brochure calls “roughage”), and offer numerous other health benefits. It lists menu suggestions as well as recipes, including Children’s Favorite Apple Snow, Ohio Applesauce Cake, and Fried Apples and Sausage, all of which utilize ingredients that can easily be found today.
Apple cider and apple butter have long been options for preserving apple harvests. Cider presses for home use have changed very little since the days when Johnny Appleseed pressed his cider, as you can see by viewing a picture of his 19th century cider press here. For those who like to make their own apple butter, however, the process has changed – thank goodness! – from the days of hauling wood, building fires, hefting heavy cauldrons and stirring with special utensils as depicted by photographs on Ohio Memory.
This weekend, visit your local apple seller, drive to one of Ohio’s Johnny Appleseed sites, or just grab an Ohio apple from the grocery store… and enjoy!
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!