How Do You Like Them Apples?

Candy apple eater, 1980. Courtesy of Toledo Lucas County Public Library Digital Collections. Via Ohio Memory

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.

Johnny Appleseed illustration, ca. 1863. Courtesy of Ohio History Connection. Via Ohio Memory.

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), his spent a large number of years here and is honored with memorials, and the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum in Urbana.

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 Butter Making Illustration, ca. 1896. Courtesy of Wayne County Public Library. Via Ohio Memory.

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. If you like, you can also follow this recipe, also from the 19th century, and make your own apple cider. Speaking of recipes, we have a couple for apple butter that you might want to try. If you’re feeding a crowd of apple-butter-loving folks, here (page 8, column 3) is one that calls for 24 gallons of peeled apples, 45 pounds of sugar, four gallons of water, and a few other ingredients, and yields 12 gallons of appley goodness. If you decide to make this recipe, don’t forget your handy-dandy apple butter stirrer! For a smaller batch, here (page 5, column 3) are two recipes for apple butter and also recipes for apple butter cake and apple butter muffins.

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-Trausch, Digital Initiatives Librarian at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!

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