All I wanted for my birthday was to make apple cider. So last weekend we picked a bushel and a half of apples and spent Saturday turning most of that into about two gallons of cider and a whole lot of apple sauce. This weekend I still had two pecks (that’s half a bushel or a pretty big box) left. So I raided smittenkitchen for ideas and this is what came out of it all:
Another thing that came out of it was a lot of curiosity about apples. Here’s what came out of that, from the apple’s perspective of course:
I come from Pilgrim stock. Yes, that’s right. Family legend has it that our ancestors came to Boston way back in the 1600s with some of the first colonists and we’ve been here ever since. There are still a whole lot of us in New England. Oh we’re Northeasterners alright. Some of my aunties and uncles, well sure they’re a bit difficult when you first meet them, what with the way they can just suddenly show up with a fungus or a disease if you don’t handle ‘em right. They take getting to know. But once you spend some time with them you realize that underneath it all even the bitingest ones have some sweet. And if you take care of them, they turn right back around and take care of you all through winter with ciders, sauces, tarts, pies, muffins. You can store some of ‘em in the cellar just plain and they’ll pull through for you all the way til spring if you treat ‘em right. Yup they’re good New England neighbors. Leave you alone most of the time but there when you need ‘em.
Oh but even though we’ve got some stubborn Roxbury Russets in the family who won’t let go (hang on to that claim as first apples brought to the New World and will not leave Roxbury ever) even though we got some of them, doesn’t mean we’re all so provincial. No, we’ve made it pretty much all around this country. You can find us in every single state. Why, there are so many of us out in Washington that people are always thinking we came in through the west coast. And it would make sense, because far as I can tell from what the family tells me, the very very first strain of us came from Asia– Kazakhstan to be precise. A few seasons back we made a family trip back to the beautiful Kazak forests where they think we’re from. I’ve never seen such a beautiful place in all my life.
But it was a long time ago that my part of the family left those forests. Thousands of years ago probably, judging by where we’ve shown up in legend and history. My New England relatives don’t like to talk about it much—feel like it’s too boastful. But I’ll tell you straight that golden apples are said to have started the Trojan War and wooed a Norse goddess. And of course we’re all a bit ashamed of the role that the apple on the Tree of Knowledge played in the Genesis story, but there’s no hiding that one. Sometimes you just have to own up to your family’s skeletons and move on.
Mostly I’m proud of my ancestry and all 7500 branches of the family out there now. Starting way back in those wonderous Kazak forests, people have found us interesting and valuable enough to be worth carting all across the world from Turkey to China, Macedonia to Argentina, and Boston to Washington. They found us worth waiting four or five years for to fruit. Some people took us because we were tough enough to stand the winter. Some people took us because we were sweet enough to press into cider. And some people, like the legendary John Chapman (you may know him as Johnny Appleseed) even thought ahead and planted us where they knew people would live later. Whatever their reasons I’m grateful to all those people for helping us along and I’m glad to be part of such a prolific family.