Valley Bounty: Apples

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a man named John Chapman, born in Leominster and raised in Longmeadow, became famous for planting hundreds of apple trees throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. Johnny Appleseed, as he came to be known, wasn’t doing this just for the love of apples—planting the trees gave him legal ownership of the frontier land they were planted on, which he was able to then resell to westward-moving white settlers. Apples grown from trees he planted did not much resemble the fruit we enjoy today; they were smaller, more bitter, and mostly used for making hard cider (which was safer to drink than water—the average settler drank around 10.5oz of cider every day).

Today, we’re lucky to have much easier access to juicy apples perfect for eating. If you’re looking for new ways to enjoy local apples, try making some apple butter: simmer 6 sliced apples, ¼ cup sugar, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the juice of a lemon in about 2 cups of water until the apples are soft (about 45 minutes). Puree with an immersion blender, let cool, and enjoy on toast, biscuits, or just with a spoon.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)