Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest–Drying Apples circa 1840s

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest–Drying Apples circa 1840s
Apple Drying c 1840

Apple Drying c 1840

Essential to being able to preserve the apples until the next harvest was preservation by drying.  One way to do this was to slice the apples and then put a string put through the slices tying a knot between slices and then hanging them to dry.  When apples were needed one could just cut the quantity needed from the string allowing the remaining apple slice to remain on the string by cutting just below a knot.  Apples could be reconstituted by boiling in water and used in the recipe as if from fresh.

Here’s a recipe from the The Home Cook Book published in 1876 in Chicago as a benefit for Home for the Friendless which offered aid to orphans and victims of domestic violence.  According to Becky Young LaBarre, a volunteer at Garfield Farm Museum’s Harvest Days, this recipe is similar to that would have been used in 1840

Dried Apple Cake ~ Mrs. G. W. Gage

One cup dried apples soaked over night, then steamed till soft; put them into a cup of molasses and simmer slowly till well cooked; when cool add one egg, one-half cup of sugar, one-half cup of butter, one-half cup of milk, two and a half cups of flour, one teaspoon soda, two of cream tartar and spice to taste.

Have you ever had a cake or pie that was made with dried apples?

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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Tradition: Making Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Tradition:  Making Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Image by Gina Marie on her website

Apple butter was another way of preserving the harvest.  Cooking the fruit down to above 50% sugar is actually a way of preserving it.  The apples were cored, cut up (peeled or unpeeled), and cooked down in the freshly pressed apple cider.  Apple butter is similar to applesauce; however, it is in the cooking down until the apples carmelize produces the lowered sugar content that actually preserves the fruit.  This carmelization is what gives apple butter its brown color.  Making apple butter in large quantities is indeed still an all-day task.  The recipe that follows still can take the good part of an afternoon.  This recipe is from

Apple Butter

Apple Butter
Image by Jennifer McGavin on

Prep Time:  15 minutes ~ Cook Time:  3 hours ~ Total Time:  3 hours, 15 minutes ~ Yield:  About 1-1/2 cups


  • 6 apples, peeled and quartered (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider or juice
  • 2 – 4 T. sweetener (agave syrup, honey, sugar)–if desired
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves


  1. Chop the apples into small chunks and place in a saucepan.  Add the apple cider or apple juice (can be reconstituted from frozen), the sweetener (if desired), ground cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, for one hour. The apples should be very mushy.
  3. Remove cover and simmer for another one to two hours. The mixture will get thick and turn dark brown, from the caramelized sugar.
  4. When you stop cooking is up to personal preference. Again, the picture shows apple butter which was cooked until it was shiny, dry and thick like jam. You can always quit while it is still soft.

You can always use apple butter as a sweetener in other recipes, in place of half the fat in quick breads or as an accompaniment to pork. Use it instead of maple syrup on pancakes, with your morning oatmeal and over cottage cheese. And of course, spread on your daily bread. It is lower in calories than dairy butter and has no fat.

Did you know that apple butter has no butter in it at all but was so named for its creamy consistency and also because it is used commonly for a spread on bread?

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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Continuing on from the previous entry regarding apple cider, another use of the apple cider was in making apple butter.  In the 1840s this was minimally an all-day endeavor, sometimes two-days, and the apples were oftentimes cooked outside in a large kettle over an open fire.  According to Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie circa 1842, it was essential not to cook the apple butter in a brass or bell-metal (bronze with 3/4 parts copper and 1 part tin) “on account of the verdigris which the acid will collect in it, and, which will render the apple butter extremely unwholesome, not to say poisonous.”  Other recipes do allow for cooking in a brass or copper kettle as apple butter cooked in an iron pot can result in poor flavor.  However, they also do address the potential for verdigris thereby rendering the apple cider not as wholesome of a product and recommends minimum consumption.

Making Apple Butter

Image from Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival on their website

The apple butter produced would keep for a year.  The basic recipe involved filling the kettle with apple cider and boiling it down until it was reduced by half.  Peeled, cored, and quartered apples would then be added to the pot as could be covered by the cider.  Eliza Leslie advises making a large quantity of apple butter resulting in a two-day process as it would take the whole day to simply stew the apples.  The apples were cooked until softened and then removed and put aside to cool as more apples were added to cook until softened.  The next day the apples and cider would be boiled again until “the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour of a very dark brown.  Twenty minutes or a half an hour before you finally take it from the fire, add powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to your taste.  If the spice is boiled too long it will lose its flavour.”

Here’s a link to an article on how to make traditional apple butter the old-fashioned way–over the open fire in a large kettle.  Copper Kettle Magic:  The Art of Making Apple Butter

Have you ever tried apple butter?

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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Traditions: Apple Cider Cups

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Apple Cider Cups
Apple Cider Cups

Image by Stephanie on her blog

What a fun way to serve up apple cider–in apple cups!  There are various instructions out there for making apple cider–here’s one that is simple to follow from  The link for homemade apple cider will take you to a recipe for a modern-day version of apple cider made by cooking down apples and adding spice directly.  This stove method differs from true apple cider that is pressed and doesn’t have added sugar.  Either way–apple cider makes a delicious fall drink served hot or cold.  Whether you buy it or make it yourself, serving it up in homemade apple cups is an especially unique way of serving.  Here’s how to make some apple cider cups from

Apple Cider Cups Recipe


  • large apples
  • lemon juice
  • apple cider, either homemade or storebought
  • optional: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice and/or star anise for garnish


Apple Cups-Cut Off Top

Cutting off the apple tops.
Image from

On a cutting board or sturdy surface, use a knife to cut off the top of the apple. Then take a paring knife and carefully outline where you’d like the “rim” of your apple cup to be. (My rims were about 1/4″ wide.) Use a spoon to carefully begin scooping out the center of your apple until you have a nice “cup”. (A melon baller also works well for this.)

Apple Cups--Outline Rim

Hollowing out the apple.
Image from

Also, if your apple doesn’t sit exactly level, take your paring knife and just slice off a few millimeters to even off the bottom to make it even. Just be careful not to let your knife cut through the bottom or sides of the apple when hollowing it out, or the cider will leak out!

Apple Cups

Apple Cups
Image from

Once you have the inside of the apples hollowed out, brush a little lemon juice over the inside of the apples (to prevent browning). Then fill with your favorite apple cider, garnish with cinnamon or spices if you’d like, and serve!

Ali’s Tip:

You could also warm the apple cups in the oven before serving. I just wouldn’t leave them in too long, or they will lose their firmness.

Certainly adds some elegance to serving apple cider!

photo sources:

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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Cider

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Cider
Apple Harvest

Apple Harvest
Wallpaper image from website

Apples are ready for harvest at the same time each year.  However, the apple harvest time varies dependent upon the apple variety.  While harvest times range from as early as mid-July to as late as early-November, it does remain that a majority of the apples are ready for harvest in September and October.

Essential to harvesting apples is preserving them for use until the next harvest.  This can be done in a variety of ways.  As I just attended Harvest Days at Garfield Farm Museum, LaFox, Illinois, just west of St. Charles, an 1840s living history farm, I thought it would be interesting to share how the apple harvest was processed in the 1840s.  While basic preservation of the apple harvest still remains the same today many of the tasks have become mechanized.  Apple cider is one of the most basic ways of preserving the apple harvest.  In the 1840s it was the primary way apples were preserved.  Apple cider was produced primarily by hand cranking the apples through the cider press.  A portion of the apple cider would also be set aside to ferment thereby creating hard cider and apple cider vinegar.  Apple cider vinegar itself would then be used to preserve other foods from the harvest.

Apple Cider Press c 1840

Apple Cider Press c 1840–Garfield Farm

In the United States the fresh pressed cider is referred to as “sweet cider”.  After pressing the apples the juice is then allowed to sit for 3-4 days after which time a sediment will form at the bottom indicating that the fermentation process has begun.  To produce sweet cider the fermentation process is stopped by extracting the clear liquid from the sediment.  This is referred to as “racking off” the cider.

If one wants to produce a dry or hard cider, the fermentation process is allowed to continue.  In about 10 days the cider will be quite frothy and foam may begin to form at the top.  Frothing is allowed to continue until it stops which means that fermentation is now complete.  “Fermentation turns all the sugars into alcohol; therefore, this cider will no longer be a sweet drink.  The cider is dry, or alcoholic cider.”  [Making Apple Cider, Univ. of Georgia]  Interestingly, in the early 18th century and up to 1825, even children drank hard cider for breakfast.  In addition, the average adult would consume about a gallon a day.  Temperence movements that began in the 1820s impacted the consumption of hard cider and even apple harvests.  It remained a popular drink into the 1840s after at which point its popularity fell.

To turn apple cider into apple cider vinegar, the cider is allowed to ferment past the stages of sweet cider and hard cider and thus becomes apple cider vinegar.  The fermentation process takes 4-6 months depending upon how strong one desires the vinegar to be.  During the fermentation process a jelly-like substance forms on top.  This is called the “mother of vinegar” which can be trapped and used to produce another batch of vinegar.  Apple cider vinegar actually has many health benefits and is better for you than a white vinegar.

Is apple cider a part of your fall harvest tradition?


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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Traditions: Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall Harvest Traditions: Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes
Image from

What a great way to start out your day with nothing other than some pumpkin pancakes?  The following recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Pancakes from  Feedback on her site for this recipe indicated a need to adjust the recipe allowing for more milk and more pumpkin.  This recipe does add more milk but not more of the pumpkin puree.  So play around with the recipe until you get the desired “pumpkin” taste.

Cooking Pumpkin Pancakes

Cooking Pumpkin Pancakes
Image from

Fluffy and Light Pumpkin Pancakes
Author: Adapted from my Martha Stewart Cookbook
Prep time:  10 mins ~ Cook time:  5 mins ~ Total time:  15 mins ~ Serves:  4
The world’s best pumpkin pancake recipe. Be sure to double or triple your batches because these go quickly!
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup low-fat milk
  • ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg
  1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg.
  3. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.
  4. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat: pour in ¼ cup batter for each pancake.
  5. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. This recipe makes six 6-inch pancakes.

Have you ever tried pumpkin pancakes before?

recipe and photos from:

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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Fall Harvest Traditions: Maple Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Maple Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Pumpkin Parfait
Image by Monica Matheny from her blog

There are quite a few pumpkin parfaits out there but this one was relatively simple to make and can also be used as a healthy fruit dip.  This recipe is from

Maple Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

Yield:  2 servings


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (regular, low-fat, or fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (unsweetened, unflavored)
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice {this recipe uses the Pumpkin Pie Spice I from Oct. 2 post}
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup lowfat granola {you can also use crumbled graham crackers if you like}
Combine yogurt, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and flax seed in small bowl. Taste and add additional syrup, if more sweetness is desired. Add 1/4 cup yogurt mixture to 2 parfait glasses. Sprinkle on a layer of granola. Add another layer of yogurt and granola. Top with remaining yogurt, sprinkle a garnish of granola on top. Best if assembled right before serving to avoid soggy granola.
Tips for clean and pretty layers:
  1. Use a glass that is relatively wide at the top. Many parfait glasses are tall and narrow, making them harder to fill without drizzling down the sides of the glass;
  2. Add the yogurt mixture a spoonful at a time down the center of the glass, then push it out to the edges of the glass and level it with the spoon; then sprinkle on the layer of granola making sure it is visible around the edges; tap the granola gently with the spoon to close as many air pockets as possible–that way the yogurt can’t as easily bleed into the granola.

Make ahead tip: Yogurt & pumpkin mixture may be combined the day before and refrigerated for faster parfait assembly for breakfast the next day.

Nutritional Info. for 1 parfait (using low-fat yogurt): 213 calories, 2.9g fat, 43.4g carbs, 5.3g fiber, 6.8g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 6

Fruit dip: This yogurt/pumpkin mixture also makes a tasty, healthy fruit dip.

images and photos from:

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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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