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Old 02 July 2015, 10:47 PM
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Icon24 The Real Johnny Appleseed Brought Apples—and Booze—to the American Frontier

On a family farm in Nova, Ohio, grows a very special apple tree; by some claims, the 175 year old tree is the last physical evidence of John Chapman, a prolific nurseryman who, throughout the early 1800s, planted acres upon acres of apple orchards along America's western frontier, which at the time was anything on the other side of Pennsylvania. Today, Chapman is known by another name—Johnny Appleseed—and his story has been imbued with the saccharine tint of a fairytale. If we think of Johnny Appleseed as a barefoot wanderer whose apples were uniform, crimson orbs, it's thanks in large part to the popularity a segment of the 1948 Disney feature, Melody Time, which depicts Johnny Appleseed in Cinderella fashion, surrounded by blue songbirds and a jolly guardian angel. But this contemporary notion is flawed, tainted by our modern perception of the apple as a sweet, edible fruit. The apples that Chapman brought to the frontier were completely distinct from the apples available at any modern grocery store or farmers' market, and they weren't primarily used for eating—they were used to make America's beverage-of-choice at the time, hard apple cider.


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-c...tier-180953263
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Old 03 July 2015, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
If we think of Johnny Appleseed as a barefoot wanderer whose apples were uniform, crimson orbs, it's thanks in large part to the popularity a segment of the 1948 Disney feature, Melody Time, which depicts Johnny Appleseed in Cinderella fashion, surrounded by blue songbirds and a jolly guardian angel. But this contemporary notion is flawed [...]
What?! Next thing you know they're going to tell us princesses can't talk to animals.
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Old 03 July 2015, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
What?! Next thing you know they're going to tell us princesses can't talk to animals.
Well technically princesses can talk to animals, my cousins and I talk to our dogs all the time. And just this moring I was talking to a cat. It is if the animal can talk back that is the issue.
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Old 03 July 2015, 08:59 AM
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Yes but you live in Australia.

I liked the bit about him in Pollan's The Botany of Desire.

And, as usual, reality is stranger than fiction. From the OP:
Quote:
As a member of the Swedenborgian Church, whose belief system explicitly forbade grafting (which they believed caused plants to suffer), Chapman planted all of his orchards from seed [...]
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Old 03 July 2015, 11:44 AM
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I love this article, thank for posting it ATNM. If the reason he planted apple trees was ever explained to me I failed to register it, so I had this image of kind of a homeless wanderer planting apple trees along his route.

And I love hard cider! So now I not only understand his motivation, he's my hero!

ETA: Oh, and the Swedenborgian Church. I'd never heard of it, and now I want to go to there.
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Old 03 July 2015, 11:50 AM
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My cats and dog talk back to me all the time.

If they start doing so in English (or other human language), then I'll start thinking that it's odd.

-- as to the OP: I had heard that before, but it's not common knowledge. I think it was a good article -- thanks for posting, ATNM.
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Old 03 July 2015, 01:39 PM
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During Prohibition, apple trees that produced sour, bitter apples used for cider were often chopped down by FBI agents, effectively erasing cider, along with Chapman's true history, from American life. "Apple growers were forced to celebrate the fruit not for its intoxicating values, but for its nutritional benefits," Means writes...
Interesting; I was wondering how, if cider was such a big part of the diet of early American settlers, you'd managed to lose it from the culture to the extent that you have to call it "hard cider" to specify that it's alcoholic. Cider-growing areas of the UK have never had the discontinuity. (Leominster in the UK is in the middle of a big cider-growing area in Herefordshire, too - possibly not a coincidence).

When I was in primary school (I think - a long time ago, anyway) our school participated in some sort of local jamboree, and our section was themed around Johnny Appleseed. I remember standing on stage at the Chichester Festival Theatre singing a song about him, while another pupil dressed up as him pretended to paddle a canoe and scatter seeds around. I suspect we were doing the Disney version....
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Old 03 July 2015, 03:42 PM
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We have all sorts of hard beverages in the US: hard cider, hard lemonade, hard alcohol (which is presumably made by taking non-alcoholic alcohol and adding alcohol to it)...
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Old 05 July 2015, 10:38 PM
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We tend to like to glorify our historical figures. Even pirates have something of a romanticized view these days.

John Chapman was anything but the altruistic barefoot pilgrim. This is when land was "free" to anyone who managed to work it well enough to use. In this case, 50 apple trees were considered an orchard, and if you planted an orchard, the land was yours. So, John Chapman grew his orchards, took the title of the lands and he sold the land to late settlers.

Which sounds like the "hero?" The wandering poor-man who plants the apple trees for the good of the people, or the ambitious land developer who's looking for money?
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Old 06 July 2015, 05:37 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
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This article mentions a number of reasons: http://mason.gmu.edu/~drwillia/cider.html

It's quite conceivable, to me, that the temperance movement along with prohibition would have contributed to a large number of apple trees being cut down. Many apple trees grown for cider aren't that great as eating apples, and a farmer with a large number of cider apples would have been faced with a large harvest of fruit that few wanted.

That being said, "cider" in Canada is generally seen a hard apple cider, not as "raw/unfermented apple juice".

OY
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Old 06 July 2015, 06:39 PM
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Interesting article, overyonder. Both the greater difficulty in distribution at the time of apples versus grains, and the association of cider with the cultural group who were most into prohibition, do seem to make sense; especially the former. I agree with the authors that it isn't just that beer "tastes better", but for different reasons: I think most hard cider tastes a lot better than most beer. But that's bound to be a matter of individual taste. [ETA: and the theory they go with that what we think tastes good is determined in significant part by cultural usefulness of the food does also make sense.]

Around here, "hard cider" is the alcoholic version, "cider" or "sweet cider" is the unfiltered (and ideally unpasteurized) stuff, and "apple juice" is the stuff filtered and cooked out of all recognition.

It's no longer legal to sell unpasteurized sweet cider in NYState, which is very unfortunate because pasteurizing it changes it halfway to apple juice. You can still make your own, though -- or, if you know the right people, possibly buy it under the table; which is a lot less work.

There are also now in this area, as the article mentions, cideries popping up along with, and sometimes associated with, wineries.
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Old 07 July 2015, 01:46 AM
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Along the lines of what names are used, there is a related beverage called 'apple jack', which is made by allowing hard cider to freeze, usually in a barrel, on the porch, and each morning removing the ice from the top. Only the water freezes, not the alcohol, so after several cycles of freezing and ice removal, you can get a pretty strong beverage.

Here's the wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applejack_%28beverage%29
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Old 07 July 2015, 01:56 AM
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That's interesting, ATNM. I had no idea freezing was used this way.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_freezing
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Old 07 July 2015, 02:07 AM
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My Dad told me about doing that in Michigan, when he was a young man. But still the cider eventually turned to vinegar, and my grandfather was still using the barrel of cider decades later.
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Old 07 July 2015, 02:33 AM
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For our fantasy readers, the apple jack process is also described at least once in one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Don't recollect which one(s), but it's in there - slightly embellished for humorous effect, of course.
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Old 07 July 2015, 12:42 PM
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Some Canadian cider makers also do Ice Cider, where the unfermented juice is left to partially freeze outside, and the remaining concentrated juice is then fermented - usually leaving a sweeter end product than its AppleJack counterpart. Some other cider makers leave the apples on the tree over the winter, but that becomes difficult and prone to low yields.

I make (regular, hard) cider, btw. Oddly enough, I've had better results (and won ribbons for it!) with store-bought filtered & pasteurized apple juice. Fresh juice is somewhat hard to get (although not impossible) but the wild yeast & bacteria in the natural juice is very temperamental.

Natural juice also has pectin which can sometimes be problematic unless one uses pectic enzymes to counteract the jelling effect of pectin. I'm sure they had some tricks in the old days to prevent it.

OY
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Old 07 July 2015, 01:11 PM
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One reason that beer became more popular in the US than cider was the great influx of German immigrants in the mid-to-late 19th C.

Also, if after crushing the apples for cider, you take the pulp and skins and throw them in a still, you get apple brandy.
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