November 12, 2014

The dark side of "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

"John Chapman died in 1845, and many of his orchards and apple varieties didn't survive much longer. 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, 'its ability, taken once a day, to keep the doctor away...' In a way, this aphorism — so benign by modern standards—was nothing less than an attack on a typically American libation."

From a Smithsonian article titled "The Real Johnny Appleseed Brought Apples—and Booze—to the American Frontier/The apples John Chapman brought to the frontier were very different than today's apples—and they weren't meant to be eaten."

Means is Howard Means, who wrote a book called "Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story."

Lately, Meadhouse has been ciderhouse. Meade recommends:

44 comments:

Xmas said...

I still recommend "Botany of Desire" for it's chapter on apples and Johnny Appleseed. One of the things he did was help produce a healthy rootstock for apple growing in the US.

traditionalguy said...

The dark side of apple cider? So are they calling Johnny a front man for a drug cartel aimed at children?

Peter said...

Fresh apple cider will turn "hard" if you keep it around long enough, even without adding sugar and yeast.

But most of what's sold as cider today won't, as the preservatives in it will keep it from fermenting until it finally rots.

And, yes, most of it is also candy-like sweet.

alan markus said...

The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious:
How the worst apple took over the United States, and continues to spread


Interesting - explains why I haven't eaten many Red Delicious apples in the last few years.

RecChief said...

the history of cider is fascinating. currently there is a shortage of good cider apples, so cider makers are using baking apples.

I'll stick to whisky

Ann Althouse said...

"I still recommend "Botany of Desire"..."

Yes, me too. I've read that many times.

Ann Althouse said...

"The dark side of apple cider?"

No. "Dark side" refers to the aphorism and its origin in government overreach and destruction.

Ann Althouse said...

That J.K. cider is really good. We have 4 different varieties, and it's replacing wine and beer here at Meadhouse.

I especially like the one that has pear along with apple.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

What's with "sour, bitter apples"? Sourness and bitterness are mutually exclusive -- low and high pH, respectively.

RecChief said...

John Chapman died in 1845, and many of his orchards and apple varieties didn't survive much longer. 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,'

I read a piece recently on cider apples and if I remember correctly, the author posited that cider apple trees grew well in the northeast, but not the midwest. With the wave of German immigrants coming to the midwest, where barley and wheat grow well, beer took over as the daily drink of choice.

Us germans always ruin everything huh?

traditionalguy said...

I notice that JK has a beautiful dog.

JOB said...

Applejack In June

A murky tide of amber, it goes down smooth
As January sunlight at its core.

How many apples mashed to make it soothe
Jack Frost? A sacramental sort of ore,

Its drunken sap spills from earth, shooting straight
Through roots, up trunk, out branch, into its own

Orthodox harvest to initiate
Chilling resurrections distilled to bone,

Hot and fat with sugar. Winter had it neat,
Kegged and turned to earth again, cellared soon

To contain a patient violence, a heat
Entombed in casks to shine like bottled June.

Widmerpool said...

AA - no post on the return of Valerie Cherish?

Sorry for the off-topic comment.

SGT Ted said...

Fascinating that cider apple orchards were once treated like they do the illegal pot farms of today.

It just helps illustrate the destructiveness of prohibitionists.

virgil xenophon said...

So did any of the "cider apple" root-stock survive? If not where does the industry get their product from today

jimbino said...

The FBI didn't need to chop down all those apple trees. Cider could have easily been eliminated by simply placing imposing price controls charged--in this case a lower limit for apples just above the market price for sour, wormy and disfigured apples. Just as the minimum wage eliminates demand for low-value labor, a low limit on apple prices would eliminate all those sour apples. Those unsold applies, will end up tossed out on the ash-heap of socialist policy alongside those young minority workers idled by the minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.

Larry J said...

If you get the chance, you should watch Mike Rowe's show on "How Booze Changed America." It's funny and educational at the same time. It covers such topics as why so many famous distilleries like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are located in Kentucky and Tennessee, how booze fueled the fur trade, and of course Johnny Appleseed.

At the end, Mike (a former opera singer) sings the bar song that became the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner" while on a boat just off of Fort McHenry. He was a puzzled by the lyrics as everyone else. That part is available on YouTube.

EDH said...

"The dark side of "an apple a day..."

Oh, you mean orally.

MadisonMan said...

Didn't survive much longer?

Chapman died in 1845. Prohibition was 70+ years later. That seems like a long time to me, even for a tree.

chickelit said...

Meade buys hard cider? I thought he gruit himself.

rhhardin said...

Mässig im Geniessen heisst dem Arzt die Thür verschliessen, with dog.

David said...

Saskatoon Curvee .Gotta love the name.

Ann Althouse said...

"AA - no post on the return of Valerie Cherish?"

I blogged about it back when the show was announced, and I have watched the first episode, which is all that's out so far. Watched it twice, even.

But I don't write reviews, really. I'll blog it when I have something to say. I don't blog things just to say that I did something or consumed something. That's sort of a chore. If it were my job, I'd get into it, but I'm just not interested in explaining what I saw. Other people do that and get paid to do it.

Carol said...

'Prohibition was 70+ years later. '

there was prohibition in states and counties before national.

LarsPorsena said...

So much for "as American as apple pie".

St. George said...

Hard cider sales are going through the roof.

"I believe that a case could be made that in 10 years, cider will be bigger than craft beer," said John Hall, founder of Virtue Cider.

The volume of cider sold in the United States grew more than fourfold from 2008 to 2013, while beer volume declined, according to data from Euromonitor International. Cider was a nearly $1.32 billion industry in the United States last year, and Euromonitor expects cider sales to jump 43 percent this year.

One reason for the growth is the marketing budgets behind three of the largest cider brands in the country: Boston Beer Co. Inc.'s Angry Orchard, which launched nationally in 2012; Smith & Forge, made by MillerCoors; and Johnny Appleseed, made by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beer company.

"The big brewers really sat out craft beer for about 20 years, and I think they don't want to make the mistake with cider," Hall said."

Michael K said...

If I have to remind people again, Prohibition was a Progressive cause. Coolidge, for example, was a supporter of the beer industry in Massachusetts. Harding was a whiskey drinker. Too many people assume Republicans were the killjoys behind Prohibition but they were not.

It was also a Suffragette cause and we can thank early feminism for the benefits of The Volstead Act.

CWJ said...

Fun fact.

John Chapman died a prosperous man in Fort Wayne, IN; where he was buried on his property; now Johnny Appleseed Park. So much for the pedantry.

The fun fact is that Harry Baals Drive is the main thoroughfare through the park.

CWJ said...

When you're faced with transporting goods on the pre-railroad frontier; high value to volume less perishable items like cider and whiskey make a lot more sense than the original fruit and grain.

glenn said...

Cidre, Normandys gift to the world. And after crepes complet a glass of calvados. It's a nice pillow.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

CWJ said...When you're faced with transporting goods on the pre-railroad frontier; high value to volume less perishable items like cider and whiskey make a lot more sense than the original fruit and grain.

Exactly correct! Transportation costs were so much higher it's difficult to imagine, but that fact of life drove all kinds of economic decisions. Cider and whiskey could be shipped economically and were less susceptible to spoilage--remember this is before commercial refrigeration was possible.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

I do like Calvados, which is an Apple Brandy from Normandy region of France.

JAFC said...

Hard cider is VERY easy to make at home. Get fresh, preservative-free cider from your local greenmarket, pour it into a sanitized carboy (I use a 3-gallon Better Bottle) and pitch some yeast from you local homebrew shop. After your first batch, you can just repitch part of your yeast cake from the previous batch. Ready in about a week.

gerry said...

That is the dark side?

Michael K said...

"That is the dark side?"

No, the dark side was pouring millions of gallons of wine into ditches in Napa Valley. It was a disaster that took decades to recover from

Roosevelt got a lot of mileage from Repeal and Hoover, another Progressive, got the GOP stuck with the myth that they were the source of Prohibition.

virgil xenophon said...

We got the income tax EXACTLY because it was needed to replace the tax income from liquor & beer sales. That was why the prohibitionists supported the income so heavily..

Sam L. said...

Chopping down apple trees to prevent cider; why not chopping corn fields to prevent booze? The fascism of "good" ideas!

Red Delicious: Only the Red is true.

rehajm said...

Hard cider was a prohibition drink in my family. The pitcher to prove it sat in grandpa's front window.

It's encouraging to see the the craft beverage industry take off the way it has.

Hard cider is a tasty, approachable drink. Bartles and Jaymes are waaaaay dead, and those panties aren't going to drop off all by themselves now, are they?

Clyde said...

I like the Angry Orchard cider that's pretty much universally available. Goes good with BBQ.

CWJ said...

Wow!

HoodlumDoodlum gets my second even more pedantic comment.

But no love for Harry Baals Drive? I can't believe it.

Livermoron said...

Don't blame the Germans! They love hard cider too. In the wine -growing Mosel region they drink a cider called Vitz (iirc) and in Frankfurt (and thoughout the state of Hesse) the locally-preferred tipple is Aepfelwein (Ebbelwoi) in the dialect). There are Ebbelwoi gardens throughout the city.
Lower carbs, no glutens...much better than beer in that regard. And it is the best drink ever with pork.
I will be bottling 6 gallons of my own Ebbelwoi in a couple hours.
Btw, if you are ever in Frankfurt book a ride on the Ebbelwoi Express. It is a dedicated streetcar/bar that takes you on a tour of the city while you drink Ebbelwoi and eat pretzels.

Teri said...

Just for the record, I used to work in an apple orchard. They had a variety of red delicious that was very good. Of course, I was eating a ripe one. The problem is that apples bruise less if picked green. Workers are paid by the bin so they have no incentive to treat the apples gently. The orchard I worked for raised Granny Smiths and they bruise easily. They wanted a crew that would not bruise the apples, so they did not hire Hispanics. They hired old fruit tramps.

Most of the apples you buy, like most of the fruit you buy, are not ripe.

Thud said...

Lots of hard cider over here in the U.K. I have quite a few heritage cider apple trees growing on my property and a cold cider is one of our brief summers treats.