Apples are on my mind!
I visited a local apple orchard yesterday with my family and came back loaded with apples, cider, fudge and pumpkin butter–and we only went for the apple donuts!
One of the things I enjoyed when I was a child was to take family trips in autumn to see the colors and enjoy the Apple Days celebration in Julian, CA. Perhaps that is a reason I set my stories there. Nostalgia. In each of my books I’ve given a nod to the thing that kept Julian on the map after the gold rush there had played out — Apples.
James Madison, a widower, came to the area in 1867 looking for a good area for a ranch. He was born in New York, but grew up in New Orleans. He began breeding race horses (the Shiloh breed of quarter horse) and also Durham cattle. In the early 1870s, he and Thomas Brady traveled to San Bernardino, brought back a wagon-load of apple trees and planted an orchard.
The higher elevation and increased rainfall in the land around Julian, along with the type of soil, made the it perfect location for a different kind of fruit other than the lemons and grapefruits and avocado trees that did so well nearer the coast. Before long, Madison also had blackberries, peaches, grapes and almond trees that produced exemplary fruit. (He also grew wheat as well as had a half-share in the Hubbard Mine. He was a very busy man!)
Many other inhabitants of the area, began planting orchards. By the 1890’s apples from Julian were shipped throughout the country and winning county fairs. They won blue ribbons at the 1893 Worlds’ Fair in Chicago and in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair. In 1907, Julian apples won eight gold medals in the Jamestown Virginia Exposition, one of them being the Wilder Medal, which is the highest award given by the American Pomological Society.
- No other fruit has had the popularity of apples in art, literature, poems, and songs.
- The original wild apple comes from Kazakhstan. This was found through following the DNA trail. These wild apples are still prevalent there today.
- The original wild version can be terrifically sour. It is known as the “spitter” because the initial reaction upon taking a bite is to spit it out. It is only domestication and grafting that developed the sweet and tart flavors.
- John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) collected seeds from Pennsylvania cider mills and carried them west, starting orchards in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. These apples were too sour for eating and were used to make liquor.
- The Temperance Movement in the 1880s viewed the apple as sinful (see previous) and pushed for the burning of apple trees.
This is my standard recipe for Apple Crisp that I’ve been making for my family for years. (I prefer it warm, with a splash of milk to balance the sweetness.)
In an 8” x 8” buttered pan:
Fill pan with sliced apples OR 1 large can of apple pie filling.
In a bowl mix:
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
Add one beaten egg and mix with fork until crumbly.
Spread over fruit.
Melt one stick of butter and pour over mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
What is your favorite way to enjoy apples?
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set in Clear Springs (a.k.a. Julian!)
Psst! My favorite eating apple is the Honey Crisp. What’s yours?