Choice “highly recommends” Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard


Available in hardcover and paper, as well as Kindle and Nook ebooks.

Available in hardcover and paper, as well as Kindle and Nook ebooks.

“This book takes away the dross of mythology, but replaces it with the realistic humanity of a most fascinating, unique American.”

Kerrigan, William.  Johnny Appleseed and the American orchard: a cultural history.  Johns Hopkins, 2012.  231p index afp; ISBN 9781421407289, $50.00; ISBN 9781421407296 pbk, $25.00.
50-4430  SB63  2012-12916 CIP

The legend of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman, 1774-1845) is a fundamental component of American folklore. Disney created a cartoon that captured the legend in caricature in 1948. By contrast, Kerrigan (Muskingum Univ.) provides a book that brings reality to the myth(s) and, in doing so, paints a compelling picture of the social dynamics of the period both prior to and during John Chapman’s life. Readers will feel transported back to those days, as Kerrigan describes the religious, geographic, and economic environment. Like quality biography, this is good history, with a well-told story and excellent scholarship. Chapman was dedicated to providing seedling apples for fermented cider for settlers at the front edge of the expanding US territories of the 18th and 19th centuries, the present regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Kerrigan debunks many Chapman myths, including his vegetarianism, unwillingness to hunt or kill animals, or commitment to pacifism. This book takes away the dross of mythology, but replaces it with the realistic humanity of a most fascinating, unique American. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic and general audiences, all levels. —G. S. Howell, emeritus, Michigan State University

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s Books are currently engaged in a price war, discounting the price of the paperback version .

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The Return of Hard Cider


David White of Whitewood Cider Co.

David White of Whitewood Cider Co.

If you haven’t noticed the explosion of artisan hard ciders across the United States over the last few years, you haven’t been paying attention. Hard cider was a staple beverage in most rural households until the 1830s, when almost all of it was produced by what would today be called nano-cideries or micro-cideries. Those farmers who did not own a cider press did not have to tote their surplus apples very far to find a neighbor who had one. There are a number of factors which contributed to the decline in hard cider production in the United States beginning in the 1830s. The temperance movement’s campaign against the cider apple was one factor. But perhaps more importantly, German immigration in the middle decades of the 19th century saw a dramatic expansion in the number of beer breweries, and these German brewers quickly established regional, and eventually national markets for their beverage, while cider-making often remained focused on home production or local markets.

Andy Sietsema of Sietsema Orchards in Ada, Michigan.

Andy Sietsema of Sietsema Orchards in Ada, Michigan.

A nice post by Christopher Lehault on Serious Eats highlights “four up-and-coming cider makers to watch in 2013,” and it is well worth a read.  The four featured cider makers also represent the diverse backgrounds and approaches of today’s new cideries.  Andy Sietsema  of Sietsema Orchards is a fourth generation apple farmer from Ada, Michigan, who has recently expanded into cider production. David White and Heather Ringwood of Olympia, Washington launched Whitewood Cider Co. Last year. David has been involved in the cider movement for many years, and keeps and excellent blog, old-timecider.com. Ellen Cavalli and Scott Heath began exploring cider making after

Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli of Tilted Shed Ciderworks in Forestville, California

Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli of Tilted Shed Ciderworks in Forestville, California

taking charge of a neglected apple orchard in Northern New Mexico.  They have since relocated to Forestville, California and launched Tilted Shed Ciderworks. And Courtney Mailley, a graduate of the cider school at Cornell University’s Food Science Lab, has launched perhaps the nation’s first “urban cider,” called Blue Bee Cider, in Richmond Virginia. Learn more about each of these up-and-coming cider makers by reading Christopher Lehault’s excellent post on Serious Eats.

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider in Richmond, Virginia

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider in Richmond, Virginia