May 29 ...
“I think I have noticed that coarse-natured farmers' boys, etc., have not a sufficiently fine and delicate taste to appreciate a high-flavored apple. It is commonly too acid for them, and they prefer some tame, sweet thing, fit only for baking, as a pumpkin sweeting.”
The consummate snobbery aside, this statement begs a number of other questions.
Mr. Thoreau seems to imply:
- that a ‘high-flavored apple’ must be acidic, not sweet (Is a highly-flavoured very sweet apple impossible? surely the perfect apple is a perfect balance of both?)
- that a taste for the acidic rather than the sweet represents a more highly developed palate,
- and perhaps that coarse-natured boys would probably not like acidic pickles, on account of their unsophisticated and indelicate tastebuds.
I read into it also that he feels that a variety of apple which is particularly good for baking is intrinsically inferior to one that is good for eating out of hand. But perhaps I am being hard on Mr. Thoreau.
I am grateful to him however, for telling me of a never-before-heard-of food. What a charming name for an apple. Is it called a pumpkin sweeting because it is as sweet as pumpkin? As yellow as a pumpkin? Or because it is as good as pumpkin in a pie?(it cant be that, surely – it must be the other way around – the apple pie must be the benchmark?)
Apparently the apple goes by a number of names, most referring to either the pumpkin connection or the sweetness. Modern references mention it as having a firm yellow, crisp, juicy, and very sweet flesh - which makes it sound like the perfect eating apple, but I await some informed opinion from my American readers. The Pumpkin Sweeting is said to have a particular affinity with quinces, and to make good apple butter. It does both in this recipe. You could make the cider for the recipe with them too, if you have a good supply.
Boil down new sweet cider to one half the original quantity. Stew peeled and cored apples, with one quarter as many quinces, in this cider, till it is a very dark color. If well boiled, it will keep a year in jars, and is called Apple Butter.
[Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book: Designed As A Supplement To Her Treatise On Domestic Economy. Catharine Esther Beecher, c1846.]
Tomorrow’s Story …
Seven things to do with salt beef.
Quotation for the Day …
Adam was but human-this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. Mark Twain.