Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Pie No.4

I have given myself a challenge today, with the topic of apple pie. A number of previous posts have discussed apple pie, so what is there left to say? But wait! We have had the famous (or infamous) Mock Apple made with crackers, Apple Pie with Whole Pippins (and orengado), Apple Pie with Potatoes, Onion Pye Made by Labouring Mens’ Wives (with apples), and Pork Apple Pie. What we have not had is simple, uncomplicated, apple-only pie.
The most important apple pie in early America was undoubtedly made from dried apples. Apples grew as well in New England as they did in Old England, and in a mere orchard-establishing while, the country was awash with the fruit. Luckily the apple is easily dried – a great bonus at a time of limited preserving methods. Barrels of dried apples were a staple provision aboard the wagons on the great Westward treck, so that even a migrating family could regularly enjoy out of season apple-pies.
The New American Gardener of 1828 explained the very simple method of drying the apples.
“Every body knows that the apples are peeled, cut into about eight pieces, the core taken out, and the pieces put in the sun till they become dry and tough. They are then put by in bags or boxes in a dry place. But the flesh of the apple does not change its nature in the drying; and, therefore, the finest, and not the coarsest apples should have all this trouble bestowed upon them.”
Mrs. Rundell in A New System of Domestic Cookery (1824) gives the oven-drying method.
Dried Apples.
Put them in a cool oven six or seven times, and flatten them by degrees, and gently, when soft enough to bear it. If the oven be too hot, they will waste; and at first it should be very cool.
The biffin, the minshul crab, or any tart apples, are the sorts for drying.
And now to prepare them for pie:
Dried Apple Pies.
Wash the apples in two or three waters, and put them to soak in rather more water than will cover them, as they absorb a great deal. After soaking an hour or two, put them into a preserving kettle with the same water, and with the thin peel of one or two lemons, chopped fine. Boil tender; when they rise, press them down, but do not stir them. When tender, add sugar, and boil fifteen or twenty minutes longer. Dried apples, soaked over night, are made tasteless, and are mashed up by being stirred. When cooked, stir in a little melted butter, some cinnamon, and powdered cloves. It is important that the apples should be of a tart kind. 
Jennie June's American Cookery Book. 1870.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Quotation for the Day …
The natural term of an apple-pie is but twelve hours. It reaches its highest state about one hour after it comes from the oven, and just before its natural heat has quite departed. But every hour afterward is a declension. And after it is one day old, it is thence-forward but the ghastly corpse of apple-pie.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)


Anonymous said...

The apple pies Henry Ward Beecher had available to him must have been quite terrible to have lasted so long - hadn't they ever heard of apple pie for breakfast back then?

The Old Foodie said...

KT you are so right. Any pie left over after breakfast the next day should cause the cook to be sacked!