As you’ll know from her blog post, Sharon Ashwood and I got earthy at a wassail celebration–a blessing of the trees–at a local cider orchard last weekend.
That was a first for me, but for several years I’ve been cozying up to apples in other ways.
At the annual Salt Spring Apple Festival, on the Canadian side of the border just north of Corsair’s Cove, I always find some ancient treasure or new-to-me recipe.
I’ve acquired the cookbook An Apple a Day by islander Mary Mollet that starts with Three-Grain Apple Pancakes and wraps up, 300 pages later, with Apple Cocktail Pizzas.
I’ve bought one orchard’s entire crop of Cornish Gillyflowers (about eight apples) out of a sentimental attachment to my great-grandfather’s homeland.
So when we Corsettes decided that our next Corsair’s Cove adventure would be the Orchard Series, I was delighted. What a fantastic excuse to delve into the history, the botany, and of course the recipes of all things apples.
One of my recent researches was reading Helen Humphreys’s fascinating The Ghost Orchard: The Hidden History of the Apple in North America.
“…in the nineteenth-century heyday of apples,” she writes, “there were upwards of seventeen thousand different varieties in North American orchards. Today there are fewer than a hundred varieties grown commercially.”
Those astonishing figures make me appreciate even more the work of orchardists of Salt Spring Island and elsewhere who nurture and graft and prune and preserve hundreds of historic varieties of this most useful fruit.
And I’m inspired to find a new variety of my own–even if I have to make it up!(Rubbing hands gleefully)