OSV celebrates apple season
STURBRIDGE – With its “living collection” of heirloom apple trees, Old Sturbridge Village is one of the best places in the country to learn about rare varieties of antique apples.
During the museum’s annual Apple Days festival Oct. 4 and 5, visitors can taste heirloom apple varieties, see the ox-powered Cider Mill in operation, tour the apple orchards, and take home apple seeds to plant.
The Village blacksmiths will make a vintage-style apple peeling machine; the coopers will craft an apple barrel; the “tinners” will make an old-fashioned apple picker, and in the Village’s households, historians will demonstrate how apples were used and stored in root cellars.
In early New England, apples were an important food source all year long and were used fresh, dried, or pressed into cider. Some varieties, like Baldwins and Roxbury Russets, were excellent “keepers” – lasting for months. Children had the important job of checking the apples stored in barrels in the root cellar, making sure that “one bad apple” did not “spoil the bunch.”
Although most supermarkets are limited to a few varieties, there were once thousands of apple varieties recognized in North America, with distinctive tastes and colorful names like “Sheepnose,” “Westfield-Seek-No-Further,” and “Hubbardston Nonesuch.” Thomas Jefferson favored a dessert apple called “Esopus Spitzenburg,” which was discovered in Esopus, New York. Most supermarket varieties today are favored because they ship and store well, or are easier to harvest by machine. OSV maintains a heritage orchard of apple trees that produce apples with unique flavors and other characteristics – such as apples that are exceptional for drying or baking.
Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is one of the largest living history museums in the country. The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. OSV offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 3 to 17, $8; children 2 and under, free. For times and details of all OSV activities visit www.osv.org
or call 1-800-SEE-1830.