Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Harvest at Peter Wentz

I mentioned before that Grace is apprenticing at the Peter Wentz Farmstead.  She helped out at Sheep Shearing day and two different summer camps this year.  This past Saturday she participated in the Fall Harvest helping out at the cider pressing demonstration. 

This was a much better experience for her than the last event because the man who who was running this demonstration knew more about apples, apple trees and apple cider than anyone I have every met.  One quick fact I learned of the hundreds that he shared with us is that during the 18th century there were over 4,000 known and named varieties of apples!  And all those different apples were known for their different purposes.  Some were good for keeping, some for eating right away (at-hand apples), sauce, pies, drying, and cider.   These you would be hard pressed to find more than 12 varieties in the store.

The other thing we learned is that you cannot grow apple trees from seed if you want to produce the same variety.  Because they are open pollinators you never know what you are going to get.  If you want a Macintosh apple tree you need to take a branch from a Macintosh apple tree and graft it on to another apple tree (usually a crab-apple) root stock.  The grafting process is fascinating in and of itself, but I won't bore you with the details. 

So Grace was very happy to be apprenticing at this station because she learned so much this time.

While Grace was hard at work making cider, the rest of us toured the other stations, had a tour of the house and the kids had fun playing with the colonial games.  My parents, my father-in-law and the kids' cousins had come up but I neglected to get any pictures of them.  Oops!

Claire had the most fun of all playing with the blacksmith's dog.  This was one of those great dogs that you could poke its eyes and pull its fur and it is still as gentle as can be, which is good because Claire sure loves animals!


  1. Fun! Grace looks like a natural.
    I just made applesauce with the Smokehouse Apple. Did he mention that one? I know it's an "old apple" and hard to find anymore these days..

    I know you said this is at the Peter Wentz place... but it reminds me of The Quiet Valley living historical farm. We just went to their fall weekend on Saturday. Have you ever heard of Quiet Valley, (Stroudsburg, PA)??

    1. He didn't mention the Smokehouse apple that I can remember, but he was talking a mile a minute so he may have. :)

      We have never been to Quiet Valley but it sounds like something we would want to check out!

  2. Please let Grace know that I am from Apple Cider Stock...my great grandparents started a cider mill (Van Duyne's Cider Mill) in Montville, NJ. My grandparents ran it, and my Aunt continues to run it. It's the oldest mill run by one family in the country. My grandfather, Harvey Van Duyne, was the oldest of 9 and left school after 3rd grade to help his mother Ida Mae run the mill and help on the farm. My great grandfather didn't work much with the mill, but was the tax collector and wore a starched white shirt and had little eye glasses. We have his desk here in our hallway. The vats were large wooden vats when I was a child...and I loved to help my grandfather put the lids on the jugs after he would fill the jug from the vat...the cider came out of a rubber hose. I still love the smell of squished apples, especially after it has sat for a day or so. Heavenly! They didn't grow their own apples, but went to Warwick, NY for them. Also, people could bring apples from their trees to have them pressed at the mill. Next time I see Grace we will talk apples and cider! Oh, I did make a big pot of applesauce the other day...still have some in the refrigerator...yum.


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