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Looking at Apples & Drinking Cider

Looking at Apples

We have over forty apple trees and they are very old. We think William Perry planted them in the late nineteenth century. We are slowly identifying the trees and learning about apple characteristics in the process. We have old heritage varieties such as Golden Russet, Alexander, Ashmead's Kernel, Cox's Orange Pippin, Bishop's Pippin and Gravenstein. Some varieties we know are of a general type, such as Greening or Newtown Pippin or some of the early golden varieties like August Apple, a local name. My favorite apple name is Transcendent Crab. If you have to be a crabapple you might as well be transcendent. We took pictures of each variety and began to build an apple library, so we can add to our knowledge about each kind as we go along.

One of the great lessons of the island is that the more closely you observe something the more beautiful it becomes. Most of these apples would not fare well in a market. They are small and oddly shaped and their colors are subtle rather than bright. But the more I looked at their peculiarities -- their russeting, blush, streaking, the little pin point dots called lenticels which can be so many different colors themselves -- the more I recognized their beauty. And the differences in taste are just amazing.

Greg climbed up into the trees and picked most of the harvest, brave soul. We put all the apples in big old wooden crates, and borrowed more from Skipper. Then we washed them thoroughly and fed them into the hopper of the new cider press.

After the chopped-up apples are pressed into juice, there's a mash left over, which we dumped in the yard for the sheep and deer. We have a picture of the sheep gathered around the mash at the end of one day. They must have thought they'd gone to heaven since they didn't even need to chew, something they can't do very well.


We Only Drink Cider Now

We started picking apples in early October, and by the middle of the month Greg had assembled our new cider press. We were ready to go. We spent a dizzying few days trying to press and store sixty or seventy gallons of cider. We gave away lots of it fresh, froze as much as we could, and started the hard cider process with about twenty gallons. As usual, we barely know what we are doing, but we are willing to learn from our mistakes, if only we can remember what they were.

Neither of us has ever been a particular fan of apple juice or the cider you could buy in the store. It was sweet and insipid. But now we have a new perspective. We held a two person tasting of the cider from each of trees, and discovered that the tastes were quite different -- except toward the end, when they all tasted pretty much the same and we couldn't touch another drop. We mixed a few and started giving them names. Short Cut cider is from the two trees along the short cut between the lower road and the main road. Those were two of our best trees. Three Sisters is from three trees that run along the stone wall just north of the house. I'm pretty sure one of those trees is a Maiden's Blush apple, so Three Sisters turns out to be a good name.

I'm drinking Three Sisters right this minute. In fact, we've given up buying soda and frozen cranberry juice and wine. We only drink cider now.


For several years Anne Yarbrough and her husband Greg Brown resided on Shelburne Harbour’s McNutt’s Island. During their years of residence Anne kept a journal of life and living on the Island.

Anne has very generously and graciously given us permission at The Cooper’s Inn to incorporate her writings from her blog in our Shelburne Travel . Calm blog. You’ll find many entertaining and informative articles in her blog. We’ll be featuring many of them in future posts. Certainly if you’re excited and curious to learn more sooner then please venture over to their blog site.

You can learn more about Anne on her About page here. Anne and Greg are lifelong adventurers. They currently reside in Wilmington, Delaware. Their memories of Shelburne and its people, residents and visitors alike, still warm their hearts.

Anne shares ‘’I'm very happy to think that the blog can be recycled….’’

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