types of apples

Eating, Drinking, and Preserving: The Power of the Apple

Author: Brittany B. Joachim


If corn represented a versatile crop from the Americas, the apple was that from Europe. When apples first came to the United States, they primarily saw home usage with a variety grown for various purposes. Some apples were good for baking or eating, some for cider making, and some for vinegar production. One method we still enjoy today, whether alcoholic or not, is cider. Families, rich and poor, enjoyed cider and tried to find the correct apples to make it. Our apple cider press provides practical information in cider making and in the importance of apples. The press itself is a rolling press, meaning you poured your cut apples into the top section for the first grinding. Then a second grinding occurred with water added. This second grinding was what gave us the apple cider after straining. 

museum's apple cider press, circa 1850-1900
The apple cider press on display at the museum, dated 1850-1900.

Bringing Apples to North America

Europeans had enjoyed cider for many generations before it arrived in the United States. When the Romans marched to England in 55 BC, they found the locals enjoying apple cider. By the 9th century, apple cider drinking was known in western Europe. When Europeans, partially, the English, first made their way to North America, they brought their apples with them.        

 In North Carolina, the foothills and parts of the Appalachian Mountains provided the perfect climate for apples. While not a huge commercial crop, apples remained an important food source for many in these areas. At one point, more than fifteen hundred types of apples grew in North Carolina. However, with the commercialization and industrialization of the apple industry, many were lost. Today though, there are dedicated people in the agricultural and historical communities on the hunt for North Carolina’s lost heirloom apple trees. To see some of North Carolina’s heirloom apples, one can visit Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, home to the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard. There, visitors will learn more about farm life in the 1900s, including the importance of apples. If you cannot make that trip, you can follow the adventures of the Brown’s as they seek to find and preserve lost apple varieties in North Carolina here: https://applesearch.org/.



“Apple Cider, Apple Butter, Perry, and Vinegar”. National Apple Museum: Biglerville Historical

& Preservation Society. Accessed on 15 September 2020. http://www.nationalapplemuseum.com/appleciderandmore.html


Boeckmann, Catherine. “How to Make Apple Cider with an Apple Press”. The Old Farmer’s 

            Almanac. 23 September 2019. Accessed on 15 September 2020.



Castle, Sheri. “Apples”. Tar Heel Junior Historian. Spring 2007. Accessed on 15 September



Horne Creek Living History Farm and Southern Heritage Apple Orchard
Horne Creek Living History Farm is an N.C. State Historic Site home to the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard. Photo Credit: N.C. State Historic Sites.

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