An apple — at least — a day

Apples have always been a popular harbinger of fall, but in the early 19th-century they were the most commonly consumed and most popular fruit in New England. That’s not surprising considering apples were planted as soon as settlers arrived from Europe.

The average farm had orchards containing anywhere from 100 to 300 apple trees, according to information from Old Sturbridge Village. But the types of apples cultivated then, would not be familiar to today’s shoppers. Varieties such as winter, Porter, Pearmain, and Sopsavine apples, are few and far between today. Which may be a good thing, because most apples grown then were “keepers,” dried or stored in dirt cellars for use throughout the year.

However, some have endured including the Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, Winesap and Baldwin.

With all that fruit, the average farm family produced about 300 gallons of apple cider a year. It was not, however, the sweet cider commonly found at farm markets and on supermarket shelves today. The cider produced in the early 1800s was fermented and had an alcoholic content of 4% to 8%, but it was enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Apples are still grown in significant quantity in Connecticut today. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there were 248 farms planted with 2,421 acres of apples in 2007, the latest year statistics were available. In 2010, Connecticut produced 22 million pounds of apples, while all of New England produced 140 million pounds.