Connie R. is the winner of one title from Joan Hochstetler's American Patriot Series in her May drawing! November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Saturday, November 24, 2018

As American as Crabapple Jelly

Thanksgiving might be the most tradition-bound holiday for me. There’s no wondering what will be on the table!

We all seem to celebrate the wonders of pumpkin (well, really pumpkin spice) as soon as September rolls around, but apple pie, that’s an all together different subject. We love apple pie all year long!

"American as apple pie." (We'll leave hot dogs for another time...)

While apple pie is always on my holiday table, I'm certain it was not part of the first Thanksgiving feast in its present form. Pumpkin pie would be a no also, even though squash was likely part of that multi-day meal. Because that canned pumpkin you buy is really a squash cultivar, the lines of linking back to 1621 are blurred there…

The truth is that until European settlements became established, the only apple option was the native crabapple.

If you’ve eaten this interesting little fruit, it’s likely been in the form of jelly. Like another tart fruit, serviceberry (Amelanchier spp. for example), jellies and jams and preserves make up for that mouth-puckering taste with the addition of ‘additional’ sugar.

Apples came to the continent in bits and pieces—apples, seeds, and rootstocks. Champions of early colonial horticulture tried most fruits (and flowering plants and vegetables) in various climates and soil types throughout the new colonies. Robert Prince, likely the first and most well-known, founded a nursery in 1737 in Flushing, NY he named The Linean. (Correctly spelled Linnaean after the father of scientific classification--how things are named.)

By trial and error and a lot of persistence, Prince eventually began apple tree production along with pear and grape, and ornamental crops such as roses.

Prince became internationally known for his work, but his name is lost for the most part. Ask anyone about early apple orchards and you here only one name: Johnny Appleseed!

A skilled graftsman, Robert Prince is likely responsible for most of the apples we have now as they were based on his work. Hundreds of varieties of apples have come and gone in almost three hundred years and their geneology is well-recorded.

Today, crabapples are a common landscape tree grown for their brilliant showy spring blossoms in every hue from white to red.

Did the colonists like their apple pie? It’s said that during the Revolutionary War, General Howe ordered military protection of Prince’s huge plant nursery. Their success brought a visit by President Washington in 1789. Just when that imported fruit became part of our national identity isn’t clear, but you’ll always find both apple and pumpkin pie on my holiday table!

What was on yours?

Cooked crabapples are strained; the resulting liquid is cooked with sugar and pectin.
both photos via Creative Commons


Have a wonderful, blessed holiday season my friends!


  1. My grandmother made crabapple jelly! I think she felt obligated because we grandchildren would go out to play and always bring home a bag or box full, sometimes it was one of the boys shirts.
    As for pie, I bought a pumpkin pie at Costco this year.

  2. I made a pumpkin apple pie and my daughter made a pumpkin spice cake.

  3. We had pumpkin and cherry pies. Pumpkin is the staple for Thanksgiving, but I like it all the time.

  4. We didnt have any pies on Thanksgiving day this year. We had brownies! I did bake a pie the next day though, in honor of my grandma's birthday. The name of the pie is Impossible Pie. It's like a coconut custard and it doesn't have a crust.

  5. When I was a young girl, our family had a beautiful crabapple tree in the side yard. I loved eating the crabapples. I didn't even wash them. But, walking under the tree hurt my little feet because I stepped all over those little crabapples. :-) We enjoyed pumpkin pie this year.

  6. Popped over to say hi, though it's past party time. Not a good time to have power down--it went on for about 2-21/2 hrs. Can get really cold in that amt. of time! Good to have a land-line, folks--can call out in emergencies. Have never gotten rid of it,though every thing has gone battery-operated. Thanks for the lovely post, Deb. Brings deeper meaning & enjoyment of our country's heritage. Pies: three--chocolate, pumpkin and apple at friends' house. Love pumpkin!


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