Summer Apples

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, August 11, 1912:Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Went for some apples after I came home and got a dunking in the rain. Took an umbrella along part way, so it happened that I didn’t have it when I needed it the most.

Yellow transparent apples

Yellow Transparent Apples (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I hope that Grandma was able to pick a few apples before it started raining. The first summer apples to ripen each year were special in those days.

Today we have apples year-round (sometimes from thousands of miles away), but in  Grandma’s day the last of the apples from the previous year had probably been eaten in March or April—and after so many months in storage those last apples probably had been soft and mealy.

When I was a child, Yellow Transparent apples were the first to ripen each year. They made a wonderfully tart apple sauce. I haven’t seen a Yellow Transparent apple in years—there used to be so many apple varieties, each with a wonderfully unique taste and texture.

Here’s the link to the recipe I use:

Old-fashioned Apple Sauce

11 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing! We really do take for granted our easy it is to get certain foods all year round – a good reminder!

  2. Thanks for the recipe. I keep an apple bin. I usually go to one of the orchards around here and get enough apples around November – December to fill up my bin. Come spring time, they are soft and mealy but that’s when I make them into apple sauce. I clean out my bin and wait for the new apples. I guess I love the Paula Reds best for an early apple. I think a lot of apples have been developed by the extension services to cut down the spraying they need. I know NY Extension service put Liberty on the market bascally because it needed so little care. I tasted it once and it was absolutely delicious and am surprised that we don’t see more of it … Oh, well. I can’t eat the apples that come in from over seas… they don’t even taste like apples… and now I see some of the orchards up here actually growing them. So I know what you mean when you long for the taste of a good apple in the August. Thanks again for the apple sauce recipe.

    • It awesome that you still have apple bins. I’ve never had a root cellar an adult, but really would like to be able to store fruits and vegetables over the winter months. An old variety I like is Northern Spy. Of the NY Extension apples, an old one I like is the Cortland apple. It looks really nice in Waldorf salads. MY father talks about how wonderful Sheepsnose (Black Gillisflower) apples were, though I don’t think that I’ve had one.

      • I don’t have a root celar…although I truly miss it. I have two huge bins in the bottom of my fridge for veggies… It keeps the apples very well. Last year the orchard even had trouble with their Courtland apples… there seemed to have been some sort of blight. Yes, I wish some orchards would go back and find some of our old varieties instead of growing some of the apple varieties from over seas that taste more like pears to me than apples. I think that a little ingenuity could be used to breed out stronger types of the old favorite… unless of couse if the cultivars have been lost.

  3. [...] The previous day Grandma didn’t have her umbrella when she needed it:  . . . .got a dunking in the rain. Took an umbrella along part way, so it happened that I didn’t have it when I needed it the most. [...]

  4. Hi. We get Yellow Transparents in the fall. I have one apple on a tree at our summer property (I don’t know the variety) and I am watching it grow week by week… hope a bear doesn’t get it first! Jane

    • I picked the first apples off the tree in our yard today. Since the previous owners planted it, I don’t know what variety it is either; but I sure enjoy the apples.

  5. My grandmother had an apple tree in her yard. I don’t know what kind they were but we never ate them raw. She made the best applesauce. I’ve never been able to make mine taste like hers did. Probably because I never had the same kind of apples.

  6. Our favorite is Pink Lady…and you know, I don’t know where they’re grown, that’s really a shame.

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