Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Apple of My Eye

Mom and I truly enjoyed walking around the homes within Pioneer Village because most of them were furnished with the original furniture and belongings of the families who once resided there. While many of the buildings exhibited signs of water damage and shifting (maybe during the move to the site), the wear and tear seemed like nothing compared to the beauty that was also displayed in each room: ornate wallpaper, intricately woven carpet, handmade braided rugs, embroidered pillowcases and table runners, and the oh-so-beautiful quilts.

The kitchen (above) was filled with beautiful embroidery and furnishings from when the family last lived in the house. This quilt, however, was displayed upstairs in the home of H. J. Ludlow with some of the older family heirlooms, and I would love to know the name of the pattern if you or anyone in your family knows it. Since I'm having difficulties with quilting simple squares, this seems like a lot of work. But, it is an interesting pattern.

Mr. H. J. Ludlow is known up north for "giving the Okabena Apple to the world." He named the apple the Okabena after the lake on which his farm fronted. Okabena is a Native American term and means "Home of the Heron."

Mr. Ludlow does not claim to be the originator of the apple. Mr. G. J. Hoffman, a trapper and the first known settler to live through a winter near Lake Okabena, receives that credit. In 1868, Mr. Hoffman homesteaded the area. In 1880, he purchased a pint of seed from Mr. Peter Gideon who is said to have originated the Wealthy Apple variety. And, the seeds he received were a mixture of Wealthy and Duchess Apple seeds. Three years later, after becoming disgusted with the harsh winters, Mr. Hoffman sold his farm to Mr. Ludlow so that his family could move to the warmer climate of California.

Soon after Mr. Ludlow took possession, the small seedlings that Mr. Hoffman planted started to develop, and one in particular gave promise of yielding fruit of superior quality. In the coming years, the new apple started receiving attention from horticulturalists, and Mr. Ludlow's apples began receiving one prize after another.

I could not find many current references to the Okabena Apple outside of Minnesota, so I cannot provide a picture of one. (Have you ever heard of it?) However, this is how it is was described, along with much of the history of this family in the September 19, 1929 "Worthington Globe": The Okabena Apple is about the size, color and flavor of its parent, the Duchess; however it is somewhat more flattened in shape, a little finer grained and will easily keep a month or two longer. The tree is quite hardy and is a precocious bearer. (Below are a couple of quotes from Mr. Ludlow about his apple business.)

I have an apple tree in my back yard, but no one has yet been able to identify the variety. I do not think the tree will yield any fruit this year because of our late, harsh frost, but hopefully, someday, I can take an apple or two to one of the nearby orchard owners. All of this was just a reminder that I have no idea what apples are best for what cooking projects.... and I have no idea where they were first found. Each time I go to the store, I must rely on the little signs that are above each variety to see which ones are best for pies, applesauce, baked apples or eating raw.

Here are the ones that are most common in the stores and roadside stands around this area, and this is what my research has uncovered:

  • Red Delicious: Found in Peru, IA as a "chance seedling" of Mr. J Hiatt. First sold in 1874. Red, crisp apple that is great for snacking or in salads.
  • Golden Delicious: Clay County, WV in 1914. Thought to be a mix between Golden Reinette and Grimes Golden. Great all-purpose yellow apple.
  • Gala: Pink-ish peach stripes over yellow background. New Zealand. Sold in 1965. Good for snacking and salads. Crisp, sweet, and aromatic.
  • Fuji: 1962 in Japan. Full of flavor and holds its texture when it is baked. Used in baking and salads. Reddish-pink skin.
  • Granny Smith: Green, tart, and crisp. A favorite of pie bakers, it was discovered in 1868 in Australia. Thought to be a form of French crabapples that were grown by grandmother Maria Ann Smith.
  • Jonagold: Juicy, orange-tinted apple used for snacking, salads and pies. Introduced to the market in 1968 in New York as a cross between Jonathan Gold and Golden Delicious. Tangy-sweet.
  • Cameo: Sweet with a crunch. Red with characteristic white spots. First sold in 1987 after being found as a "chance seedling" in Dryden, WA. Holds its texture for long periods.

So, does your family have a favorite apple to eat fresh from the tree (or store)? Or, does grandma use only one certain kind to make her pies? Do you have apples that are very common in your area that aren't listed here?


Anonymous said...

I gave a speech one time at Toastmasters regarding the Red Delicious Apple. Your Grandpa (my dad)told me one time that the five bumps on the bottom of the Red Delicious apple stood for S-T-A-R-K which was once an ad campaign for the Stark nursery. I contacted Stark and they knew nothing about it, but sent me info regarding Jesse Hiatt and the Red Delicious apple. Pretty interesting story at this site:

By the way, my speech won the contest. I just wanted to get to the core of the Red Delicious story. Who knows what other comments might stem from this one.

Piano Man

strem said...

Just leave it to Dad to start the puns again. I hope Mom knows that someone pretty saucy is be-cider.

Anonymous said...

I must have inherited my desire to make apple puns from my Great Granny Smith.

Piano Man

Chelle said...

I'm not a fan of fruit, but I love a good, crisp, tart Granny Smith apple!

Dani said...

We eat Red Delicious, but occasionally as a treat we go to Grandmother's and she'll have us a Granny Smith.

strem said...

Piano Man, you're one bad seed. (Please don't think I'm a crab for saying so.)

LL Watkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LL Watkins said...

Hey there! I just saw your post about the Okabena and as a Great-Grandaughter of Horace Judson Ludlow, felt the need to reply. The apple tree in your yard is not an Okabena but it does look uncommon. Here is a picture of Okabena apples on the tree at Bedford Industries, Worthington, Minnesota. Enjoy!


(It wouldn't let me post a direct link=( )
Good luck with your search!

-L Desiree Lynne W