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Old Sturbridge Village prepares for Apple Days

Old Sturbridge Village prepares for Apple Days
A child participates in a past Apple Day at Old Sturbridge Village.

Reminder Publications submitted photo

STURBRIDGE, MASS. -- Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) celebrates the taste and history of an old-fashioned New England apple harvest during its annual Apple Days weekend, Oct. 2 and 3. Visitors can taste nearly forgotten heirloom apple varieties and mulled cider, help the farmers harvest apples, try their hands at cider-making, and see the horse-powered Cider Mill in operation grinding apples.
OSV historians will cook with apples over the hearth in the village's Small House and will make apple pie plates in the pottery shop, apple corers in the tin shop, and mulling irons in the blacksmith shop. Village horticulturists will lead orchard walks and recount the amazing origins of some of today's popular apple varieties. On Oct. 2, Old Sturbridge Village Members compete in the annual apple pie baking contest, and on Oct. 3, visitors can try plowing with the village oxen to start a new seedling orchard.
In the 1830s, apples were used fresh, stored in cellars, dried, or pressed into cider, making them an important food source all year long. Among the finest storage apples were Baldwins and Roxbury Russets, which could keep for months. Children had the important job of checking the apples stored in barrels in the root cellar, making sure that "one bad apple" did not "spoil the bunch."
According to OSV historians, there were once thousands of apple varieties in North America and by the early 1800s, local farmers developed hundreds of unique varieties especially suited to the New England climate. These heirloom apples had distinctive flavors and memorable names like Hubbardston Nonesuch, Rhode Island Greening, Westfield Seek No Further, Sutton Beauty, Northern Spy, Golden Russet, and Cox's Orange Pippin.
Today's supermarkets carry only a few apple varieties in comparison, and they are chosen not for taste, but because they ship well, have a long shelf life, and have dependable harvests.
Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week through Oct. 31, when the winter schedule begins. Admission: $20; seniors $18; children three to 17, $7; children under three, free. For details of all activities and hours of operation, visit www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.