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Dr. James N. Cummins

Stories from Cummins Nursery

About Cummins >> A family business >> Stories >> Dad's Corner

This is a section of Cummins Nursery dedicated to stories (preferably in some way connected to fruit and/or farming). We are open to stories you send in as well!!!

Kicking Leaves in Mr. Gage's Orchard | The Drive from Kinmundy | The Yellow Transparent Orchard | The Spray Crew |Hoodlin' |Loading Reefers | Ben Davis | Thirsty Cider | Backyard Orchards | Dad, Peeling Apples | Little Pearl and the Hot Box | Applebutter Time

Thirsty Cider

Lots of folks complain about those big red Delicious from Washington state being all dry and mealy once you get your teeth through the tough skin. But I tell you, you don't know "dry and mealy" till you've chewed a Ben Davis apple.

Eating a Ben Davis apple was an experience you remembered. Ol' Ben was a pretty enough apple, brilliant red skin on the outside and the inside a pure white. But in your mouth, that pure white apple turned into pure white cotton; only difference was that the Ben Davis didn't lodge fibers in your teeth.

Back 40 years ago, when son Jamie was a student at Cornell, he was experimenting with cider blends. He'd put together all sorts of mixes -- basically Macs and Delicious and Goldens and such-like, but with different special varieties added in -- usually English cider apples or their cousins from Normandy, sometimes Chestnut Crab, or Dolgo, or Transcendant. He always built up his rack of pulp with the special variety he was testing on the bottom "cheese", and then the regular Delicious and Macs and Goldens racked on top.

One Saturday afternoon I brought Jamie a bushel of Ben Davis to try; told him that would give a special dry character to his cider. Somewhat doubtfully, Jamie ground up the Ben Davis, racked the pulp, racked the regular basic varieties on top, and began to screw down his press.

Now you could see juice begin to flow from the top four racks, the Delicious and Goldens and Macs, but none from the rack of Ben Davis pulp. Jamie kept putting on the pressure, but still no juice came into the catch-vat at all -- the Ben Davis pulp was soaking up every drop. Jamie kept pressing away, and pretty soon we heard a great "burp" from the cider press, and an empty gurgle form the half-filled cider barrel.

That bushel of Ben Davis had soaked up all the Delicious and Mac and Golden Delicious juice from the racks above and then had emptied that half-filled barrel of cider for dessert!!

-- from The Orchard Remembered.

Dr. James N. Cummins
Emeritus Professor of Pomology
Cornell University

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