Monroe shares a tasty treat

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse
I was so taken by all the agricultural related activities at “Olde Time Fun” in August at the Stroud Mansion that I decided that I wanted to know more about farming here in Monroe County in the 19th century.

I didn’t have to leave the Mansion to do my research —the vertical files in the Mansion archives were a rich source of information on local agriculture.
Many of our townships including Hamilton, Polk, Jackson, Chestnuthill, and the area along the Delaware River were ideal for farming.

Farming dramatically changed in the late 1800s with improvements in farm tools. Hand-held tools, used for centuries, were replaced by machines such as power corn shellers, threshing machines, and other mechanized machinery that made it possible for the small farmer to cultivate more land and increase production.

In Monroe County oats, corn, rye, and buckwheat outstripped the production of wheat that by then was being grown extensively in the Midwest.
Monroe County’s proximity to metropolitan areas made it possible to ship fresh milk and butter to cities by rail. Ice harvested from the county’s man-made lakes guaranteed fresh products on arrival in metropolitan areas. Local farmers focused more and more on supplying city dwellers, mining and lumbering communities and villages with milk, maple sugar, hay, potatoes, truck crops, poultry, eggs, and fresh meat.

At “Olde Time Fun,” children and adults alike were enthralled by the bee hive demonstration. Most people did not realize how important bees were to farm and orchard production. Bees were essential to the pollination of fruit and vegetables.

Small apple orchards were found on most farms. In the fall, neighbors often gathered at neighboring farms to make apple butter and apple cider. Children had the chore of peeling the apples. They were enticed by the anticipation of enjoying the treat of sweet dried apple peels in the winter.

Peeling apples became much easier with the invention of the hand-cranked apple peeler. Hundreds of years later the contemporary apple peeler does not look that different than the one found in the Stroud Mansion kitchen.

For those who would like to taste this special treat, I did some research and found a contemporary recipe for dried apple peels. (Below) Enjoy!

  • Heat oven to 225 degrees.
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar.
  • Sprinkle apple peels with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toss to coat evenly.
  • Bake for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until peels are thoroughly dried and snap-crisp when bent.
  • Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to touch.
  • Gently break dried peel into 1-2 inch pieces.