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Author Signed Copies of “The Invention of Nature”

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Andrea Wulf, the acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners, reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world-and in the process created modern environmentalism. Von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes and mountains.

In 1804, at the end of a five year expedition in Central and South America, von Humboldt visited Washington, D.C., specifically to meet President Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson was thrilled ot welcome Humboldt, and was eager to hear all about the lands south of the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase. These meetings were the start of a 21-year friendship and correspondence on topics including science, politics and nature.

andreawulfANDREA WULF was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. She lives in London, where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of Chasing Venus, Founding Gardeners and The Brother Gardeners. She has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

 

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Mirth, Jollity and a Monticello Plum Pudding

 

By Diane Ehrenpreis, Assistant Curator

Details of how the holiday was observed at Monticello are scarce. I recently made a discovery in a set of Jefferson family letters that takes place at Christmas, and provides insights into the comings and goings of the household.

In December (date), Jefferson’s granddaughter Cornelia Randolph composed a hasty letter to her sister, Virginia Randolph Trist, asking her to send the family recipe for plum pudding as quickly as possible.

VRT to CJR 12 22 60 1

Courtesy of the Nicholas Philip Trist Papers #2104, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While Cornelia’s letter does not survive, her request and its urgency are clear in Virginia’s surviving reply. Virginia’s response, which was written in Philadelphia, is dated December 22, probably in 1860. She says, “I received your letter last night and hope the directions for the pudding may reach you to-morrow morning.” And despite having a sick headache, she transcribed and annotated the recipe so that her sister, who may have been with family in Alexandria, Virginia, could have the plum pudding that they both remembered from their childhood.

Once Virginia had copied out the ingredients, the sugar and flour, bread crumbs from a penny loaf bread, the dozen eggs, the cinnamon and citron, the suet and the brandy, she added one powerful word: “Monticello.” Virginia specifically associated this Christmas pudding with Monticello, and by extension, her Christmas past and present. Perhaps Virginia and Cornelia felt the same way about this exact pudding, as I do about my Nana’s Swedish pepparkakor recipe: it is not Christmas without this food.

When I read this exchange between sisters, I was struck by how modern the events seemed. I immediately empathized with Cornelia’s evident upset at not being able to find the pudding recipe. Have we not all been there, especially this time of year?  I was also immensely touched at her sister’s reaction to promptly share and send the recipe, despite feeling poorly. And, what about the U. S. Post Office, and the one-day turn-around time, in 1860!

Just as the Internet has changed how we stay in touch, and it has dramatically changed how I do much of my research. I found this letter while reading scans of the family correspondence available online from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I can now sit at my desk and have access to seemingly unlimited primary material, from here and other collections.

Earlier this year, this same collection yielded a reference to the Randolph family looking forward to playing whist and drinking eggnog at a Christmas gathering in the 1850s. While this may seem too late to apply to Monticello, it likely reveals a tradition that the family had kept for quite a while, considering that both whisk and eggnog first became popular in the 18th century. When I saw the recipe for “plumb pudding” and the date of December 22, I knew this was another discovery to add to our Christmas file.

Please enjoy reading Virginia’s version of the Christmas pudding, and do not overlook her helpful hints for making it a success. Do people still boil pudding for an entire day? I am hopeful that some one of you will take time to create this Christmas dish, so do let us know how it turns out.

“Proportions of a plumb pudding”

4 spoonful of brown sugar-

½ lb of currants-

1lb of raisins-

1 lb of suet- (*modern substitute: butter)

3 spoonfuls of flour-

crumb of a penny loaf of bread grated-

12 eggs-

1 nutmeg-

mace

+ cinnamon 1 spoonful-

citron-

1 teaspoonful of salt-

1 wine glass of brandy.

The ingredients must be prepared and the pudding boiled a long time…a day’s boiling, it is better for it, but when made with bread it is not so necessary as when made with four + is lighter + more wholesome.

The suet should be grated fine and every string…taken out of it (*modern substitute: cream the butter)-the ingredients carefully and thoroughly mixed.

Virginia house wife recommends rubbing the raisins for pudding and cakes in a little flour to prevent their settling to the bottom, taking care the four should not stick to them in lumps.

 The cloth in which the pudding is boiled should be wet + floured + the pudding tied up…

 Put into boiling water and cover…

 If the pudding is boiled some hours the day before it is wanted it may be again put into the pot the following day + boiled as long as necessary.

 It should be kept in a cool place.

 

Interested in hearing more about Monticello holiday traditions? Visit monticello.org for information on holiday programming and events.

 

 

Mary Randolph’s Cornbread Recipe

“Our breakfast table was as large as our Dinner table; … we had tea, coffee, excellent muffins, hot wheat and corn bread, cold ham and butter,” recalled visitor Margaret Bayard Smith. Jefferson’s notes allude to raising corn for bread and Martha Jefferson Randolph referred to the family being “fond” of Indian, or corn, meal. This is Mary Randolph’s recipe, and almost certainly one of the breads served on Jefferson’s table. Its traditional taste is sure to be a hit with family and friends this holiday season.

Thomas Jefferson and his family ate only two meals a day at Monticello: breakfast, typically at eight, and dinner, in the late afternoon.

Mary Randolph’s Cornbread

1 ½ cups whole milk

¼ tsp active dry yeast

1 tbs lukewarm water

2 large eggs

1 tsp salt

2 ounces unsalted butter

10 ounces fine stone-ground white cornmeal

  1. Scaled the milk over medium heat and let it cool to 110 degrees. Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it proof 10 minutes. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and beat together until smooth, and then beat in the milk, yeast, and salt
  2. Rub the butter into the cornmeal with your fingertips until it is evenly distributed and resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center, pour in the liquid ingredients, and quickly stir until the batter is fairly smooth (a few small lumps won’t matter). Cover and set in a warm place until slightly risen and thick with small air bubbles, at least 1 hour and as long as 2 hours.
  3. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 12-cup standard muffin pan and divide the batter among the cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until puffed, golden brown, and set, about 35 minutes. The bread will begin to separate from the edges of the pan when it is done.

monticello-fruit-butter-gift-basket-202Serve this delicate and delicious bread with Smithfield Virginia Country Ham, a real southern favorite. This cooked country ham is aged and smoked, but for only about half the curing time. Tender and lean, each mouthwatering bite leaves a mild, smoky and less salty taste on the palate. If you prefer a sweeter pairing, Monticello Sweet Potato Butter goes wonderfully with cornbread. This delicious, creamy spread is made of sweet potatoes, sugar, spices and citric acid, with no preservatives. It’s made for us in Frederick County, Virginia at a family-owned farm and cannery started in 1828.

diningatmonticelloFor more historic recipes, check out Dining at Monticello. An inviting view of the renowned hospitality offered at Thomas Jefferson’s table. Ten essays discuss topics such as the groceries and wine imported from Europe, the recent kitchen restoration and the African Americans who participated in Monticello’s rich food culture at every stage. Seventy-five delicious recipes from Jefferson family manuscripts, updated by Editor Damon Lee Fowler, are authentic to the period and accessible to today’s home cook.

 

Jefferson’s Wine Jelly Recipe

“I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk, & restorative cordial.”                      

-Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, Aug. 17, 1811

We have reams of material on the food and cookery of Thomas Jefferson’s day in Virginia–much of it recorded by Jefferson himself. In addition to all of his garden book references of food coming “to table,” Jefferson made endless accounts of household provisions and numerous culinary observations in his Memorandum books. The recipe below is one of 10 he wrote out in his own hand.

Wine jellies were once considered delicate and rare confections. Traditionally made from gelatin extracted from calves’ feet, today this elegant dish can be simplified with ordinary gelatin.

Wine Jelly

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Three different styles of Monticello jelly glasses are known (above). Following Jefferson’s death, Martha Randolph’s inventory noted “21 cut & 3 plain jelly glasses.”

Serves 6

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

4 cups water

2 cups Madeira or dry sherry

3 cups water

3 large egg whites, shells reserved

1 cup sugar

3 envelopes granulated gelatin

1 cup cold water

  1. Pare the rind from 2 of the lemons in long pieces with a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife. Juice the lemons and strain into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the rind, spice, and water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the Madeira or sherry and let it cool.
  2. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Crush the shells and beat them into the whites. Stir this into the wine mixture, return it to medium-low heat, and bring it slowly to a simmer. Meanwhile, wet a large piece of muslin (un-dyed plain cotton fabric), wring it out thoroughly, and line a wire strainer with it. Set this over a bowl that will just hold the strainer near its rim.
  3. When the egg has solidified and floated to the top, push it to one side and check the clarity of the liquid. If it is clear, skim most of the egg away and ladle the liquid into the trainer. Leave it to slowly drip into the bowl. (This takes some time, so be patient and do not stir or agitate it.) The liquid that drips through the strainer should be perfectly clear.
  4. Clean the saucepan and return the clarified liquid to it. Bring it back to a simmer over medium heat, stir in the sugar until dissolved, and simmer until the liquid is clear again. Meanwhile, put the gelatin in a large bowl and stir in the cool water. Let soften for 10 minutes and stir in the hot liquid. Continue stirring until the gelatin is completely dissolved and the liquid is somewhat cooled. To speed up the cooling process, set the bowl in an ice bath and stir constantly until it is cold but not yet beginning to jell.
  5. Pour it into small, stemmed glasses or shallow champagne goblets, cover and chill until set, about 4 hours. Alternatively the jelly may set in a shallow pan, then be broken up with a spoon or knife, and spooned into stemmed glasses.

Serve this classic delicacy with traditional Monticello stemware. These glasses, with their clean forms and exquisite engraving, speak volumes about Jefferson’s taste for fine design. Jefferson purchased a great deal of glassware between 1767 and 1821, but very little survives. The Shop at Monticello’s reproduction stemware is based on a rare original and is made of mouth-blown full lead crystal, cut and etched by hand with a sprig and wheel band. Slight variations among the glasses are hallmarks of handmade glass.

diningatmonticelloFor more historic recipes, check out Dining at Monticello. An inviting view of the renowned hospitality offered at Thomas Jefferson’s table. Ten essays discuss topics such as the groceries and wine imported from Europe, the recent kitchen restoration and the African Americans who participated in Monticello’s rich food culture at every stage. Seventy-five delicious recipes from Jefferson family manuscripts, updated by Editor Damon Lee Fowler, are authentic to the period and accessible to today’s home cook.

Win Our Holiday Favorites

pinitGlobeFlutes1The Shop at Monticello is offering a NEW holiday contest this year! Anyone can head on over to Pinterest and Pin to Win a Monticello Musical Snow Globe.

Monticello is truly beautiful after a new snow. Our highly collectible snow globe is an accurate three dimensional view of the home of Thomas Jefferson. The semicircular globe sits on a faux wood resin base. The snow globe plays Mozart’s Eline Kleine Nachtmusik, a song well known to Jefferson. 4 1/2″ diameter, 5 1/4″ high. Available for $56.

Attending a Monticello Holiday Event? Pin a photo from your visit with the hashtag #MonticelloHoliday and you could win the Monticello Musical Snow Globe and a Monticello Toasting Flutes Gift Set! Anyone who participates in a Wreath or Gingerbread House Workshop, the Holiday Open House, our Holiday Classic 5K, Handmade for the Holidays or a Holiday Evening Tour is eligible to enter.

cvr_champagne_smallJefferson was a true connoisseur. Monticello champagne flutes, with their clean forms and exquisite engraving, speak volumes about his taste for fine design. Very little of the glassware Jefferson purchased between 1767 and 1821 survives. Our stemware, based on a rare original, is mouth-blown full lead crystal, cut and etched by hand with a sprig and wheel band.

Each exclusive Toasting Flutes Gift Set includes two handmade champagne flutes nestled in a black velvet-lined gift box tied with Monticello ribbon. Toast the new year with style and celebrate weddings, anniversaries or other momentous occasions with our sophisticated stemware. Each 5-oz. glass is 9″h and the set is a $149 value.

For more of The Shop’s seasonal favorites, visit http://www.monticelloshop.org/home-decor-seasonal.html

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Crispy Pickled Green Beans with Mary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar

Although few recipes from Thomas Jefferson’s household survive, in 1824 Mary Randolph, Jefferson’s daughter Martha’s sister-in-law published The Virginia Housewife, a cookbook that we believe contains many recipes Jefferson enjoyed. There was much contact between the Monticello family and Mrs. Randolph in the ten years before Jefferson’s death, so it is likely that Monticello dining inspired Mary. One intriguing recipe we are left with is Randolph’s pepper vinegar, a spicy component that can be used in contemporary refrigerator pickles.  With summer party and picnic season is in full swing, pick your favorite local ingredients and try a jar or two of these quick Crispy Pickled Green Beans using Mary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar for that extra kick.

pepper-vinegarMGMMary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar

6 to 8 ancho chile peppers or peppers of your choice

  1. Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to 2 cups.
  2. Remove and reserve the chile peppers. Set the pepper vinegar aside to cool.

 

pickled-beans-jarMGMPickled Green Beans

Makes 1 jar

½ pound fresh French green beans

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon “Cabernet Sauvignon” peppercorns from the Herb and Spice Wine Pairings Set

Fresh dill

¾ cup Mary Randolph’s pepper vinegar

½ cup water

2 garlic cloves, smashed once

2 peppers reserved from the vinegar

1 teaspoon local honey

 

  1. Place the green beans right side up in a clean Mason jar.  Add the salt, peppercorns, and a couple sprigs of dill.  Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic cloves, peppers, and honey to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for two minutes.
  3. Remove the garlic cloves and peppers and add to the Mason jar.  Carefully pour the brine into the Mason jar.
  4. Place lid on Mason jar and refrigerate for seven days until ready to eat.

MonticelloRecipe_BlogKaty Woods is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.

NEW Red, White, and Blue!

“…the paper of July 4.76 was but the Declaration, the genuine effusion of the soul of our country at that time.” -Thomas Jefferson to James Mease, September 16, 1825

fourth-of-july-picnic-set-for-two-4Decorate and dine with festive American flare this Memorial Day or Fourth of July! These new selections are perfect for your patriotic summer picnic or party.

Looking for a ready-to-go celebration? The Shop at Monticello’s Fourth of July Picnic Set includes packs of 8 paper dinner plates, 8 paper dessert plates and 20 cocktail napkins, two sets of red, white and blue silverware, two travel wine glasses, a tin bucket, two reproduction Declarations of Independence, three little 15-star flags and four fun firecracker mini-torch candles, all packed in a stylish red-and-white striped canvas tote.

The Shop’s Travel Wine Glass with Liberty Quote is an essential picnic accessory, featuring Jefferson’s immortal words “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

cotton-bunting-4-x-8-4Draw on classic American designs and historical traditions for your patriotic gathering or Independence Day party. Red, white and blue cotton bunting made in the U.S.A. is the perfect design centerpiece for your celebration.

Salute the season with historical and modern American flag accents. Flag-themed rugs are a wonderful way to greet guests and flag-themed throws invite your guests, family and friends to wrap themselves in American comfort.

Accentuate your walls with a patriotic pop. Framed reproductions of American flags, historical prints and classic silhouettes, similar to those in Jefferson’s Monticello Parlor, showcase American pride and history.

For a truly inspirational experience, celebrate the Fourth of July morning at Monticello, the home of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Since 1963, more than 3,000 people from every corner of the globe have taken the oath of citizenship at the annual Monticello Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony. David M. Rubenstein will be the featured speaker on July 4, 2014 at Monticello’s 52nd Annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony—the oldest continuous naturalization ceremony held outside of a courtroom in the United States. Rubenstein is best known as co-Founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager.

The Revolving Bookstand: Jefferson, Architecture & Monticello

“Architecture is my delight, and putting up and pulling down, one of my favorite amusements.”
–Thomas Jefferson (as told by Margaret Bayard Smith)

monticellov3

 

Jefferson spent much of his life “putting up and pulling down,” most notably during the forty-year construction period of Monticello. Influenced by his readings of ancient and modern architectural writings, Jefferson gleaned the best from both his reading and from his observations in Europe, creating in his architectural designs a style that was distinctively American.  In this month’s Revolving Bookstand, Monticello’s Architectural Historian, Gardiner Hallock, recommends three “must reads” for anyone interested in Jefferson’s architectural influences and his home Monticello.

measureddrawingsMonticello in Measured Drawings annotated by William L. Beiswanger

Delve deeper into the design of Monticello with this illuminating collection of short essays and accompanying measured drawings of Monticello produced by the Historic American Buildings Survey.  Annotated by Monticello’s former Director of Restoration William Beiswanger, the essays draw on decades of research to illustrate many of Jefferson’s architectural inspirations and include revealing quotes about the house made by Jefferson’s contemporaries.  The result is a truly wonderful architectural history of this World Heritage site and it is a must have for anyone who loves Monticello.

 

The Four Books of Architecture by Andrea Palladio

fourbooksaColonel Isaac Coles wrote that when it came to architecture Thomas Jefferson considered 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture to be “the bible.” Coles also noted that Jefferson recommended he “should get it and stick close to it.”  While Jefferson’s architectural influences were wide ranging, the core proportions and principal ornamentation found at Monticello often come directly from Palladio’s interpretation of classical Roman sources.  A source of inspiration for almost 450 years, The Four Books of Architecture remains relevant to the today’s architects and designers.

 

palladioPalladio and Palladianism by Robert Travernor

Interested in why Jefferson was so passionate about Palladio?  Robert Tavernor’s book introduces Andrea Palladio, explains the Italian roots of Palladianism, and traces its spread into the British Isles in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Concluding with a chapter on Thomas Jefferson’s unique interpretation of Palladio’s work as well as Palladianism in the early United States, this book is a great read for those interested in the origins of Jefferson’s architectural style.

 

gardiner4Gardiner Hallock is the Architectural Historian at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Currently he is managing the digital and physical restoration of Monticello’s Mulberry Row as well as helping to research, plan, and implement restoration projects in the house. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mr. Hallock was a founding principal at the historic preservation consulting firm Arcadia Preservation, LLC.  He also served as the Director of Architectural Research at the Montpelier Foundation and the Restoration Manager at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.  

 

The Revolving Bookstand: Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an

Eleven years before composing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson bought a Qur’an. How did this purchase influence Jefferson and what role did Islam play with other American Founding Fathers? Wm. Scott Harrop reviews Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders by Denise Spellberg in this month’s Revolving Bookstand feature.

Thomas Jefferson's Quran

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

In 2007, when Congressman Keith Ellison borrowed a Qur’an once owned by Thomas Jefferson for his ceremonial oath of office, he renewed a debate as old as the American republic.  For some critics, a Muslim holding elected office constitutes a fundamental threat to American identity, an anathema to its founding values.

In Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, Denise A. Spellberg, Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas, counters that key America founders contemplated Islam in civic life.  In Spellberg’s judgment, an “American Muslim citizen with full civil rights” is “quintessentially evocative of our national ideals.”

Jefferson’s ownership of a Qur’an provides Spellberg with an intriguing hook for her inquiry.  Proof that Jefferson owned a copy of the Qur’an is preserved in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.  There, the “Virginia Gazette Daybook” records that on October 5, 1765, Thomas Jefferson, then a law student at William & Mary, purchased George Sale’s venerable translation of the Qur’an.  While no direct notes from Jefferson’s reading of the Qur’an survive, Spellberg draws inferences about Jefferson’s understanding (and misimpressions) of Islam from scattered writings and his own policy views and choices made amid his encounters with Muslims.

Thomas Jeffersons Quran Islam and the Founders by Denise Spellberg

Even as Spellberg details Jefferson’s criticisms of Islam as a religion, she demonstrates that Jefferson, like James Madison and George Washington, advocated religious freedom and civic rights for Muslims, as they did for Catholics and Jews.   Going beyond Locke, Jefferson’s critical innovation was not just to “tolerate” religious dissent, but to assert the full inclusion of citizens and public servants from all faiths – or none at all. Yet just how and why Jefferson and his concurring founders arrived at this stance deserves further exploration.

Amid the decade long political fight for passage of his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Jefferson famously wrote that, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.” Spellberg notes that despite Jefferson’s profession to be a Christian, his political foes, including John Quincy Adams, abused Jefferson’s own words to slur him as an “infidel,” a Muslim. He has certainly not been the last American president to face this charge.

During his presidency, Jefferson clashed with North African Muslim powers as Barbary corsairs attacked American merchant ships and demanded ransoms. Although Spellberg dubs Jefferson the first President of the United States to “wage war against an Islamic power,” he was also the first to make peace with them.  She assesses that Jefferson “never perceived a predominantly religious dimension to the conflict” and may have even used faith as a bridge to resolve the disputes.

Spellberg’s remarkable inquiry demonstrates that even as early America inherited Europe’s deep fears of Muslims, it also established original principles for their equal inclusion in public life.  Both timely and enlightening, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders deserves wide consideration.

harroplowresWm. Scott Harrop is a Lecturer in the University of Virginia’s Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian and Languages and Cultures.  Since early 2011, he’s been teaching courses on “Recent Revolutions in the Islamic World” — through a Jeffersonian prism.  He’s also a past Jefferson Fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.

Jefferson and Apples

Of the many fruit species Thomas Jefferson cultivated in his Monticello gardens, his collection of apple trees were one of his most consistently successful crops. Peter J. Hatch,  the Director of Monticello Gardens and Grounds for over 34 years, said, “The apple was a standard, every-day fruit at Monticello…Jefferson’s cultivation of the apple was exceptionally discriminating as he concentrated on only four varieties.” Jefferson’s eight-acre Fruit Garden, called the “Fruitery” in Jefferson’s Memorandum notes, yielded a wide variety of fruit trees and special fruit plants. Included within the Fruitery was the North Orchard, a grove of about two hundred apple and peach trees. These trees were propagated from seed, which often resulted in interesting variations that remained unnamed and were unique to Jefferson’s garden.

With Jefferson’s favorite apple trees cultivated by the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants and featured at The Shop at Monticello, you can plant your own Fruitery. Each hardy variety produces a unique and delicious fruit that you can enjoy year after year.

Roxbury Russet

apple_roxburyrussetDescription: Vintage variety. Semi-dwarf, deciduous fruit tree. Grows 10 to 12 feet high. Extremely productive variety, stores well through the winter.

Taste: The fruit has a greenish skin and a crisp, tart taste which ripens in early fall. Great for eating fresh, cooking, homemade cider and juice.

History: Jefferson planted several “Roxbury Russet” trees in Monticello’s South Orchard in 1778, referring to them as “russetings” because of the distinctive flaking russets on the skin of the fruit. These were one of the more popular apple varieties in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Albemarle Pippin

albemarle-pippin-apple-tree-malus-cv-3[1]Description: Heirloom variety. Limited distribution in United States. Semi-dwarf, deciduous fruit tree. Grows 1o to 12 feet high. Stores well during cold months in a cool cellar or refrigerator.

Taste: The fruit flesh is greenish-white, juicy, crisp, tart, and with a fine aroma. Considered one of the best keeping apples.

History: The “Albemarle Pippin” was one of Jefferson’s two favorite table apples. He planted as many as 50 Albemarle Pippins in the Monticello Fruitery between 1769 and 1814. Benjamin Franklin reputedly introduced the variety into England as an example of superior American fruit.

Esopus Spitzenburg

esopus_spitzenburgDescription: Semi-dwarf, deciduous fruit tree. Grows 12 to 15 feet high. Bears handsome red apples which ripen in late autumn.

Taste: Fruit features a firm, juicy yellow flesh with a delicious, brisk, rich flavor. Particularly excellent for baking pies.

History: The “Esopus Spitzenburg” was Jefferson’s other favorite apple variety. He planted 32 of these trees in the Monticello Fruitery between 1807 and 1812. This apple variety is still considered one of the world’s finest today.

Hewes Crab

Hewes' Crab or VaCrabApple.sjDescription: Hardy fruit tree that can be grown as an ornamental. Grows to eight feet. Yields small rounded fruits of a dull red streaked with green, which ripen in early autumn.

Taste: Fruit produces a delicious cinnamon-flavored cider that is both sugary and pungent. Considered the finest cider apple by apple connoisseurs.

History: This was the most common fruit variety grown in eighteenth-century Virginia. Jefferson planted his entire North Orchard exclusively with this variety from which several batches of homemade cider were made over the years.

 

Made at Monticello

Even if you don’t grow your own, you can still bring ‘apples’ to your table! Monticello Handcrafted Apple Spoons are created from branches pruned from apple trees in Monticello’s Orchard. The spoons are beautiful and functional, perfect for serving salad or a delicious fruit cobbler dessert.

Our collection of fruit butters are the perfect addition to a breakfast or lunch spread. Wonderful on biscuits, toast, and sandwiches, Monticello’s Apple Butter, Peach Butter, and Strawberry Butter are staff favorites. Our fruit butters contain no preservatives and are truly versatile spreads.

Monticello kitchen records reveal that apple cider was a staple beverage at most meals. Jefferson’s extensive apple orchards were vital to the production of his homemade cider. The non-alcoholic Monticello Sparkling Cider is reminiscent of the third president’s preferred beverage.

For more information on Jefferson and apples, check out these staff favorites:

Apples of North America is brimming with beautiful portraits of heirloom and modern apples of merit, each accompanied by distinguishing characteristics and common uses. As the view broadens to the orchard, you will find information on planting, pruning, grafting, and more. The exploration of the apple culminates with an overview of the fruit’s transformative capabilities when pressed, fermented, cooked, or dried.

The Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello details Jefferson’s extensive Fruitery and orchards. Jefferson cultivated over 170 kinds of temperate fruits; this book explores his methods and research that helped him become a successful fruit farmer.

The Best Apples to Buy and Grow provides plenty of information on growing and cultivating apples in your backyard, as well as tips on purchasing and cooking with apples. It’s handy to take along when visiting farmer’s markets and roadside stands, and will help buyers choose from the bounty of treasured heirloom breeds and tasty new types.