Author Signed Copies of “The Invention of Nature”


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.






Snail Flower, “the most beautiful bean in the world”


Heirloom flowers are cultivating a devoted following. This spring planting season, choose tried-and-true historic plants over mass-market plants like Jefferson’s beloved Caracalla Bean Vine (aka Snail Flower) just featured in The Wall Street Journal article “A Guide to Planting Heirloom Flowers-With Links to Thomas Jefferson and More.” Read the article >>

snail-flower-vigna-caracalla-4In 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Hawkins, “The most beautiful bean in the world is the caracalla bean which, though in England a greenhouse plant, will grow in the open air in Virginia and Carolina.” Imported from tropical South America, it was found in American gardens by the 1830s, when Robert Buist wrote in The American Flower Garden Directory, “Snail-Flower is a very curious blooming plant, with flowers … all spirally twisted, in great profusion when the plant is grown well.” This spectacular flower was popular in florists’ corsages by the late 19th-century.

The Snail Flower ships in late April, so order yours today! Shop our entire collection of hard-to-find plants now >>

Shop Spring 2016 Plants Now

Monticello Favorite: Butterfly Weed

A Colorful & Lively Addition to a Summer Garden!


The Shop at Monticello’s featured plant, Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterfly Weed, is currently in full bloom in the beautiful gardens at Monticello. Don’t let the name fool you! This plant’s vibrant orange and red coloring, as well its attraction to Monarch Butterflies and other pollinators, add a splash of color and life to any garden.

This lively plant requires very little maintenance. Locals can attest to the unpredictable nature of Virginia’s climate, and the difficulty of finding plants that can survive such varying conditions. Butterfly Weed is deer resistant and drought tolerant, which makes it a perfect addition to a summer garden. It has a long-lasting summer bloom and serves as a great cut flower. The rich orange and red flowers can be enjoyed outdoors and indoors during even the hottest months of the year.

Butterfly Weed is historic by nature, not only because of its Virginia roots, but thanks to its direct connection to Jefferson. Jefferson cites this native wildflower, under the name Pleurisy Root in Notes on the State of Virginia.


Interested in starting a summer garden or adding the finishing touches to an existing garden? Butterfly Weed should be planted in a sunny and well drained area, and pairs well with Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa), Long-leaved Speedwell (Veronica longifolia), and Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odorata).

Butterfly Weed is a great plant to add life, vibrancy, and bit of history to any garden! This plant is available to purchase at The Shop at Monticello in the Garden Center. The 6” flower pot costs $7.95.

To learn more about Butterfly Weed visit http://www.monticelloshop.org/631003.html!


In Bloom at Monticello: Scarlet Pentapetes

Scarlet MallowIf you have visited Monticello recently, you may have enjoyed the vibrant Scarlet Pentapetes that has been flowering near by the winding walk. Jefferson sowed seed of this tender annual along his flower border in 1811, calling it “Scarlet Mallow.”  He likely received seed from Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon, who noted the flower in his book, The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806.

Scarlet Pentapetes (Pentapetes phoenicea), a member of the chocolate family, is rarely cultivated in America. This unusual plant of the Old World Tropics blossoms with rich scarlet, mallow like blooms that open at noon and close at dawn, accented by olive green foliage with serrated edges. Growing between three to five feet, the Scarlet Pentapetes prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained garden loam.

The Shop at Monticello offers seeds that are a representation of the species Scarlet Pentapetes with its tropical red blossom.  Direct sow or transplant to a sunny location after the last frost and they will grow up to five feet. It makes a handsome accent plant in the garden.Peggy

Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants, has worked at Monticello since 1983. She graduated from The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (English and botany) and the Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware. Peggy is a writer, published author, and frequent lecturer specializing in the history of gardens and plants. She edits Magnolia, the publication of the Southern Garden History Society.

Staff Pick: Calendula

monticellostore_2271_38036677Calendula, or Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis), is a great plant in both seed and flower. TJ sowed “Marygold,” an old name for Calendula, on April 2, 1767, at Shadwell. The seeds have a rather interesting shape: they resemble cat’s claws, according to a longtime Monticello groundskeeper. Showing a preference for cooler temperatures, the cheery yellow flowers of the annual Calendula brighten up the spring and fall garden. As a bonus, the flower petals are edible and make a lovely addition to salads. Calendula’s medicinal properties have been recognized for centuries, and the flowers were once used to dye food and fabrics yellow. It can also be used to make a healing salve.

calendulaofficinalisLDThe Shop at Monticello offers seeds that are a representation of the species or wild type of Calendula with its single yellow and orange flowers. Plant the seeds in a sunny or partially-shaded site in the early spring to achieve a showy display before the hot temperatures of summer. Thin seedlings so they are six to twelve inches apart. There are approximately 20-30 seeds per pack. You can also enjoy Calendula in Petal and Vine Botanical Wax Sachets or plant the seeds as part of the Monticello Children’s Garden Kit.

lily-fox-bruguiereLily Fox-Brugiere is the Garden and Outreach Coordinator for The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. The CHP, established at Monticello in 1987, collects, preserves, and distributes historic plant varieties and strives to promote greater appreciation for the origins and evolution of garden plants. The program centers on  Jefferson’s horticultural interests and the plants he grew at Monticello, but covers the broad history of plants cultivated in America by including varieties documented through the nineteenth century, and choice North American plants, a group of special interest to Jefferson himself.


Soothe Your Senses with this Heirloom Herb

lavandula_stoechasThomas Jefferson grew lavender at Monticello. His records show it listed  for planting in the kitchen garden as early as 1794. Valued for its small purple flowers as well as for its fragrant gray leaves, lavender has been grown and used in Europe since at least the twelfth century. At Monticello, the herb was made into soaps and oils for bathing fragrances and used in medicinal treatments.  Today, English Lavender flowers brighten Monticello’s West Lawn and Vegetable gardens with rich hues of purple and emerald. Infused with aromatic oils, lavender has been a popular household herb for centuries. It is highly regarded for its ability to nourish and cleanse skin, while its sweet, floral aroma soothes the senses. The Monticello Shop offers a variety of lavender bed & bath products that will transform your home into a haven of calm serenity.

Rejuvenate Your Senses


The Lavender Spa Trio is a mini at-home spa treat. The trio features lavender-peppermint foot balm, lavender hand creme with mango seed butter, and lavender sea salt bath crystals. This relaxing gift is perfect for Mother’s Day (or anytime)!

The Monticello Lavender Bath Set facilitates ultimate relaxation guests and housemates. The boxed set includes three lavender soaps milled in the style of 18th century toiletries, a container of lavender talcum powder, and a soft powder puff. A beautiful gift or personal indulgence.

purple flowers


Revitalize Your Home

  lavender-sachets-by-the-yard-203[1]drawer linershttp://www.monticelloshop.org/631023.htmlmonticellostore_2272_110713743[1]

Lavender sachets keep clothes smelling beautifully fresh while repelling moths and protecting natural fibers. Our Lavender Sachets feature a full yard of dried lavender seeds wrapped in lilac organza. Perfect for hanging in the closet or cutting apart to place inside drawers. The French Stamp Sachet Trio features three lavender sachets decorated with old French stamp motifs and are convenient for placing inside dresser compartment.

For long-lasting freshness, hang Lavender Hanger Covers in your closet. The Hanger Covers are filled with dried lavender and repel moths and other insects. Lavender Drawer Liners are perfect for lining dresser drawers, linen closets, and storage boxes. Each sheet retains its lavender qualities for a long, long time, leaving you relaxed and worry-free!

Heirloom Okra and True Virginia Gumbo

In Notes on the State of Virginia, begun in 1781, Thomas Jefferson recorded that the gardens of his native state “yield musk melons, water melons, tomatoes, okra, pomegranates, figs, and the esculent plants of Europe.” It wasn’t until 1809, however, that Jefferson began to plant okra on an annual basis at Monticello.

Jefferson experimented with this African native. He generally planted okra in late March or early April. In 1817, for instance, he noted its planting in Monticello’s Vegetable Garden on April 2 and its arrival at table on July 28, over sixteen weeks later. In 1813, Jefferson edged his “square,” or plot of tomatoes with okra – a rather unusual combination of plant textures.











When Southern Living’s “Grumpy Gardener” Steve Bender visited Monticello, he was delighted to see Cow’s Horn Okra, an heirloom variety with distinctive curved fruits, still growing in the Vegetable Garden today. Bender says okra is the “quintessential southern vegetable” and that Jefferson popularized many of today’s culinary southern staples.

okraA member of the mallow family, okra is both tasty and beautiful with large, handsome yellow flowers. The young fruiting pods were often combined with tomatoes for soups in Jefferson family recipes. Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, left a recipe for okra soup, in effect “gumbo,” marking the early Africanization of the cooking of Virginia gentry. Gumbo works as a compelling metaphor for Monticello’s garden:  a rich blend of American native vegetables grown by American Indians like lima beans and cymlins mixed with South and Central American discoveries adapted by both northern (potatoes) and southern (tomatoes) Europeans, and tied together by an African plant, okra.

The gumbo recipe below was attributed to Martha Randolph in her daughter Virginia Randolph Trist’s manuscript and edited for modern use by Damon Lee Fowler in Dining at Monticello. The recipe is derived from classic African “long-pot” cooking and served with rice as per West African tradition. For authenticity, try this soup with fresh okra, truly vine-ripened tomatoes, and an all-natural, grain-fed chicken weighing no more than three pounds.

Okra Soup

Serves 18 

4 quarts water

1 pound young okra (each 2 to 3 inches long), trimmed and slice

1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cups fresh lima beans, or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen lima beans, thawed


  whole black pepper in a pepper mill

1 chicken (3 ½ pounds), cut up as for frying, setting aside the back and neck for another use

4 ounces salt pork, sliced about ¼ inch think and blanched

2 large sprigs each fresh parsley and thyme, tied together in a bundle with kitchen twine

1 pound (about 3 medium) pattypan or yellow summer squash, trimmed and diced

5 medium tomatoes, blanced, peeled, cored, and diced (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 rounded tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

3 cups cooked white rice

  1. Bring the water to a simmer in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir in the okra and onion and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat as low as possible and cook at a bare simmer for 1 hour. Add the lima beans and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the beans are just tender.
  2. Season liberally with salt and a few grindings of pepper and add the chicken, salt pork, herb bundle, and squash. Raise the heat briefly to return to a simmer, lower it once more, and cook at a bare simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, about 1 hour. Add the tomatoes and continue simmering for another hour. Remove from the heat and discard the salt pork and herb bundle. The soup can be made ahead and cooled, covered, and refrigerated. When chilled (about 6 hours or overnight), remove and discard any fat that surfaces. Otherwise, let it cool until all the fat settles to the top, and skim it off.
  3. When ready to serve the soup, return it to a simmer over medium heat, Knead together the butter and flour in a small bowl and stir it into the soup, simmering until lightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Serve it in warmed bowls with a whole piece of chicken in each bowl and about ¼ cup of white rice spooned into the center of each serving.

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.



6 Seeds to Sow & Savor

veggies2Thomas Jefferson grew 250 varieties of more than 70 different species of vegetables at Monticello. The daily activities of sowing seeds, manuring asparagus, and harvesting peas between 1809 and 1826 are precisely recorded in his”Garden Kalendar,” a part of his famous Garden Book. Jefferson was often the detached scientist in the Kalendar as he recorded that his Hotspur peas were “killed by frost Oct. 23,” or that his yellow squash “came to nothing” in 1809. He could also record remarkable detail as in 1811 when he noted of his Asparagus beans that “2/3 pint sow a large square, rows 2 1/2 feet apart and 1 f. and 18 I. apart in the row, one half at each distance.”

For Jefferson, the vegetable garden was a kind of laboratory where he could experiment with imported squashes and broccoli from Italy, beans and salsify collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, figs from France, and peppers from Mexico. Although he would grow as many as twenty varieties of bean and fifteen types of English pea, his use of the scientific method selectively eliminated inferior types: “I am curious to select one or two of the best species or variety of every garden vegetable, and to reject all others from the garden to avoid the dangers of mixing or degeneracy.”

This year, experiment in your own garden or inspire your gardening-enthusiast friends with Jefferson’s successes cultivated by Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. These tasty heirloom varieties are sure to spice up your garden and your plate.

Costoluto Genovese Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum)

genovesetomatoThomas Jefferson was a pioneer in tomato culture; planting this relatively unfamiliar vegetable from 1809, the first summer of his retirement, until his death in 1826. He also noted that tomatoes were grown in Virginia gardens in Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782. Costoluto Genovese is an old, indeterminate Italian preserving tomato. Although an oddity in today’s vegetable garden, this variety’s heavily-lobed and convoluted shape reflects the character of early 19th-century tomatoes. Its stellar flavor is intense and acidic; its unusual shape makes it most suitable for sauces and pastes after its skin is removed.

Sow seeds ¼” deep in pots indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost; keeping the soil moist but not soggy. When several leaves have developed, harden off the seedlings outdoors, then transplant to the garden 18″–36″ apart. 85-90 days to maturity.

Cow’s Horn Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus ‘Cow’s Horn’)

okraThomas Jefferson experimented with this African native, first planting it in 1809 and edging his tomato square with a border of okra in 1813. Okra, a member of the Mallow family, is a highly ornamental vegetable with its large, tropical leaves and handsome yellow flowers. Jefferson family recipes include various types of okra stews in which okra was blended with tomatoes and other tangy vegetables. Steve Bender, the “Grumpy Gardener” of Southern Living, believes okra is the “quintessential southern vegetable” and that Jefferson set many of today’s southern staples.

‘Cow’s Horn’ is a heirloom variety with distinctive curved fruits. Plant seeds after the last spring frost in fertile, sunny, well-drained garden soil. Thin seedlings so they are at least 8″ apart. Harvest the young fruits when they are no longer than 3″ long.

‘Tennis Ball’ Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

tennisballTennis Ball was among Thomas Jefferson’s favorite lettuce varieties. He noted that “it does not require so much care and attention” as other types. Tennis Ball, the parent of our modern Boston race of lettuces so popular today, was first sold by American seedsmen late in the 18th century. The variety was recently enjoyed by the current President and his family when it was planted in the section of the White House garden inspired by Jefferson in 2010.

Tennis Ball is distinctive for its delicate, pale-green leaves, which form a loose head. Sow seeds early in the spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, in rich, well-prepared soil and thin seedlings to six inches apart. Tennis Ball is also suitable for fall crops that may be planted in late summer. 55 days to maturity.

West Indian Gherkin (Cucumis anguiria)

gherkinDuring his presidency, Jefferson kept a pickle barrel for guests in his house and this heirloom is a great option for pickling today. The “gerkin,” Cucumis anguiria, was a surprisingly common crop in the late summer Monticello vegetable garden, planted in six seasons between 1812 and 1824, sometimes in July. Jefferson recommended it to his brother, Randolph, in 1813: “the season being over for planting everything but the Gerkin. It is that by which we distinguish the very small pickling cucumber.” This was likely the West Indian gherkin, a native of Africa brought to the Caribbean through the slave trade, then reputedly introduced from Jamaica by Minton Collins in his Richmond store in 1792.

The West Indian gherkin is an aggressive vine with smallish leaves that are lobed like a miniature watermelon leaf. The short, three-inch, plump fruit are round, firm, and covered with blunt spines. Sow the seeds two feet apart in hills or rows from late spring until mid-summer. Harvest the fruits when 1” – 2” around, dress with salt for 24 hours, and then pack them into glass jars. Cover with warm malt vinegar and add ½ teaspoon of dill seed. Secure jars with air-tight lids: the pickled gherkins will be ready in about two months.

Texas Bird Pepper (Capsicum annuum glabriusculum)

birdpepperJefferson was sent seeds of this pretty, dwarf pepper by Samuel Brown from San Antonio, Texas in 1812 and 1813. Brown stated how the dried peppers were as “essential to my health as salt itself.” Jefferson, hopeful this species might be hardier than others, sowed the seed in pots and in square XII of the Monticello Vegetable Garden. He also forwarded seeds to Philadelphia nurseryman, Bernard McMahon, who apparently popularized the Bird Pepper as an ornamental pot plant in Pennsylvania.

The Texas Bird Pepper is a lush, compact plant (one foot height) covered in early fall with tiny (1/2”), reddish-orange peppers. Samuel Brown said, “The Spaniards use it in fine Powder & seldom eat anything without it. The Americans … make a pickle of the green Pods with Salt & Vinegar which they use with Lettuce, Rice, Fish, etc.” Sow the seeds indoors a month before the last Spring frost, then transplant the seedlings into sunny, well-drained garden soil.

‘Prince Albert’ Peas (Pisum sativum ‘Prince Albert’)

albertpeaThomas Jefferson had a well-documented taste for peas and participated in pea growing competitions with his Monticello neighbors each spring. In the middle of the nineteenth century, ‘Prince Albert’ was the most popular of all the varieties of English Pea in the United States. It was grown in England before 1837 and introduced into the United States in 1845. Fearing Burr, who described American vegetables in 1863, felt ‘Prince Albert’ was indistinguishable from ‘Early Frame’, one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites among the fifteen varieties he cultivated at Monticello.

Garden peas enjoy cool, moist growing conditions. At Monticello, gardeners sow them around March 1 for a crop in mid-May. We also use four-foot-high branches, or “pea sticks,” to support this twining vegetable. Sow the seed in a well-drained, garden soil about six feet apart.

For 62 more varieties of vegetables visit www.monticelloshop.org!

Monticello Staff Recipes: From Orchard to Table

tasting 2The apple was a standard, everyday fruit at Monticello during Jefferson’s time, especially during the autumn months. Jefferson cultivated his apples with exceptional attention to detail; they were often featured in meals and desserts served in Jefferson’s Dining Room. The apple still remains one of the region’s crowning jewels; many Virginians enjoy apple picking at their favorite orchards in the Shenandoah region.  Here, Monticello staff share some of their favorite apple recipes and tips for bringing apples from the orchard to the table!

Gabriele’s Apple Bites

Many apple dishes require minimum preparation and produce delicious results. Gabriele Rausse, Monticello’s Director of Garden and Grounds, uses his favorite Virginia apple– the Albemarle Pippin– in this simple recipe below. Rausse notes that if you don’t have the Albemarle Pippin, the recipe works great with apples that aren’t quite right ripe or several pear varieties.

GabrieleMED[1]1) Peel the Albemarle Pippins. Remove the core.

3) Put them in a pot and add red wine until the apples are partially submerged (the wine has to be good).

4) Add one tablespoon of sugar per apple.

5) Add a leaf of noble bay to give aroma to the dish.

6) Let them simmer until the wine becomes syrupy and the apples are tender.  Voila!


Amplify Your Apple Crisp

lily-fox-bruguiereLily Fox-Brugiere, Garden and Outreach Coordinator for the CHP, recommends using heirloom apples in an apple crisp. “I love all of the old apple varieties we grow here at Monticello! They have such wonderful, bright flavors, and are perfectly crisp and crunchy. My favorite apple dessert to cook is apple crisp–so easy and delicious! Depending upon which recipe you prefer to use, start with a base of tasty heirloom apples, no peeling necessary. The crisp topping absolutely has to have oats, toasted walnuts, brown sugar, and a mix of spices including cinnamon and nutmeg, and plenty of butter.”


Apple Bonne Femme

Pat Brodowski, Monticello Vegetable Gardener, suggests a recipe she adapted from chef Jacques Pepin. “Although Pepin’s recipe is for large apples served one per person with a pound of cake or sour cream, I’ve made this dish with extremely small apples, as a finger-food appetizer. I have also experimented with adding cranberries and/or chopped nuts to the central core, and adding flavors such as hickory syrup, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, or lemon juice.”

IMG_1697[1]1) Core the center of your apples completely to leave a clean tubular opening.

2) With a small knife, pare an incision in the apple skin about a third of the way down from the top of the apple and about 1/4 inch deep. The incision permits the apple to expand which baking, so a third of the apple above the cut lifts up.

3) Place the apples in a nice ovenproof dish, and spoon apricot jam over the opening in the apple.

4) Pour 1/3 cup maple syrup over the apples, and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.

5) Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Baste with the juices, cook another 25 to 30 minutes. Apples will be plump, browned, and soft; serve them in the baking dish once they cool.


Want to learn more about apples?

Be sure to check out Tom Burford’s Apples of North America, his tasty guide to heirloom and modern apples of merit. The book features information on planting, pruning, grafting, and more. This wonderful reference will encourage you to seek out new flavors you’ve never explored.

Peruse our Monticello Apple Harvest Collection blog for more delicious apple treats and apple-inspired decor.