Historical fruits and nuts play an important, but understated role in eastern North American heritage. The settlers from early Jamestown Virginia and the New England settlements of 1622, document many varieties of nuts and fruits.
They were easy to notice because they were growing in such large quantities. Some varieties such as grapes, were very similar to what they had from back home. Some were also reportedly superior in quality. Chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, cranberries, crabapples and cherries were gathered and prepared for winter storage.
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The Drying of Fruit in The American Colonies
Most berries, cherries, grapes and fruits dried in sunlight for preservation. They provided essential nutrition amid delicate times for colonists. One colonist thought the cherries in New England didn’t measure up to the cherries back home. Calling them “red bullies” and being hard to swallow. However, they were still prolific and nutritious. The grapes in Virginia did compare to those in Italy and England, being both large and delicious.
Years later, William Penn and Roger Williams marveled at the variety of fruits and nuts flourishing in new America. Roger Williams made a rare acknowledgement that the indigenous population had intentionally cultivated the large, seemingly wild fruit groves. Luckily for colonists, the fruits and nuts were in ample supply in eastern North America. Thus allowing for a good supply of wine and gathering a plentiful bounty for winter sustenance.
Sending Plant Grafts and Seeds Back To Europe From The Colonies
While grafts and seeds are being sent over from England. orchards and vineyards are becoming fruitful. Cider and wine are now flowing as well. Colonists carried some of the starter plants and seeds on a long voyage. Once they arrived in Europe, they were used as payment in exchange for land.
While in London, Ben Franklin received a shipment of “Newtown Pippin” apples from the colonies. This would become the first noted transatlantic shipment of apples from eastern North America in 1758. Philadelphia’s John Bartram filled the order for the grafts.
Before the Revolution, American Apples Were A Main Export To England
In 1773, a bad crop of English apples led to large quantities of apple exportation from the colonies to England. These apples were more delicious and cheaper than England’s usual apple importer, Italy.
The American Revolution caused wealth and people to flourish, and so did the variety of fruits. From raisins to pears to figs, fruit was rapidly growing in the colonies. America exported food and only a small amount of fruit was imported from the Mediterranean. These historical fruits and nuts came from the new world and then sent back to Europe. These foods shipped as gifts and exported to countries on privately chartered ships.
From the beginning of the American Revolution to Ben Franklin’s death in 1790, he regularly received food shipments. Fruit, nuts and seeds are shipped over to him in France by son-in-law, Richard Bache. Dr. Benjamin Franklin wrote and saved his recipe for energy bars in 1784. They contained almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins. What we now consider to be a raw food diet, he encouraged. This diet was high in fiber and mostly vegetarian.
Benjamin Franklin lived to be a ripe 84 years old. Impressive, when the average life expectancy of men during this period was a mere 39 years old.