SYRACUSE Amanda Gormley, Marketing and Member Service Coordinator at the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative brings you this guide to CNY’s local food offerings.
According to the New York Apple Association, New York State is the second largest apple producer in America, averaging 29.5 million bushels of apples each year. Onondaga County is one of the biggest apple producers in the state.
Apples have a rich history in New York. The first known apple tree in New York State was planted by Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1647. The tree was a transplant from Holland, and it was planted on the corner of Third Avenue and 13th street in New York City. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries began planting orchards near the Niagara River, and Native Americans began trading colonists for apple seeds to develop their own orchards.
By the early 1700s apples were well established in New York state. They were used for cider, vinegar, and hard cider. Some apple products were even used as currency.
Apples were shipped down the Hudson River to New York City, but in 1825 New York State apple production got a huge boost with the opening of the Erie Canal. Orchards along Lake Ontario were given an easy way to transport apples across the state, and apple production increased.
Today, most New York state apples are still picked by hand in the fall. Take a drive down any New York state route in Onondaga County (like Route 20) this time of year, and you’ll see rows of crates in between apple trees. Ladders are typically set up near the crates for pickers to reach the highest apples.