Friday, November 9, 2018

From Garden to Table at Mount Vernon - Applesauce with Pippin Apples


Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table 

While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's  pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.

The Kitchen Garden at Mount Vernon

“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792

Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon

Outside The Kitchen at Mount Vernon

In the matter of eating & drinking George Washington was temperate. For breakfast he ordinarily had tea & Indian cakes with butter & perhaps honey, of which he was very fond. His supper was equally light, consisting of perhaps tea & toast, with wine, & he usually retired at nine o'clock. Dinner was the main meal of the day at Mount Vernon, & usually was served at two o'clock. One such meal is thus described by a guest:  "He thanked us, desired us to be seated, & to excuse him a few moments.... The President came & desired us to walk in to dinner & directed  us where to sit, (no grace was said).... The dinner was very good, a small roasted pigg, boiled leg of lamb, roasted fowls, beef, peas, lettice, cucumbers, artichokes, etc., puddings, tarts, etc. etc."   The General ordinarily confined himself to a few courses & if offered anything very rich, he would protest, "That is too good for me." He often drank beer with the meal, with one or two glasses of wine & perhaps as many more afterward, often eating nuts, another delicacy with him, as he sipped the wine.


Mentions of the importance of apples are abundant in Washington’s papers. For example, on February 1, 1796, he noted, “For every acre . . . an Apple tree of good grafted fruit is to be planted on the premises.”

The recipe here is adapted by Culinary Historian Nancy Carter Crump from one in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. This sauce is delicious with a variety of dishes.

One of the most valuable tools in the Mount Vernon kitchen was Martha Washington's copy of The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy...By a Lady.  Martha's copy is in the Library at Mount Vernon. Hannah Glasse's (1708–1770) The Art of Cookery...was first published in 1747. It was a bestseller for a century after its first publication, dominating the English-speaking market. It was published in America from 1805.

Mrs. Washington may have owned a number of cookbooks, but her 1765 edition of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery and a manuscript cookbook (now at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania) are the only ones known to survive. The manuscript book  (under the title Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery) is a very early compilation of 16th and 17th century receipts and came into Martha's possession at the time of her marriage to Daniel Parke Custis who died in 1757.


2 1/2 pounds tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith, or heirloom apples such as Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin, peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices

2 to 3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

Water as needed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 to 1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. Put the apples in a saucepan over low heat. Add the lemon zest and about 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook the apples, stirring often and adding more water if the fruit seems too dry. Add only enough, however, to prevent the apples from sticking to the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the apples are very soft. Remove from the heat, and mash the apples roughly.

2. Blend in the butter. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar, stirring in more as needed, and then add the nutmeg.

3. Serve the applesauce warm or at room temperature. It can be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This apple pie recipe from Hannah Glasse, adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump requires a bit more time than the standard one of today, but the end result is more than satisfying. Glasse instructed that the apple peels and cores should be boiled with mace “till it is very good.” The liquid is then to be strained and reduced prior to being poured over and around the apples in the crust before baking. Although this recipe does not call for any accompaniment, another of her apple pie recipes suggests clotted cream. Both recipes recommend that the pie be sent to the table cold.

Research plus images & much more are available from the Mount Vernon website,