Friday, September 11, 2020

An Ap-peeling Find

Seventeen years ago, I planted an apple tree next to my house with dreams of someday picking apples from my porch.

Over the years, the apples have suffered in a variety in ways all resulting in the absence of any edible apples come September.

There were droughts, hail, late Spring frosts, a complete absence of blossoms, and, most frequently, squirrels.  Lord, the squirrels.They would come in July and pick the tree clean of the young apples.

For reasons unknown, the squirrels around my house disappeared this year.  I suspect it has to do with a sewage backup that occurred in the creek behind my house, but that's purely speculation.  At any rate, it resulted in a bumper crop this year.

My first apple picked in 17 years.

What does this have to do with garage sales?  Well, I now have apples I can peel with my vintage apple peelers I bought at a various sales over the years.

First up is this model in John Deere green. There's no manufacturer's mark on it other than being made in the USA and the number 78. A little research revealed they're made by Lehman's of Kidron, Ohio.  They're still available for the whopping price of $249.  I think I paid $3.

Next up is clearly an older model. From what I've read, it dates to the late 1800's. It was made by the Reading Hardware company of Reading, Pennsylvania.

If you think it looks just like the previous model, you're right.  Apparently, the Reading design was used by Lehman's for their own model 78 apple peeler.

My next apple peeler is of an entirely different design with added functionality.  It's a White Mountain Apple peeler made by the Goodell company of Antrim, New Hampshire and dates from the 1960's. 

This peeler works on a worm gear, also known as a lathe model, instead of traditional cogs.  It's actually a corer/slicer/peeler performing all 3 functions when the peeler is attached (which it isn't in this picture). The peeler rides the outside of the apple as it is pushed through a metal cutting ring that simultaneously cores the center and slices it into a long apple coil.

Like most combination models, this one functions better with one of its functions over the other, in this case the corer/slicer works better than the peeler.  I use the other style models for peeling, then attach the peeled apple to this model to core it.

Using the Reading model to peel.

It takes the peel off in one long string.

I then attach the peeled apple to the White Apple peeler.

It slices it much like curly fries.

It leaves the core on the peeler.

A couple well placed cuts on the coiled apple and you have perfect slices.

I decided to make some stewed apples this morning.  I don't go from recipe, I just cook the apples down with brown sugar and cinnamon.

I'll eat these by themselves, but this morning I had them on a waffle.

Also known as apple parers, homemade apple peelers first appeared in the late 1700's.  Manufacturer's began producing them in the early 1800's.  This site credits David Goodell whose company created my lathe parer, with the invention of the peeler.  However, given his birth in 1834, this seems unlikely.

During the 19th century, apple peelers were popular at apple bees (not to be confused with the chain restaurant).  These were gatherings where townspeople would gather to peel and preserve the bounty of their trees.  It was said good fortune came to those who could peel an apple in one continuous strand and young women could find the name of their future betrothed in the piles of peelings.

There's a virtual museum online where you can peruse the various models.


  1. You say apple-peelers. I say antique torture implements.

    1. The apples still tell about the legend of the peeler to scare the little seedlings.

  2. Great post! You really got to the core of the matter.

  3. congratulations on finally getting your apples! i have an apple peeler like the White Mountain model, but mine has a base so i can just set it on the counter. works very well. someone always mentions that it looks like a torture device, lol

    1. Thanks!. Yeah, being mounted would be a convenience. It has a little c-clamp to mount to the counter, but we have granite countertops, so I'm not sure about clamping to that. It's just as easy for me to hold.

    2. our counters are Corian, with a rounded lip about an inch deep, so clamping anything to it would be difficult at best and scratch the hell out of them at worst. i'm constantly putting down cork or rubber mats to avoid scratching them even more than they already are. I love the look of Corian, but you gotta either be ok with haze and scratches on them over time, or treat them like museum pieces and never use your kitchen to keep them pristine.

  4. Wow - I too have been processing apples all week. His Lordship and I picked them from on obliging neighbors tree. We have made applesauce, apple cider, apple juice, dried apples and apple butter. I got an attachment for my kitchen aid that peels, cores and slices not unlike your machines. It does not look nearly as cool as yours.

    1. I'm not sure I'll have enough apples to do that much, especially cider which I think takes a LOT of apples, right? But I may make some apple butter.

  5. About to get some apples from the tree next door I'm sure they won't miss any.

  6. I'm happy you finally got some apples! Patience is a virtue! Fruit can be fickle, we had a bumper load of wild plums and then just before they were ripe they suddenly all fell off...

    1. Thanks, CraveCute. Sorry to hear about your plums. My grandmother had a damson plum tree and made the best jelly.


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