MAPLEWOOD, NJ — As Newark was settled in the 17th century, apple orchards took root, feeding a booming industry in hard cider. The most famous and revered apple was the Harrison, a diminutive yellow variety named for Samuel Harrison, a descendant of one of the city’s founding fathers. By the end of the Colonial period, Newark cider was renowned, regarded as the champagne of cider by George Washington.
Once widely planted in and beyond the Garden State, including in Maplewood and in the Oranges, the Harrison apple declined in the late 1800s and slowly vanished until only isolated trees remained. After a while, they were forgotten and thought to have disappeared entirely. But in 1976, an intrepid Vermont orchardist was delighted to discover a surviving Harrison in New Jersey. From that single find has come a rebirth of the Harrison, fueled by a growing U.S. market for hard cider. Now, through the work of Charles Rosen, owner of New Ark Farms and Jersey Cider Works, home of Ironbound Hard Cider, the Harrison apple has once again taken center stage in New Jersey in a modern interpretation of the most coveted style of Newark cider.
Visit Durand-Hedden House & Garden on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. for a talk — and a tasting! — by Charles Rosen on the rise, fall and rebirth of the Harrison apple and the making of Newark cider. Appearing with Charles will be Fran McManus, author of “The Return of Newark Cider,” a 2010 Edible Jersey article that first inspired Rosen’s work. On view will be photos of the old Crowell Cider Mill which stood near Columbia High School and a Harrison apple tree planted in Grasmere Park under Durand-Hedden’s watch several years ago.
Durand-Hedden House is located in Grasmere Park at 523 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood. For more information or to arrange group tours, call 973-763-7712 or visit www.durandhedden.org.