Food & Drink, Non Fiction

Uncultivated by Andy Brennan

AE58666F-AE06-45C9-A5BC-E497B0EB24D2From the Publisher: Long before the advent of conventional farming methods–which have focused on constant growth, human intervention, and genetic homogeneity–­the apple had already grown to become the ubiquitous all-American symbol it is today. Known for their hardiness, ability to adapt to new environments, natural diversity, and plentiful bounty, wildly grown apples were once known as ”America’s fruit” throughout the trading world. Yet those apple trees–known as pippins–have nearly vanished from the American agricultural landscape, and so, too, have the complexities and nuances of wild apples and their cider. Andy Brennan, founder of Aaron Burr Cidery in upstate New York, has been making a case for their return.

In Uncultivated, Brennan’s hero is the tenacious wild apple and the supe­rior cider it produces. In candid and at times philosophical prose, he shares his decades-long experience working with naturalized trees–from discovering new tastes and textures to understanding how the wild apple tree guided him toward a successful, environmentally conscious business. At the heart of his story is Brennan’s faith in nature, and its unfailing ability to deliver us from our own mistakes.

Andy Brennan is the owner of Aaron Burr Cidery, a small homestead farm located in New York State’s Catskill region that supplies cider to some of Manhattan’s most popular restaurants, including 11 Madison Park and the Gramercy Tavern. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in the New York Times, Wine Enthusiast magazine, and numerous other publications.

Brennan writes eloquently about the industry that feeds his occupation – cider-making – and focuses intently on heirloom or lost strains of apple trees. Having grown up in the Apple Country of western NY, I know a little bit about apple trees and orchards. Brennan does an excellent job of sharing information about the cultivation of apple trees, and what it means to entrepreneurs like himself. I am so happy to see attention being paid to those lost varieties of apples, and make an effort to support farms that are attempting to bring them back. (I’m looking at you, Hurd Orchards!) Before I read this, I didn’t know much about cider-making and how the variety of apple has such an effect on the end product. Fascinating stuff. Recommended for apple enthusiasts and anyone interested in the cider industry.

Publication Date: June 12, 2019
Published By: Chelsea Green Publishing
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy