Archive for December, 2011

Lady apples (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Lady apples (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

LADY APPLE PROVES THE ADAGE that good things come in small packages. Lady is small but intense! Its bright white flesh is crisp and juicy, with hints of citrus. Some liken it to the flavor of dried fruit. Lady’s red and green color varies depending on the amount of sunlight it gets; the green can lighten to yellow.

Lady is a late-season apple, ripening in late October into November. Because of its size, festive coloring, and ability to withstand a freeze, Lady is often featured in Christmas wreaths, and is also known as Christmas Apple. Lady is a brilliant sight in the orchard during late summer and fall, cascading in thick clusters.

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

But Lady first and foremost is a culinary apple, packing a powerful punch of sweet-tart flavor. Its small size make Lady less than ideal for cooking, but they are popular in salads, eaten fresh, and pickled sweet or sour, in the latter case sometimes served with a hot sauce.

Lady is one of the oldest known apple varieties, having been cultivated in France since the 1600s during the reign of Louis XIII. It may be even older, dating back to ancient Rome.

The term “lady” has been a popular one when it comes to naming apples. The classic 1905 volume, Apples of New York, lists Lady Finger and Lady Sweet in addition to Lady, while the more recent Old Southern Apples (2010) lists Lady Skin plus four extinct varieties (Ladies Blush, Ladies Choice, Ladies Favorite, and Lady Lyons).

The Apple Book, also from 2010, describes primarily European varieties, especially apples cultivated in the United Kingdom; it adds Lady Sudeley and Lady Henniker, named for the wives of British lords.

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

This tiny heirloom is sometimes confused with Pink Lady, another late-season — but very new — variety. Pink Lady is a firm, crisp, tart and honey-sweet apple with a deep pink flush over a green skin. Pink Lady is an outstanding fresh-eating apple, and it is also good for cooking and in sauce. They keep several months with refrigeration.

Pink Lady, introduced in 1989, is the trademarked name of an Australian cross of Golden Delicious with an Australian apple, Lady Williams. It was originally named Cripps Pink.


We’ve made a few alterations to this recipe credited to Martha Stewart.

Pickled Lady Apples

2 lbs Lady apples

2 c cider vinegar

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c granulated sugar

1-1/4 c cider or water

1-1/2 t salt

2 cinnamon sticks

1-1/2 t allspice berries

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

3/4 t black peppercorns

1/2 c raw cranberries

Prick apples in a few places with a fork. Bring vinegar, sugars, water, and spices to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add apples and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until  a fork inserted in the center of an apple meets slight resistance, about 8 minutes. Stir in cranberries, transfer to a bowl, and let cool. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or up to 1 month). Serve apples cold or at room temperature.


2015 New England Apples wall calendar

2015 New England Apples wall calendar

THERE’S STILL TIME to order the 2015 New England Apple wall calendar. Each month features a different New England orchard and apple variety. The 12”x12” full color calendar makes an ideal gift for the apple lovers on your list.

To order your calendar, send $12.95 ($9.95 plus $3.00 shipping) to New England Apples, P. O. Box 41, Hatfield, MA 01038. Make checks out to New England Apple Association. We’ll send your calendar out within 24 hours of receiving your order.


IF YOU ARE LOOKING Lady apples, follow the “Find An Apple Orchard” link on our New England Apples website, click on “Lady,” and then “Find Orchards” at the bottom of the page.

To view photographs of more than 120 New England apple varieties, go to Apple Varieties. For a description of each one, click on the image, or watch our three-part series on New England apple varieties, featuring Chuck and Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire.

Part two, “New England Varieties—Old and New” includes Lady, and is featured here.

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Don't be deceived by their dull finish — russets are among the most flavorful of apples. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Don’t be deceived by their dull finish — russets are among the most flavorful of apples. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

PERHAPS THE MOST OVERLOOKED apples are the russets, undoubtedly due to their dull, rough-looking skin. It is a shame, as they are some of the most flavorful apples anywhere. Several varieties are especially prized for cider.

Russeting occurs naturally in many varieties, but is seen as a defect in others. It may appear on a portion of each apple, or cover its entire surface. Many of the fully russeted varieties are medium to small in size, limiting their mass appeal in today’s world of super-sized portions.

Most russets are excellent keepers, but therein lies a source of their commercial decline: as storage techniques improved a century ago, the russets fell out of favor, undoubtedly hastened by consumer preference for a shiny red (or gold or green) apple. But if you can set aside the aesthetic demand for a uniformly smooth and shiny skin, your taste buds will be richly rewarded.

In an earlier post, Orange New England Apples, we sang the praises of several russeted varieties, such as Ashmead’s Kernel and Hudson’s Golden Gem, both of which are excellent cider apples. The distinctive variable russeting against a red background on varieties like Orleans Reinette can be striking in appearance.

We admit that most people consider the Knobbed Russet unattractive, if not downright ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we consider the russets to be stunning in their subtle coloration and compact shape. We feature five here: the aforementioned Knobbed, plus Golden Russet, Pitmaston Pineapple, Pomme Grise, and Roxbury Russet. They are linked not only by their coppery brown exteriors and intense flavors, but also by their rich histories and colorful names.

Golden Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Russet is a firm, sweet apple with a fine-grained yellow flesh. It had its beginnings in western New York state in the 1800s, where its exceptional sweetness made it a favorite with cider-makers. Golden Russet is still considered to be one of the very best varieties for cider, but it is good for fresh eating and cooking as well.

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Knobbed Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Knobbed Russet is the strangest looking apple in our experience. It sports a gnarly but edible skin covered with warts and welts. But it is more than a novelty. Like the frog that became a prince when kissed, the Knobbed Russet’s character is magically transformed when bitten into. Its bold flavor is superior, strong and earthy, rich and sugary. It has a firm and dense, crisp golden flesh. Also known as Knobby Russet, it was first grown in Sussex, England, in 1819.

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pitmaston Pineapple apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pitmaston Pineapple is a small, juicy apple good for both fresh-eating and cider. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with a hint of honey, and a pineapple taste that gives the variety its name. Pitmaston Pineapple originated in the town of Pitmaston, near Worcester, England, in the late 1700s, and was presented to the London Horticultural Society in 1845 by Mr. Williams of Pitmaston. Its parentage is unknown.

Pomme Grise apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pomme Grise apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pomme Grise has many similarities with Pitmaston Pineapple: it is a small, round, juicy apple with thick, tough skin lightly covered with brown russeting. Its pale yellow flesh is firm, crisp, and aromatic, with a unique nutty, spicy flavor, making it a popular choice for cider-making. Also known as Gray Apple, Pomme Grise originated in Canada, and was widely grown in New York’s St. Lawrence valley in the 1800s.

Roxbury Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Roxbury Russet apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Roxbury Russet is America’s oldest cultivated apple variety, first grown in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1635. This exquisitely flavored heirloom has had a host of names over the years, including Belpre Russet, Boston Russet, Hewe’s Russet, Marietta Russet, Putnam Russet, Shippen’s Russet, Sylvan Russet, Warner Russet, and — our favorite — Leather Coat.

Roxbury Russet has a coarse, crispy yellow-green flesh. Its spicy-tart flavor is as good for fresh-eating as it is for making a fine syrupy cider. Its parentage is unknown.

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IF YOU ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH to find some russets at your local orchard or grocery store, here is a recipe that emphasizes their rich taste. Most russets are slow to brown when sliced compared to many varieties, making them especially good in salads.

French Apple-Pear Salad

2 medium or 3 small New England apples, such as Roxbury Russet, halved and cored

2 pears, halved and cored

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 T lemon juice

1/2 t vanilla

1/4 c walnut or canola oil

salt to taste

2 t tarragon

1/2 c toasted walnuts

Brie or bleu cheese

Slice fruit into long spears and place in a medium bowl with celery. Whisk lemon juice, vanilla, oil, and salt. Pour dressing over fruit. Top with tarragon, walnuts, and cheese.

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2015 New England Apples wall calendar

2015 New England Apples wall calendar

THE 2015 NEW ENGLAND APPLES WALL CALENDAR is a great way to learn about the region’s apples and keep the beauty of the orchard nearby year-round.

Each month features a different New England apple variety and orchard. The 12”x12” full-color calendar makes an ideal gift for the apple lovers on your list.

To order your calendar, send $12.95 ($9.95 plus $3.00 shipping) to New England Apples, P. O. Box 41, Hatfield, MA 01038. Make checks out to New England Apple Association. We’ll send your calendar out within 24 hours of receiving your order.

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2015 New England Apples wall calendar

2015 New England Apples wall calendar

WHAT COULD BE more deliciously bold than a gift of New England apples this holiday season? Imagine the pleasure of receiving a box of fragrant, fresh apples, a jar of creamy smooth apple butter, a bottle of our region’s finest apple wine or hard cider, or a stunning wall calendar packed with photographs and descriptions of many of the apples that flourish on our soils?

If you are feeling especially generous, you could package one or more of these apple items with something rarer still: the gift of your time, and the thoughtful care that goes into baking an apple pie, cake, or bread.

Many New England orchards offer locally grown apples, gift baskets, and homemade apple products through their websites. Just visit New England Apples and link to Orchards By State or Find An Orchard for ideas, or to find that special apple you are looking for. Maybe it is one of our classic New England varieties like McIntosh or Cortland, coveted but impossible to find in many parts of the country. Maybe it’s the sensational Honeycrisp, one of the newest and juiciest of apples. Or perhaps a box of gift-wrapped box heirloom varieties with histories as rich as their flavors, like Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Lady, or Cox’s Orange Pippin.

New England has a thriving cider business, and many of the new generation of hard ciders approach the quality and complexity of fine wines. Similarly, why settle for bland, generic apple preserves, salsa, or butter, when you can choose from among the many made here in New England with our distinctive varieties?

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OUR 2015 New England Apples wall calendar is now available. The 12”x12” calendar features orchard photographs by Russell Steven Powell and Bar Lois Weeks from throughout the region, and different apple varieties each month, with extended descriptions.

The inside back cover lists New England orchards by state, and how to contact them.

To order your 2015 New England Apples calendar, send $12.95 each ($9.95 plus $3 for shipping) to: New England Apples, P. O. Box 41, Hatfield, MA 01038. Make checks payable to New England Apple Association. Calendars will be shipped on the day your order is received.

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IF YOU WANT TO MAKE a big impression on a special someone, here is a recipe that came to us from someone who referred to it in reverential terms. She has made it more than once and served it to appreciative guests.

The inspiration for the recipe is The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. We substituted walnuts for pecans. It didn’t matter; apples and caramel go well together, no matter how you slice it.

Apple Caramel Cake


1 c brown sugar, packed

1/2 c sugar

1-1/2 c canola oil

3 eggs

2 c all-purpose flour

1 c whole wheat flour

1 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

5  New England apples, such as Empire or Cortland, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

1-1/4 c chopped pecans or walnuts

2-1/2 t vanilla

Caramel glaze

4 T butter

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325°.
 Butter a 9”x13” baking dish. Blend together sugars and oil in a large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the batter, mixing just until well blended.

Stir in apples, nuts, and vanilla, and pour into baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, around 70 minutes (begin checking after an hour). Remove from oven and cool in dish while preparing glaze.

To make glaze, melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugars, and stir until blended. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in cream, and bring to a boil. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Using a fork, poke holes in the surface of the cake and pour warm glaze on top. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

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ALL THE APPLES have been harvested. Those that are not sold right away are rushed into cold storage. Between now and next summer, the apples will be packed and sold in a variety of ways. Watch this video to see how the apple gets from tree to grocery store.

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