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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

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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GoldRush were one of the last apples picked this fall at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

GoldRush were one of the last apples picked this fall at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

GOLDEN APPLES have been potent symbols of beauty, desire, and power over centuries in cultures around the globe. They appear in fairy tales from Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, and Russia — usually stolen from a king. In Norse mythology, golden apples grant immortal life to the gods.

Golden apples figure prominently in three Greek myths, serving in one as a catalyst for the Trojan War. Eris, the goddess of discord, was the only deity uninvited to the wedding of Peleus and the beautiful sea-nymph Thetis. Outraged, she threw a golden apple inscribed “for the fairest” before the goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera.

The three beauties argued over who should get the apple, and Zeus was loathe to decide, so he appointed a Trojan shepherd boy, Paris, to answer the question instead. The goddesses tried to bribe him. Hera, queen of Olympus, told Paris she would grant him power to rule the world. Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, said she would make him a brilliant strategist in battle.

Aphrodite, goddess of love, offered Paris the love of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, even though Helen was married to the king of Sparta. Paris succumbed and awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite. She helped him to elope with Helen to Troy, launching the Trojan War and eventually leading to Paris’ death.

Aphrodite used golden apples again to aid the mortal Melanion, who wished to marry the brilliant athlete Atalanta. Atalanta had agreed to wed a suitor only if he managed to beat her in a foot race. With Aphrodite’s help, Melanion threw a golden apple ahead of Atalanta whenever he fell behind. Fascinated, she stopped to pick each one up, and she lost the race.

As a source of immortality, golden apples were the object of one of Hercules’ 12 labors. Hercules was commanded by Eurystheus to bring back golden apples from Hera’s Garden of Hesperides, at the edge of the world. The golden apples were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, and by the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas, the titan who bore the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

After many trials, Hercules finally reached the garden, where he convinced Atlas to retrieve the apples from his daughters by agreeing to take over his burden, as Atlas was tired of holding up earth and sky. When Atlas returned with the golden apples, he told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, leaving Hercules to bear Atlas’ heavy load for eternity. Hercules agreed, but asked Atlas to take the world back for a moment while he padded his shoulders to better carry the weight. When Atlas set the apples on the ground, Hercules picked them up and ran off, carrying them back to Eurystheus.

* * *

THE GOLDEN APPLES we eat today may not bestow immortality, but their beauty and flavor make them divine enough to be food for the gods. Three late-season golden apples that thrive on New England soils are Golden Delicious and two of its offspring, Mutsu (also known as Crispin), and GoldRush.

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Golden Delicious apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

While unrelated to Red Delicious, Golden Delicious shares its conical shape and many of its flavor characteristics. Like the Red, Golden Delicious is a sweet, medium-to-large apple and is an excellent keeper. Golden Delicious has a greenish-yellow skin that turns gold, and its yellow flesh is crisp and juicy. It is good in cooking, especially in pies, as its flesh holds up well when cooked. Golden Delicious is also excellent eaten fresh and in salads.

The Golden Delicious originally was called Mullins Yellow Seedling after its discovery in West Virginia in 1890. It was renamed Golden Delicious when introduced commercially in 1916.

Mutsu, or Crispin, apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu, or Crispin, apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Mutsu, or Crispin, is an excellent dessert apple and good in salads, but it excels in pies and baking, with a sweet, light flavor when cooked, and holding its shape well. Mutsu can grow quite large (a pie made with them may require as few as three apples). Its flesh is white to pale yellow.

Mutsu has its origins in Japan, developed in 1930 from a Golden Delicious crossed with an Indo, a Japanese seedling. It was introduced in the United States in 1948.

GoldRush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

GoldRush apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

GoldRush is a good dessert apple, juicy and honey-flavored like its Golden Delicious parent.

Golden Delicious is GoldRush’s seed parent, with crosses from several other research varieties including Siberian Crab Apple, Winesap, Melrose, and Rome Beauty. Its development began in 1945, but it took until 1973 for the first seedling to be planted at Purdue University by the cooperative breeding program of the Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Stations. It was released commercially in 1993.

If you are planning a home orchard, GoldRush is considered a good choice due to its heavy bearing, disease resistance, winter hardiness, and ease of growing.

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IF YOU ARE NOT QUITE READY to bake Thanksgiving pies, here is a recipe that you can try this weekend, using any of these golden varieties. Easy to make, it should make a delicious dessert all winter.

Apple Bread Pudding

4 slices of whole-grain bread

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1-2/3 c milk

1 t vanilla

3 New England apples, cored and thinly sliced, such as Golden Delicious, Mutsu, or GoldRush

1/4 c each white and brown sugars

1 t cinnamon

1/4 c butter, in chunks

In a medium size bowl, coarsely crumble the bread. In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour milk mixture over the bread crumbs and set aside. Meanwhile, combine sliced apples, sugars, and cinnamon in an 8″ square buttered baking dish. Pour soaked bread crumbs over the apples. Dot with butter. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until apples are tender.

Serve warm with ice cream, hard sauce, frozen yogurt, or whipped cream.

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Find Fuji apples at Averill Farm in Washington Depot, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Find Fuji apples at Averill Farm in Washington Depot, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

ONE OF THE WAYS Americans have made the apple distinctly our own is in the kitchen. Of course there is Waldorf Salad, introduced at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1893. The original recipe of maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky comprised diced red-skinned apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Eventually, chopped walnuts were added to the mix, and today a wide variety of apples of any color can be used to make this unique salad.

Then there are a trio of desserts that share simple crusts and colorful names: Apple Brown Betty,  Apple Cobbler, and  Apple Pandowdy. All were favorites in early New England for their economy and ease of preparation, and, of course, their rich apple flavor.

Apple cobbler has a thick, biscuit-like crust over a deep-dish filling. In some versions, the crust encloses the filling like a pie, in others the batter is dropped in spoonfuls on the top. While popular in New England, cobblers may have originated in Europe, deriving their name from their uneven crust resembling cobblestone streets.

Apple Brown Betty is a pudding-like dish featuring apples baked between layers of buttered breadcrumbs. Betties also have European roots, originating in England and closely related to the French Apple Charlotte. This was a popular dish during Colonial times, although the name Apple Brown Betty only dates back to the mid-19th century.

Pandowdy is another deep-dish apple dessert, spiced and sweetened with maple syrup, molasses, or brown sugar. Pandowdy differs from cobbler in that its biscuit-y topping gets pushed down into the fruit as it bakes, allowing the apple juices to bubble up through. Apple Pandowdy has been traced to the early 1800s, but the origin of its name is unclear. It may refer to its simplicity and dowdy look.

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ONE DEFINITION OF “COBBLE” isto mend or patch coarsely.” We cobbled together our recipe from several cookbooks and sources, starting with a whole-wheat dough adapted from Joy of Cooking. For apples, we chose two Fujis, one Honeycrisp, and one Macoun, all good sized (most recipes called for six apples). We used less butter and sugar than most recipes called for, and the result was a delicious cobbler brimming with apple flavor, with a touch of lemon and cinnamon.

Cobblers are best eaten while still warm from the oven, topped with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, whipped cream, or even a dollop of tapioca pudding.

New England Apple Cobbler

4-6 extra juicy New England apples, like Fuji, Cortland, or Golden Delicious

1/2 c sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

3 T lemon juice

1 t lemon zest

* * *

1 T apple cider vinegar

about 1 c milk

* * *

1 c whole wheat flour

3/4 c white flour

2 t sugar

2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

1/3 c butter

Preheat oven to 425°. Core and slice apples. Mix with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and zest, coating slices. Place in 3-quart casserole or baking dish.

Put vinegar in measuring cup and add enough milk to make one cup. Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in butter with knives or pastry blender until crumbly. Add milk mixture and mix with a fork until it forms a soft dough. Knead 8-10 times on lightly floured surface, and roll out by hand to about 1/2” thick. Shape to fit baking dish, and place over apples. Make several inch-long cuts in dough to allow steam to escape. Cook for 50 minutes, or until apples are soft and crust is brown.

* * *

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fuji apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fuji is a good late-season apple that can be found in more and more New England orchards. It has a dense, firm flesh but is very juicy, with a sweet flavor owing primarily to its Red Delicious parent (Fuji’s other parent, the Virginia heirloom Ralls Janet, is a good eating apple known for its late bloom, making the variety less susceptible to frost damage.).

Fuji is a medium to large-sized apple, excellent for fresh eating, baking, and drying. Fuji is a great keeper, maintaining its quality for several weeks left in a fruit bowl or for up to a year refrigerated.

Fuji was developed in Japan in 1939, and was named in 1962, after Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain.

* * *

IN OCTOBER we published a post, Seek No Further, expressing our interest in locating the heirloom apple Westfield Seek-No-Further. A reader responded with one possible source, Bear Path Farm in Whately, Massachusetts. We visited the small orchard, but the Seek-No-Furthers had already been picked.

A little later we received an email and photographs from a grower, Walter Curtis of Honey Hill Farm in Fayette, Maine. Imagine our surprise this week when a box of beautiful Westfield Seek-No-Furthers arrived in the mail from Walter! We are deeply indebted.

Westfield Seek-No-Further apple (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Westfield Seek-No-Further apple (Russell Steven Powell photo)

We’re happy to say that, thanks to Walter, Westfield Seek-No-Further will soon appear on our New England Apples website (among the 30 new varieties we will be adding later this fall to the more than 100 already photographed and described).

Westfield Seek-No-Further is a sweet, aromatic apple with a slightly nutty, almost buttery flavor. Primarily a dessert apple, it is not generally recommended for cooking. Seek-No-Furthers have a creamy yellow, firm, crisp flesh. Their skin has a smooth, deep yellow or greenish base, and can be streaked red, with some russeting around the stem.

Westfield Seek-No-Furthers originated in Westfield, Massachusetts, in the 1700s, and were a popular New England variety in the 1800s, especially in Connecticut, New York, and the Midwest.

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Crabapple-sized Wickson apples ready for pressing at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Crabapple-sized Wickson apples ready for pressing at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell)

APPLE CIDER is as varied and versatile as the fruit from which it is pressed. It can be frozen or fermented, guzzled fresh or used in cooking, pasteurized (or not), made from almost any apple variety (usually a blend), in almost any condition (dings and dents welcome). Cider was America’s drink from Colonial days until well into mid-19th century, when it fell victim to several factors, including the migration to cities and the rise in popularity of beer.

But cider is experiencing a revival, from large commercial producers to small orchards and cider mills that make unique blends, to people who are experimenting with small batches made in their homes. There are a number of ciders, from the sweet, unfermented drink we commonly know now, to several types (and strengths) of “hard,” or alcoholic, cider, which can be as strong as wine. Distilled further, cider can be made into applejack or apple brandy.

Many orchards press their own cider, and there are a growing number of cider mills and passionate artisan cider makers that are reviving the art of finding and pressing rare apples that are virtually inedible, but lend a richness and complexity to their cider.

You could write a book about cider. In fact, several people have. Two that we recommend are Cider, Hard and Sweet, by Ben Watson, and Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider, by Lew Nichols and Annie Proulx, author of the acclaimed novel Shipping News. Both give detailed instruction on cider-making; Watson’s book includes a global history of cider, fun facts, and descriptions of varieties favored by seasoned makers.

We are often asked the difference between apple juice and cider. Both drinks are made from apples, but apple juice is clear, invariably sweet, and keeps longer than cider. The primary reason is filtration; all of the pulp found in cider is strained out of the juice, giving it a lighter color and extending its shelf life.

While making true hard cider requires some special equipment and a number of steps, fermenting cider into something fizzy and slightly alcoholic couldn’t be easier. Just take a jug of cider and leave it alone, and once past the expiration date the fermentation begins.

Be careful, though; we heard last week of a woman who carefully cleaned her refrigerator and then, against her better judgment, put back in an old jug of cider that her husband was saving. The cider had begun to ferment, and soon the resulting gases built up so much pressure on the plastic cap that there was an explosion.

We are happy to report that her husband at least cleaned up after his own mess.

About freezing cider: it is a perfectly good way to store cider for the long-term if you don’t want it to get fizzy in the fridge. Just remember to remove a little liquid first (at least one-quarter cup for a gallon jug), or it will pop the cap as it expands.

* * *

AN EARLY, HEAVY SNOW blankets much of New England. It’s hard to think that just one month ago we were cleaning our sticky apple booth in the Massachusetts House at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition), closing it up for another year. The occasional cider spill is inevitable, but this year it was coupled with smoothie spills. More on that in a minute.

First, think back to our post, Oct. 6, 2011, on Dings and Dents. We gave that a lot of thought at the fair because the apples with small blemishes didn’t seem to sell as fast. We got to putting these slightly imperfect apples into the door of the fridge, saving them for smoothies.

With the purchase of a commercial-grade blender, a few Macs from the Ding & Dent Department, fresh Carlson cider, spices, and (optional) ice cream, Big E booth manager Bar Lois Weeks produced a recipe for our very own Apple Pie Smoothie that we’d like to share with you, just in time for Franklin County CiderDays this weekend.

It’s quick and easy, inexpensive, healthy, and delicious!

Apple Pie Smoothie (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Apple Pie Smoothie (Bar Lois Weeks)

Big E Apple Pie Smoothie

Add to your blender:

1 New England apple, like McIntosh or Cortland, unpeeled, cored and chopped

1-1/4 c fresh cider

1 scoop vanilla ice cream (optional)

1/2 t apple pie spice mix (or 1/4 t cinnamon, a pinch of ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom)

Set blender on high until the apple peel is in small flecks. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Enjoy your apple-a-day the easy way!

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Don’t miss this weekend’s 17th Annual Franklin County CiderDays. Some of the events are free, others require fees and reservations, but the two-day event offers a wide range of cider-related activities and workshops in the towns of Colrain, Deerfield, Greenfield, and Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.  A schedule can be downloaded from the CiderDays website.

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Here is a video about how sweet cider is made by one of New England’s largest commercial producers, Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts:

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Mount Kearsarge looms in the distance at Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Mount Kearsarge looms in the distance at Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE BIG WINNER at Mount Wachusett AppleFest’s second annual apple pie contest October 15? The Cortland. It was the only variety used by both winners: Julie Piragis of Athol, Massachusetts, in the “apple only” category, and Elinor Ives of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, whose pie was chosen as the best “apple and other” pie.

Both winning pies had outstanding crusts, were nicely spiced, and beautifully presented. Their selection affirms what chefs have known for more than a century: Cortlands make an outstanding pie. While experimenting with several apple varieties can result in unusual textures and flavors, Julie and Elinor demonstrated that a single variety of high-quality apples can carry a pie as well.

The key is to start off with the best fruit. A week after the AppleFest contest, we sampled four apple pies also made with single varieties, including Cortland. They were so good that it was hard to choose among them. But in our informal taste test, Cortlands finished last, behind McIntosh, Mutsu, and Empire (even by Gerri Griswold, who made them)!

Apples can vary from place to place, and season to season. Always begin with firm, fresh apples when making a pie, and taste them first to ensure that they are at peak flavor. Applesauce is forgiving of a less-than-perfect apple. But if you are going to the trouble of making a pie, choose the best textured, and most flavorful, apples you can find.

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cortland, obviously, makes an excellent choice. If you think only in red or green when it comes to apples, consult a Cortland to see a stunning example of something in between. A large, beautiful apple, it comes in shades of deep red with green and yellow streaks. Its sweet-tart flavor is similar to its McIntosh parent, but a little less tangy. It is less juicy than a Mac as well, and it retains its shape better when cooked.

In addition to being a great baking apple, Cortlands are excellent for fresh eating. They are famous in salads, too, as their white flesh browns slowly after slicing.

While Cortlands owe much of their great flavor to the McIntosh, their firm texture, striping, and size are attributes of their other parent, Ben Davis. The skin of Cortlands can become waxy over time, another feature of Ben Davis. Cortlands were developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, in 1898.

Here is the winning apple pie entry from Julie Piragis:

Julie Piragis' winning apple pie. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Julie Piragis’ winning apple pie. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple Pie

Crust

2 c flour

2/3 c butter-flavored Crisco

1 t salt

7 T ice-cold water

Filling

Enough Cortland apples to fill 9-inch pie plate (heaping)

¾ c sugar

1 t salt

1 t cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

dash of salt

2 T flour

Put 2 T butter on top of apples and add top crust.

Mix one egg with 2 T Half n’ Half coffee creamer and brush finished pie. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350° for one hour or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.

* * *

The winning recipe in the “Apple and Other” category, from Elinor Ives:

Harvest Apple Pie with Oat-Nut Crust and Cinnamon Pecan Crumble

Elinor Ives's winning apple pie. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Elinor Ives’s winning apple pie. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Filling

1/2 c butter

3 T flour

1/4 c water

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c packed brown sugar

1/4 t cinnamon

8 Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

Crust

3/4 c flour

1/2 c quick-cooking oats

1/4 c chopped pecans

1/4 c chopped walnuts

1 T dark brown sugar

1 T white sugar

1/2 c butter, melted 

Cinnamon Pecan Crumble

3 T granulated sugar

1 c plus 2 T flour

1/4 c plus 2 T packed dark brown sugar

1/4 t cinnamon

1/2 c butter, chilled and cut into chunks

1 c pecans

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To make filling, melt butter in an electric skillet or a saucepan large enough to hold all the apples. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, add apples, and let simmer until apples are cooked.

To make the crust, mix all crust ingredients together in a bowl and press into a pie plate.

Bake crust for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

To make Cinnamon Pecan Crumble, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until crumbly, then bake on a cookie sheet at 400°F for 10 minutes.

When crust is cool, spoon filling into crust and top with Cinnamon Pecan Crumble.

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TO LEARN MORE about apples, visit our New England Apples website.

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The lone Red Spy apple tree at Hackett's Orchard in South Hero, Vermont, is ripe for picking. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The lone Red Spy apple tree at Hackett’s Orchard in South Hero, Vermont, is ripe for picking. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

PEARS PLAY a supporting role to apples in New England. You never hear of a pear orchard with a few apple trees; it’s always the other way around. Several apple varieties are described as having a pear-like flavor, notably Gala and Hudson’s Golden Gem. The mellow taste of pears works well with apples in many desserts as well.

It’s one of the many virtues of apples that they combine so well with other foods. When you consider the wide range of apple flavors from sweet to tart, it means that an imaginative cook can achieve a wide range of tastes.

We recently added an Asian pear and a handful of cranberries to Grandmother’s Apple Crisp, after starting with six different varieties of apples. The result was colorful and delicious, with plenty of sweet and tart highlights.

The apples span a century of horticultural development and, while none of them are native to our region, today they are widely cultivated in New England’s orchards: Macoun (New York, 1909), Hudson’s Golden Gem (Oregon, 1931), Gala (New Zealand, 1934), Empire (New York, 1945), Honeycrisp (Minnesota, 1961), and Shamrock (Canada, 1992).

Gala and Hudson’s Golden Gem gave the apple crisp its sweetness, and they augmented the pear flavor; Shamrock added tartness. Hudson’s Golden Gem and Honeycrisp supplied ample juice, and Empire and Macoun imparted spice and aroma to the crisp.

We have written elsewhere about Empire, Gala, and Macoun, so the emphasis here will be on the three remaining apples:

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

For good reason, Honeycrisp has become a prized apple in New England in just 20 years since it was first released commercially. It is an exceptionally juicy and crunchy apple, with just enough tartness to give it a distinctive bite. It has become as sought-after for fresh eating as Macoun, is excellent in salads, and is a good addition to many baked desserts.

It was originally believed that Honeycrisp was a cross of Macoun and Honeygold. But DNA testing has since shown that the records of the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center, where the original seedling was planted in 1962, were inaccurate. Honeycrisp’s parentage turns out to be Keepsake crossed with an unnamed seedling. Confusion about its origins has not stopped Honeycrisp’s meteoric rise since it was introduced commercially in 1991.

Hudson's Golden Gem apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hudson’s Golden Gem apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Hudson’s Golden Gem was introduced by the Hudson Wholesale Nurseries of Tangent, Oregon, in 1931. It is a very juicy apple, and some consider its sweet, nutty, pear-like flavor superior to Gala. Despite these desirable traits, Hudson’s Golden Gem popularity has languished, perhaps as a result of the heavy russeting on its greenish skin. You may prefer a smooth, shiny skin on your apple, but if you enjoy a sweet apple with lots of juice, Hudson’s will not disappoint.

Shamrock apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Shamrock apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Shamrock is a new apple, originating in British Columbia in 1992. To date, it has not been as well-received as Honeycrisp. But we predict a bright future for this green apple with a pink blush, as an East Coast alternative to Granny Smith, which requires too long a growing season to be widely cultivated in New England.

The main reason for our optimism is Shamrock’s highly unusual flavor: tart and crisp, with strong hints of butterscotch. Its flesh is a creamy light green. Good for both fresh eating and cooking, Shamrock is an outstanding choice to include with other varieties in pies, crisp, and sauce.

Shamrock is the result of a Spur McIntosh crossed with a Spur Golden Delicious. (Spurs are slow-growing leafy shoots. On spur-type apples, the fruit spurs and leaf buds are more closely spaced than on non-spur strains. The tree grows about 25 percent smaller than the standard variety.)

Bartletts, Boscs, and Asian pears are the varieties most commonly grown in New England. Any of them will work well in this recipe.

Clockwise, from front left: Asian pear, Empire, Hudson's Golden Gem, Macoun, Honeycrisp, and Shamrock, with Gala in the middle. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Clockwise, from front left: Asian pear, Empire, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Macoun, Honeycrisp, and Shamrock, with Gala in the middle. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Apple Pear Cranberry Crisp

Use a mix of 6 New England apples, like Hudson’s Golden Gem, Honeycrisp, and Shamrock

1 pear, like Asian, Bosc, or Bartlett

1/4 c whole cranberries

1 T lemon juice

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

Topping:


3/4 c whole wheat flour

1/4 c old-fashioned oats

1/4 c brown sugar or 1/3 c maple syrup

5 T butter

Preheat oven to 350˚. Core and slice apples and pear into a buttered 8” square pan. Sprinkle cranberries, lemon juice, and spices over the apples.
Combine topping ingredients to cover the apples.
Bake for 45 minutes or until apples have softened.

* * *

THIS WEEKEND presents several opportunities to sample New England apples around the region, old and new. Here are three; check your local orchards for other tastings.

October 22-23: Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts, hosts its 28th annual AppleFest, where a number of varieties provided by Red Apple Farm in Phillipston will be available for sampling.

October 22-23: An heirloom apple tasting event will be held at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, from noon to 3 p.m. They have a good supply of Hudson’s Golden Gem, among many others.

October 22: Russell Steven Powell and Bar Lois Weeks of the New England Apple Association will make a presentation about the region’s apples at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut, at 2 p.m. Refreshments will include apple pie and cider.

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ANOTHER WAY to learn about apple varieties grown in New England is to view our three-part series describing them, featuring Chuck and Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire.

One of the videos is below; the others can be accessed at New England apple varieties. In addition to the videos, you will find photographs and descriptions of more than 100 varieties grown in the region.

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Sample Hudson's Golden Gem and other heirloom apples at Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, October 22 and 23. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Sample Hudson’s Golden Gem and other heirloom apples at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, October 22 and 23. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A CENTURY AGO they were the three most popular varieties in the Northeast. Today, Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, and Northern Spy apples are hard-to-find heirlooms. But a number of orchards still feature them, and they are definitely worth seeking out. Visit Find An Apple on our New England Apples website to find where they are grown.

These three apples gradually decreased in popularity in the early 1900s. They presented certain challenges for growers. Northern Spies take longer than most varieties to begin bearing fruit. Rhode Island Greenings typically bear heavily only every other year. Baldwins went through a devastating freeze during the winter of 1934 that wiped out more than half their numbers. Meanwhile, varieties like McIntosh and Cortland rose in popularity.

Yet today Baldwin, Rhode Island Greening, and Northern Spy are enjoying a modest comeback, for good reason. All three apples are excellent for cooking, especially in pies. They share a New England heritage — Baldwin in Massachusetts, Northern Spy in Connecticut, the Rhode Island Greening, obviously, in Rhode Island. They each have a distinctive, sweet-tart taste that makes them excellent for fresh eating as well as cooking.

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Many a mother, great aunt, or grandmother considers Northern Spy the best pie apple. It’s big, for one thing — a not insignificant virtue when trying to satiate a hungry household. Northern Spies also hold their shape while cooking, a valuable quality for cooks who like to pile their pies high.

Yet size and stability are not the main reasons generations of cooks have favored the Northern Spy. After all, Mom’s apple pie lingers on in memory due to its exquisite flavor, not its bulk.

In his classic work, The Apples of New York (1905), S. A. Beach is positively effusive about Northern Spy. Comparing it with Baldwin and Rhode Island Greening, Beach writes that Northern Spy “is superior to either of these in flavor and quality.

“The flesh is very juicy, crisp, tender, and most excellent for either dessert or culinary uses.”

The seed that produced Northern Spy came from Salisbury, Connecticut, around 1800, on the farm of Heman Chapin. Chapin planted the seeds after moving to East Bloomfield, New York. Northern Spy was released 40 years later. Its parentage is unknown.

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Baldwin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Baldwin is even older than Northern Spy, originating in Wilmington, Massachusetts, in 1740. While its parents, too, are a mystery, Baldwin has a well-documented history. Its cultivation passed from Ball to Butters to Baldwin: John Ball, owner of the original orchard; a Mr. Butters, who later purchased the land; and finally Colonel Loammi Baldwin, who gave the apple its permanent name.

Baldwins were first named Woodpeckers because the tree was popular with those birds, and then Butters, after the orchard’s one-time owner.

Introduced commercially around 1784, by 1850 Baldwins were the Northeast’s most popular apple. They remained so for more than fifty years.

Baldwins, too, are excellent in pies as well as for fresh eating; they are aromatic, with a spicy, sweet-tart flavor, and they hold their shape well.

Rhode Island Greening apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Rhode Island Greening apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Rhode Island Greening is one of America’s oldest apples, dating back to the 1600s, discovered coincidentally by a Mr. Green, an innkeeper in Green’s End near Newport. Rhode Island Greenings were widely cultivated in the Northeast during the 17th century, and at the time of Beach’s book, they were “grown more extensively … than any other apple except the Baldwin.”

A source even older than Beach, Charles Mason Hovey’s 1852 The Fruits of America, writes of Rhode Island Greening, “As a cooking apple, the Greening is unsurpassed; and as a dessert fruit of its season, has few equals.”

Rhode Island Greening has a delicately tart flavor and a tender, juicy flesh that is often a lighter green in color than its skin.

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HERE’S A VARIATION on apple pie from Sally Powell of North Lebanon, Maine, who got it from her mother, Beatrice Boyce, of Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, Massachusetts, where Sally was born and raised. At age 87, she made it just the other day, using the skillet given to her on her wedding day in 1948.

My Mother’s Apple Pudding

Dough:

3 T butter

1/3 c sugar

1 egg

1 t vanilla

1 c white or whole wheat flour

1-1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/4 c milk

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well. Mix dry ingredients together, and add to batter alternately with milk. Set aside.

Filling:

4 Northern Spy or other New England apples, cored and sliced

1-2 T butter (Sally’s comment: “Don’t be stingy with it!”)

1/3 c sugar

1 t cinnamon

In bottom of large cast iron skillet, melt butter, cover generously with sliced apples, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Drop spoonfuls of dough on top. Leave open spaces between spoonfuls. Place skillet in oven and bake at 350° for about 50 minutes, or until apples are soft. Remove from oven, and turn over onto serving dish.

My Mother’s Apple Pudding can be eaten as is, or “covered with good old Jersey cow cream,” says Sally. She should know: Elm Hill Farm was famous for more than apples, as home of Borden’s original Elsie the Cow, a good old Jersey.

Note:  An 8″ x 8″ baking dish can be used in place of the skillet.

For variation, drizzle butterscotch or caramel sauce over the pudding.

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‘TIS THE SEASON to sample apples, especially now that varieties like Baldwin, Northern Spy, and Rhode Island Greening are starting to come in. Other, more widely available late-season apples include Fuji, IdaRed, Mutsu (aka Crispin), Rome, and both Golden and Eastern Red Delicious.

We know of places to sample a variety of New England apples, old and new, in three states this month. Check your local orchards for other tastings.

October 15-16 and 22-23: Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts, hosts its 28th annual Applefest, where a number of varieties provided by Red Apple Farm in Phillipston will be available for sampling. Among Applefest’s events is an apple pie contest Saturday, October 15, at 3:30 p.m.

October 22-23: An heirloom apple tasting event will be held at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire, from noon to 3 p.m.

October 22: Russell Powell and Bar Weeks of the New England Apple Association will make a presentation about the region’s apples at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut, at 2 p.m. Refreshments will include apple pie and cider.

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RICH APPLE FLAVOR tops the list, but one thing that separates the heavenly, from the merely mortal, apple pie is the quality of the crust. Making flaky piecrust is an art that takes years to perfect. It used to be that lard was considered essential for this task, but seasoned pie chefs like Marge Cook of Cook’s Farm Orchard in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and Andrea Darrow of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, make a superb crust using butter.

The video below features Andrea’s methods for making a perfect crust (two other videos on the Recipes page of our website take the pie from assembly to baking).

When it comes to pie crust, practice is as important as method. But no matter how many times it takes you to become expert at working the dough, the flavor of the filling will always satisfy your audience.

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The view from Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The view from Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

MOST PEOPLE THINK RED first when they think of apples. This takes in a multitude of varieties, after all, like the aptly named IdaRed or Eastern Red Delicious, to name two, across a spectrum of colors from pink to burgundy to crimson.

Then come the green apples (such as Rhode Island Greening, Shamrock, Granny Smith), and dozens of varieties that combine the two (famously the McIntosh, Cortland, and Macoun).

There are the yellows (Golden Delicious, Crispin, Silken) and browns (all of the russeted apples). There is even a dark-skinned Blue Pearmain and a Black Oxford.

Various combinations of these many hues create a kaleidoscope of apple colors.

But when it comes to apples, most people don’t think of orange. Yet this shade often characterizes one of the world’s most popular apple varieties, Gala. Then there is Cox’s Orange Pippin, England’s most famous apple. Two heirloom varieties also originating in the United Kingdom, Ashmead’s Kernel and Ribston Pippin, are similarly distinguished by their unusual orange cast.

Ashmead's Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ashmead’s Kernel apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Some describe Ashmead’s Kernel’s appearance as “dull,” with which we take issue. We consider Ashmead’s Kernel to be a rather stunning apple for the distinctly orange tones that shine through its russeting.

Disagreement over Ashmead’s Kernel appearance is nothing, however, compared to the wildly varying attempts to describe its flavor. Ashmead’s Kernel has been said to taste like pear drops, nutmeg, or lemon, and smelling like tea!

Its initial Madeira-like mellowness of flavor overlies a deeper honeyed nuttiness, crisply sweet not sugar sweet,” wrote the late food writer Philip Morton Shand about Ashmead’s Kernel. “Surely no apple of greater distinction or more perfect balance can ever have been raised anywhere on earth.” (Shand, incidentally, was the grandfather of Camilla Parker Bowles, wife of Prince Charles).

Not surprisingly, an apple this delicious but hard to characterize is also versatile, good for eating fresh, in salads and cooking, and it is also prized for juice and hard cider. It tends to sweeten after it is picked, usually in late September and October. A doctor in Gloucester, England in the 1700s, generally is credited with its discovery, from a chance seedling.

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ribston Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Ribston Pippin is orange-brown in color, ripening to crimson and gold. Like Ashmead’s Kernel, it has a strong flavor that continues to develop after harvest, and has been compared to pears. Ribston Pippin was first grown in 1707 in the United Kingdom and was popular in the 1800s, when it was first shipped to America.

Today, Ribston Pippin is grown in fewer orchards than its more famous offspring, Cox’s Orange Pippin, but it is worth the search for its elegant appearance and flavor. It is a mid-season apple, ripening in September, and does not store particularly well.

Cox’s Orange Pippin, as its name implies, is predominantly orange-red hue in color, with red-striping. It spicy, aromatic flavor make it an excellent choice for cider as well as fresh eating.

Like its orange British counterparts, its flavor is as complex as a fine wine. The Orange Pippin website, for example, describes Orange Cox’s Pippin as “a variety for the connoisseur, who can delight in the appreciation of the remarkable range of subtle flavors — pear, melon, freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice, and mango are all evident in a good example.”

Cox's Orange Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cox’s Orange Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cox’s Orange Pippin was developed in the United Kingdom as a chance seedling around 1825. It ripens in late September to early October.

These three orange apples from England are dwarfed today by Gala, one of the most widely grown apples in the world. Gala is a red-orange apple with yellow striping, crunchy and juicy, with a sweet, pear-like flavor. Gala apples are outstanding for snacking, salads, and baking, and are ready for picking in September.

While orange is present in nearly all Galas, they tend to have a yellowish cast early in the season and become a darker red-orange as the season progresses.

Developed in New Zealand and introduced in 1934, Gala derives its genetic heritage from Cox’s Orange Pippin, Kidd’s Orange Red, and both Red and Golden Delicious. Among its offspring is Jazz.

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Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD YEAR FOR GALAS in New England, and we have been featuring them in our booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, from Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville, and Tougas Family Farm in Northborough.

While Galas are grown around the globe, nothing compares to their flavor straight from the tree at a New England orchard. This weekend’s forecast — sunny, in the 60s — is ideal for apple-picking, whether for Galas, or heirlooms like Ashmead’s Kernel. Visit our New England Apples website and choose the link Find An Apple to see where unusual varieties can be found, and call ahead to your orchard to see what’s picking.

If you are going to the Big E, which ends Sunday, be sure to visit our booth and sample some cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, and Atkins Farm cider donuts, made fresh every morning in Amherst. Or try some apple crisp and apple pies made by Marge Cook at Cook’s Farm in Brimfield, in addition to fresh apples from Red Apple Farm in Phillipston and Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield.

We’ll also have supplies of our new 2012 New England Apples calendar for sale, recipe cards, and our brochure/poster. We’d love to talk apples!

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CONTINUING THE ORANGE THEME, here is one of the recipes we’re handing out at the Big E, combining apples with another orange star of the season. It came to us from The Big Apple in Wrentham.

Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash

5 New England apples, cored and diced

3 acorn squash, halved

1 c nuts, chopped

3/4 c maple syrup

1/4 c butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400º. Clean out squash and place in large baking dish filled with 1/2-inch water. Combine apples, nuts, maple syrup, and butter. Fill cavity of squash with this mixture. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.

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Dowse Orchards

A hawk surveys the apple crop at Dowse Orchards in Sherborn, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

FEW APPLES ARE AS EAGERLY ANTICIPATED every fall as Macoun, and apple lovers will be happy to know that they are now available at most New England orchards.

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

While they are good for most culinary uses, Macouns are highly sought-after as a fresh-eating apple. Their sweet-tart flavor evokes McIntosh (which is one of Macoun’s parents). But Macoun has a harder, crisper flesh than the Mac, and its complex flavor hints of strawberry and spices. Macouns have a striated green and red color similar to a Cortland, and a sometimes angular, almost boxy shape, further distinguishing it from McIntosh.

Macouns do not keep as well as some varieties, another reason they are coveted in the fall. Macouns flourish in New England; on a recent day we received queries from Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania inquiring where Macouns could be found, and in our booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition (the “Big E”), the Macouns supplied by Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville, Massachusetts, were snapped up quickly. We hope to replenish them before the end of the fair.

McIntosh supplies much of Macoun’s flavor and bouquet. Jersey Black, Macoun’s other parent, is an American heirloom once known as Black Apple due to its dark color, contributing to Macoun’s wine-red tones and irregular shape.

Macoun was developed in 1909 by Richard Wellington at Cornell University’s New York Agricultural Experiment Station, and released commercially in 1923. It was named for Canadian pomologist W. T. Macoun. Macoun, by the way, is pronounced as if spelled “MacCowan,” although some people insist on saying “MacCoon.” Any way you say or slice it, Macoun is a delicious apple, and this is the peak season to bite into one.

If you bring home too many to eat fresh, or simply want to explore Macouns’ flavors in cooking, here’s a recipe we’ve adapted from Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, Massachusetts, originally attributed to Kitty Patterson.

We have visited a number of New England orchards this fall, and many have exceptional crops. But none are more lush than the one at Tougas Family Farm (if you get to the Big E this weekend, we may still have some of Tougas Family Farm’s Galas on hand). But wherever you go to pick or purchase your apples, this is the ideal time to visit your local orchard to sample the season’s bounty.

Apple Crisp Pie

1 9-inch pie crust

4-5 Macoun or other New England apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

3/4 c plus 2-3 T sugar

¾ c flour

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

3 T brown sugar

1/2 c butter at room temperature

Toss apples with the 2-3 T sugar. Place into uncooked pie shell, rounding up on center. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl, mixing until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Sprinkle over top of apples. Bake 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350° for 30 minutes more until crunchy and brown.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION about New England’s apple varieties and orchards, visit our website at  www.newenglandapples.org.

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Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, is just one of New England's many pick-your-own orchards. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, is just one of New England’s many pick-your-own orchards. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

COMPARED TO MANY VARIETIES, McIntosh is a finicky apple. The creamy flesh beneath their thin skin bruises easily, and, more than most varieties, it is essential that they be kept cold after picking, or they go soft.

Macs break down easily when cooked, and their flavor, so tart and crisp in the fall, mellows with age over time to a sweeter taste and pear-like texture. Their color is a variable mix of red and green, lacking the bold intensity of monochromatic varieties like the uniformly green Granny Smith or the ubiquitous Red Delicious.

McIntosh is an heirloom variety, dating back to the early 1800s, and for years now, newer varieties with sexier names like Jazz and Pink Lady have attempted to challenge its supremacy. Yet today, McIntosh still accounts for nearly two-thirds of the New England apple crop.

Given its quirky qualities, why has the popularity of McIntosh endured for more than two centuries? Simply put, the McIntosh is one great apple! Its fragrance is unrivaled, its flavor legendary, its versatility endless.

It may require handling with care, but it’s well worth it. It wouldn’t be fall in New England without McIntosh apples.

No apple eaten fresh better evokes the feeling of a New England autumn than McIntosh. Its juiciness and distinctive sweet-tart flavor spectacularly usher in the fall harvest, and should be savored and celebrated at every opportunity, whether at the grocery store, the farm stand, the farmer’s market, or the orchard.

Whether you’re making applesauce, pies, crisp, or cider, make McIntosh part of the mix. Some people, for that matter, favor a mushier pie, and use all Macs for their superior flavor. Almost any dish is made better by including this aromatic apple.

That New England grows some of the finest McIntosh in the world is no accident. Our rocky soils, long, hot summers, and crisp fall days are particularly well-suited for this variety, discovered on a farm in Ontario, Canada. With technological advances like cold atmosphere (CA) storage, McIntosh now retain their crispness and flavor throughout the year as long as they’re kept cold from the storage room to your table.

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McIntosh is among the New England apple varieties now ready for picking. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

McIntosh is among the New England apple varieties now ready for picking. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION opens this Friday, September 16, and once again New England Apples will have a booth in the Massachusetts State Building. Come visit us to learn more about apples! For sale are many varieties of apples, fresh cider, apple pies and crisp, cider donuts, cider apple posters, and our new 2012 New England Apples wall calendar. It’s a beauty!

During the 17-day fair, we give out recipe cards with our favorite apple recipes. Here is one of them. It’s our Featured Recipe on the Home page of our website, http://www.newenglandapples.org, as well:

Grandmother’s Apple Crisp

6 New England apples, like McIntosh, Cortland, or Northern Spy

1 T lemon juice

Topping:

1/2 c white or whole wheat flour

1/4 c oats

3/4 c white/brown sugar mix

2 t cinnamon

1/2 t salt

1/2 c butter

Preheat oven to 350 ̊. Core and slice apples into a buttered 8” square pan. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples. Combine topping ingredients to cover the apples. Bake for 45 minutes, or until apples have softened. Serves 6.

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NEARLY EVERY New England apple orchard includes McIntosh among its varieties (we can’t think of one that doesn’t). But if you want to combine your Macs with some new or hard-to-find varieties, try the “Find an Apple” feature on the home page of our New England Apples website to access our variety index. Click on the apple you’re looking for to find where they are grown.

You can find a wealth of information about New England’s apple orchards by visiting our Orchards by State page. Click on the appropriate state for complete listings from our orchards, including hours, directions, and varieties. Each listing indicates if the orchard offers pick-your-own or has a farm stand, and includes other products and special activities.

From there, click through to the websites of individual orchards to see what’s available at the moment or to order products online. You can also locate an orchard in your area by clicking the “Find An Orchard” link at the top right of our home page and searching by zip code or map with our Virtual Orchard Finder.

The forecast for this weekend — sunny, in the 60s — is perfect for apple picking. If you’re planning to visit an orchard, take a few minutes to watch the video below, which offers some suggestions about how best to prepare. Enjoy!

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