Posts Tagged ‘apple packing house’

Pink Lady apple (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Pink Lady apple (Russell Steven Powell photo)

PINK LADY has it all: a highly distinctive color; rich flavor; a glamorous name evoking the grenadine-laced cocktail of the same name; and legal intrigue worthy of Perry Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner’s famous fictional attorney. Pink Lady is a firm, crisp, sweet-tart apple with beautiful pink coloring over a yellow-green peel. The level of its pink color symbolizes the controversy over this variety, as its intensity separates the premium from the pedestrian — even the name.

If you are confused, you are not alone. The variety’s original name is Cripps Pink. The marketing brand available only to licensed growers and sellers is Pink Lady. Either way, it is the same apple. Yet Pink Lady commands a premium in the marketplace, primarily because of its distinctive solid pink color, one of the main criteria for licensing (along with sugar content and acidity).

Pink Lady was one of the first varieties to be trademarked and then “managed” by being licensed to a limited number of growers, or “clubs.” The trend has accelerated and been refined since Pink Lady was introduced, further limiting the availability of new varieties to only growers who are admitted to the club. Seen as a way to maintain quality, control production, and return more money to the university-based breeding programs that develop the apples, managed or club varieties shut out many growers.

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pink Lady apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Pink Lady was developed in the 1970s by John Cripps at the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and introduced commercially in 1989. It is a cross of Golden Delicious and Lady Williams. Lady Williams is not well-known in North America, but this chance seedling from the 1930s is widely grown in its native Australia.

It is probably from Lady Williams that Pink Lady gets its characteristic pink blush, layered over a yellow base supplied by Golden Delicious. Pink Lady also owes its conical shape to Golden Delicious.

But if the apple has too much of the Golden’s base coloring, Pink Lady reverts to Cripps Pink (the apple must be two-thirds pink to qualify for the premium label). To heighten the pink color, some growers remove leaves from the tops of the trees to admit more light, or they place reflective strips on the ground beneath the rows of trees to increase sunlight to fruit on the lower branches.

Pink Lady is an outstanding all-purpose apple, good for fresh eating, cooking, and in sauce. A firm apple, Pink Lady holds its shape during cooking, making it a good apple to pair with softer varieties like McIntosh or Cortland. Pink Lady is a late-season apple, not ready for picking until mid- to late October, and it stores well in refrigeration.

If you’re out shopping for a Christmas tree in the Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury, Connecticut area, they are running a special through December 24: buy a Fraser fir Christmas tree and receive free Pink Ladies! Visit belltownhillorchards.com/farm-market/specials-of-the-week. Call 860-633-2789 for details.

Here is a delicious salad in which Pink Ladies excel. Feel free to substitute with other New England apple varieties, as long as they are on the firm side.

Pink Lady Stir-Fry Salad 

2 T sesame or olive oil

1 T tamari sauce (or soy sauce)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, chopped fine

1/2 c vegetable or chicken broth

2 c broccoli florets

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 t dried thyme

2 New England Pink Lady apples, unpeeled, cored, and chopped

1/2 c fresh basil or parsley, chopped

5-oz box arugula, arranged on serving platter

2 oz bleu cheese, crumbled

In large skillet, heat oil on medium, being careful to keep it from smoking. Add tamari, garlic, and onion. Stir-fry two minutes. Stir in broth, broccoli, red pepper, and thyme; cover and continue cooking five minutes. Remove from heat; stir in apples and basil/parsley. Place on platter over chilled arugula. Top with crumbled bleu cheese.

Option: Serve with Fakin’ Bacon tempeh or strips of chicken from two broiled chicken breasts.


NOW THAT THE FRESH APPLES are picked, see what happens when they enter the packinghouse:


'America's Apple' coverLOOKING FOR AN APPLE GIFT for the holidays for the apple-lovers in your life? Here are two suggestions: the 2015 New England Apples wall calendar, and America’s Apple, the new book about apple-growing by Russell Steven Powell. Both the calendar and book feature photography by Powell and Bar Lois Weeks.

2015 New England Apples wall calendar

2015 New England Apples wall calendar

For information on how to order book or calendar, visit Brook Hollow Press.

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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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