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Posts Tagged ‘Green Mountain Orchards’

The trees are loaded at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, although McIntosh will not be ready for picking until next week. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The trees are loaded at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, although McIntosh will not be ready for picking until next week. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan enjoys an apple at Mack's Apples in Londonderry, where she read her proclamation officially recognizing September as New England Apple Month. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan enjoys an apple at Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, where she read her proclamation officially recognizing September as New England Apple Month. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

NEW HAMPSHIRE Gov. Maggie Hassan, Rhode Island Chief of Agriculture Ken Ayars, Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture John Lebeaux, Massachusetts State Senator James Eldridge, and Jim Bair, president of USApple, were among the officials visiting orchards Wednesday and Thursday to officially launch the 2015 New England apple harvest.

Many varieties of apples will be available for picking this Labor Day Weekend, including McIntosh, Gala, and Cortland at a number of orchards. Ripening times vary from orchard to orchard, so always call ahead to find out what is available.

Here are a few scenes from New England Apple Day from around the region.

Time to get picking!

Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture John Lebeaux, right, and Assistant Commissioner Jason Wentworth grab some apples while touring the new packing line at J. P. Sullivan Co., in Ayer. Commissioner Lebeaux earlier presented Fairview Orchards Manager Sean O'Neill with a proclamation from Gov. Charles Baker naming September New England Apple Month. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture John Lebeaux, right, and Assistant Commissioner Jason Wentworth grab some apples while touring the new packing line at J. P. Sullivan Co., in Ayer. Commissioner Lebeaux earlier presented Fairview Orchards Manager Sean O’Neill with a proclamation from Gov. Charles Baker naming September New England Apple Month. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Fairview Orchards in Groton, Massachusetts, is already picking Galas, and will begin harvesting these McIntosh next week. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Fairview Orchards in Groton, Massachusetts, is already picking Galas, and will begin harvesting these McIntosh next week. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

L to R: Jim Bair, president of USApple, Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, and Ellen and Mark Parlee pf Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

L to R: Jim Bair, president of USApple, Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, and Ellen and Mark Parlee pf Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

Rhode Island Chief of Agriculture Ken Ayars took this photo of the crowd gathered at Steere Orchard in Greenville.

Rhode Island Chief of Agriculture Ken Ayars took this photo of the crowd gathered at Steere Orchard in Greenville.

L to R: New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, owners Andrew Mack Jr., Nancy, Zoey, and Cindy Mack of Mack's Apples in Londonderry. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

L to R: New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, owners Andrew Mack Jr., Nancy, Zoey, and Cindy Mack of Mack’s Apples in Londonderry. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Owners Chuck and Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire, with Jim Bair, president of USApple. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Owners Chuck and Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm in Concord, New Hampshire, with Jim Bair, president of USApple. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Owner Tim Bassett and store manager Wendy Hsu of Gould Hill Orchards in Contoocook, New Hampshire, listen as USApple President Jim Bair discusses the current crop. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Owner Tim Bassett and store manager Wendy Hsu of Gould Hill Orchards in Contoocook, New Hampshire, listen as USApple President Jim Bair discusses the current crop. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The Honeycrisp are plentiful at Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, Vermont. They will not be ready for picking for another week or so, but Wellwood will be picking Macs and Cortlands this weekend. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The Honeycrisp are plentiful at Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, Vermont. They will not be ready for picking for another week or so, but Wellwood will be picking Macs and Cortlands this weekend. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Visitors pass through a field of flowers en route to the pick-your-own orchard at Riverview Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Visitors pass through a field of flowers en route to the pick-your-own orchard at Riverview Farm in Plainfield, New Hampshire. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

 

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The following four-minute video has tips about how to prepare for your visit to a New England pick-your-own orchard:

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The apple pie evaluators took their job seriously at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The apple pie evaluators took their job seriously at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

AFTER TWO MONTHS of intensive research, we are forced to admit failure — once again — in our perennial quest to definitively answer a question that has plagued civilization since the discovery of the cooking fire: what is the best pie apple?

Our failure was not due to a lack of effort, and we had the help of prodigious pie-makers from across the region. We began by baking, inhaling, and serving more than 2,000 five-inch, single-serving apple pies at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) for 17 days in September, and tasted not a few of them.

We talked pies with Kim Harrison, one of a team of volunteers that made the pies to raise funds for The Preservation Society in Granby, Massachusetts. We spoke with dozens of customers about the merits of one variety over another.

The Big E pies have a flaky top crust covering a filling of several varieties lightly spiced. Many people topped off their pie with vanilla ice cream, a few with thin slices of cheddar. The apples were supplied by five Massachusetts orchards: Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville, Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain, and Red Apple Farm in Phillipston.

The apple pies at the Big E featured a mix of varieties. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The apple pies at the Big E featured a mix of varieties. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Most of the pies included McIntosh, a perennial contender for the gold standard since its discovery on an Ontario farm more than two centuries ago. (McIntosh was introduced  to New England in 1868 by Vermont’s Dr. Thomas H. Hoskins.)

Its flavor and aroma are so good that most people forgive McIntosh’s tendency to break down when baked, and add at least some to any varietal mix.

Akane, an early season apple developed in Japan in 1937 and introduced in the United States in 1970, was also noteworthy in this year’s pies for its lightly tangy flavor and texture.

In our informal survey of visitors, opinions about the best pie apple ran the gamut, from heirlooms like Baldwin (Wilmington, Massachusetts, 1740) to recent entries such as Pink Lady (Australia, 1989). Northern Spy (East Bloomfield, New York, in 1840, from seeds from Salisbury, Connecticut) has a particularly loyal fan base.

The closest we came to discovery, though, was the radiance of a woman purchasing 14 Gravenstein apples, an early season heirloom from Europe that dates back to at least the 1600s. The now hard-to-find Gravs were popular in New England until the bitterly cold winter of 1933-34, when many of the trees perished (along with more than one million Baldwin trees). It has never recovered as a commercial apple, but can still be found at some orchards.

Pie preferences are often passed down from generation to generation. The woman purchasing 14 Gravensteins put six in her bag at first, and as we talked she kept adding to her total until she got to 14. She planned to make two pies with them, just the way her mother did.

It was not the first time during our years at The Big E that the sight of Gravensteins has inspired such passion, and we suspect it will not be the last. I have not made a pie using just Gravenstein, but if it is as good baked as it is eaten fresh, the woman may be on to something. The apples were special, bursting with juice, with a lightly crisp, lemony tart flavor.

The flavor of nearly all of the varieties cited at The Big E, we noted, is more tart than sweet. That’s not to say that you can’t make a great pie using sweet apples, but a hint of tartness lends a pie complexity and zest.

Bakers pose with their entries prior to judging at the 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Bakers pose with their entries prior to judging at the 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

NEXT WE TRIED immersion, serving as judges in the 5th Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest October 18 at Wachusett Mountain’s annual AppleFest in Princeton, Massachusetts. We dutifully sampled 30 pies in less than two hours, using the two-bite method: an introduction to the pie, and a second impression. It is the only way to do justice to this many pies.

There were some incredible-looking pies — entries are judged on appearance and presentation as well as flavor and texture — in two categories, Apple Only and Apple And Other. Several had latticed or elaborately sculpted crusts, including the winner of Apple Only, Theresa Matthews of Gardner, Massachusetts.

Theresa Matthews' winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie is in the foreground. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Theresa Matthews’ winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie is in the foreground. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The judges, in addition to me, were Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of the New England Apple Association, for the third year; local businessman Burt Gendron, a veteran pie taster; Julia Grimaldi, representing the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; and radio personalities Chris Zito of WSRS and Ginny Sears of WTAG, both in Worcester.

We did not know the varieties used in any pie, although we were able to identify McIntosh flavor and texture in some, and make good guesses about Cortland, an 1898 cross of McIntosh with Ben David, similar in flavor to McIntosh but larger and firmer.

Most of the entries were good to very good, with several reaching exalted status. The few low-scoring pies suffered more from lackluster crusts than poor apple flavor.

One pie pairing pears with apples tasted mostly of apples — finding a balance that allows the milder pear flavor to come through can be tricky. But apples and pears is a proven combination, well worth the effort to get it right.

Green grapes and apples, on the other hand, may go well together fresh in a fruit salad, but made an undistinguished pie filling. While there are many flavorful ways to serve apples with bacon or peanut butter, the pies that combined them did justice to neither apple nor “other.”

Other ingredients in Apple and Other were caramel, cranberries, cream cheese, raisins, walnuts, and Jack Daniels. They all worked well with this versatile fruit.

Apples in a number of pies had been sliced by a mandolin slicer, and generally this did not improve the pie’s texture. The thin, uniform slices often stick together in a stack, which can lead to uneven cooking and consistency.

Theresa Matthews used only Cortland apples in her winning Apple Only pie. Both contest winners in 2012 also used just Cortland. Could this make Cortland the undisputed champ?

Chef Gerri Griswold, rear right, looks on as people sample her pies at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Chef Gerri Griswold, rear right, looks on as people sample her pies at White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

FROM THERE we conducted another experiment, at the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. Chef Gerri Griswold baked a dozen pies for our October 25 apple talk and tasting event, two each using single varieties: Cortland; Empire, a 1945 offspring of McIntosh, crossed with Red Delicious, released in 1966; Gala (New Zealand, 1934, 1970), Honeycrisp (Minnesota, 1961, released in 1991), Macoun, a 1909 cross of McIntosh with Jersey Black in New York, released in 1923); and McIntosh.

Gerri scrupulously followed the Joy of Cooking apple pie recipe for all 12 of her creations, using the same prepared Pillsbury crust. We sampled each pie several times, as did the 20 or so people of all ages in attendance. A sheet of paper nearby for our scores and comments went mostly untouched, as most people were content to savor the experience.

There was plenty of excellent pie, but no clear-cut winner. Cortland had the most support in an informal poll, but the Empire, Macoun, and McIntosh pies all had champions. The McIntosh pie had surprisingly firm texture, soft but not mushy, and holding together.

Gerri had tried a similar experiment during our first appearance at White Memorial two years ago, baking four pies using single varieties. On that day, Mutsu, a large yellow apple discovered in Japan in 1930 (also known as Crispin), was the favorite pie apple.

The pies made with the sweet Gala and Honeycrisp apples did not fare as well as the others. For most of us, they were a little too sweet and their flavor lacked character. Gerri acknowledged that were it not for the taste test she would have reduced the sugar in the pies made with these varieties.

WE CONTINUED our study this past Sunday, November 2, during Franklin County CiderDays. Sue Chadwick, who grows a wide range of rare heirloom apples at her Second Chance Farm in Greenfield, Massachusetts, kindly donated a pie for our research, one of just three left from the 20 she baked to sell at the event the day before.

Sue uses a mix of apples in her pies, and the varieties could be different every time. Even if she could tell exactly what went into each pie, it would be hard for most people to find the apples to replicate it. The pie she gave us had rich apple flavor, as good or better than any made with a single variety.

Having made such little progress, we are going back to view Andrea Darrow’s three-part video series about apple pie-making, below. Andrea, of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, bakes hundreds of apple pies every fall, peeling every apple by hand. She uses several varieties, including Cortland and McIntosh, and piles them high.

Theresa Matthews with all that was left of her winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie after the judging. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Theresa Matthews with all that was left of her winning 2014 Great New England Apple Pie Contest pie after the judging. The Apple Rose Tarts on top were long gone. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THERESA MATTHEWS has been working on her apple pies since she was a teenager. “My Mum was the reason behind that. She never measured for her pie crusts and I could never, ever get it right.”

Theresa’s preference for Cortland goes back at least a generation. “I’ve tried other apples, but I always go back to Cortland. I got that from my Mum as well.”

She did get it right. Here is the recipe for Theresa Matthews’ first-place pie.

Mum’s Apple Pie

Crust

3 c all purpose flour

1 t sea salt

1 T granulated sugar

1-½ sticks unsalted butter (cold)

⅓ c shortening (cold)

½ c ice cold water

one egg white

In a food processor bowl place flour, salt, sugar, butter, and shortening. Cover and pulse until blended about the size of peas. While running the processor, pour cold water in a steady stream until pastry ball forms. Divide into two balls, chilling for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one crust on lightly floured parchment paper 1” larger than pie tin. Carefully transfer pastry to pie tin, and try not to stretch to avoid shrinking. Take egg white and brush onto entire bottom crust and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until filling is set.

Filling

6 thinly sliced Cortland apples

½ c unsalted butter

3 T all purpose flour

¼ c water

½ c granulated sugar

½ c packed light brown sugar

1½ t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste. Add in water, sugars, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to a simmer. In a large mixing bowl place sliced apples. Pour sauce over apple slices and mix carefully to keep apple slices whole.

Carefully spoon coated apple slices into bottom crust, mounding slightly. Take care not to pour too much liquid to run out, reserving 2 T sauce. Brush bottom crust edge with egg whites and cover mounded apples with top crust, trim and press to seal. Cut slits for steam to release during cooking and brush glaze onto top of pie.

Cut pie dough scraps into the shapes of leaves and arrange them on the pie where the rose tarts will be placed. Brush glaze over leaves. Save remaining pie dough for Apple Rose Tarts (recipe below).

Place in preheated oven and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over pie to prevent burning. Bake 60-75 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool. Serve as is or with ice cream. Makes one 9” pie.

Apple Rose Tarts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Inspiration from diy-enthusiasts.com/food-fun/easy-apple-desserts-apple-roses/

2 Cortland apples sliced thinly

3 c water with 1 c sugar dissolved to make a simple syrup

1 T lemon juice (to help prevent browning)

Cinnamon sugar

Pie crust dough (left over from Mum’s Apple Pie, above)

Add apple slices to a pan of sweet syrup, making sure to cover all apples. Cook over medium-low heat until apples are pliable.

Roll out remaining pie dough in a rectangle about 8 to 10 inches wide and 10-12 inches long. Cut 8-10 one-inch wide strips along dough’s length.

Dry off 6 apple slices on a paper towel before arranging on a strip of pie dough. Lay out Overlap slices on strips so when rolled they will form the apple rose petals. Take care to leave about 1/2” of dough to seal the tart once rolled. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before rolling up tart into a rose. (Photo references available on aforementioned website)

Place tarts on parchment paper about 2 inches apart and bake for 25 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Once tarts are cool, remove from parchment and using toothpicks insert into place on baked and cooled apple pie.

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'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellAPPLES OF NEW ENGLAND (Countryman Press, 2014), a history of apple growing in New England, includes photographs and descriptions of more than 200 apple varieties discovered, grown, or sold in the region. Separate chapters feature the “fathers” of American wild apple, Massachusetts natives John Chapman (“Johnny Appleseed”) and Henry David Thorea; the contemporary orchard of the early 21st century; and rare apples, many of them photographed from the preservation orchard at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.

Author Russell Steven Powell is senior writer for the nonprofit New England Apple Association after serving as its executive director from 1998 to 2011. Photographer Bar Lois Weeks is the Association’s current executive director.

Available in bookstores everywhere.

'America's Apple' coverAMERICA’S APPLE, (Brook Hollow Press, 2012) Powell’s and Weeks’s first book, provides an in-depth look at how apples are grown, eaten, and marketed in America, with chapter on horticulture, John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed), heirloom apples, apples as food, apple drinks, food safety insects and disease, labor, current trends, and apple futures, with nearly 50 photographs from orchards around the country.

The hardcover version lists for $45.95 and includes a photographic index of 120 apple varieties cultivated in the United States. America’s Apple is also available in paperback, minus the photograph index, for $19.95, and as an ebook.

Available at numerous bookstores and orchards, and Silver Street MediaAmazon.comBarnes and Noble, and other online sources. For quantity discounts, email newenglandapples@verizon.net.

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Jonamac apples at Clearview Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonamac apples at Clearview Farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

ALTHOUGH THEY SOMETIMES COMPETE in the marketplace, New England and New York apple growers have a long tradition of cooperation and collaboration. For nearly six decades after it started in 1935, the nonprofit New England Apple Association was known by its original name, the New York and New England Apple Institute.

Cornell University’s New York Agricultural Experiment Station, in Geneva, New York, arguably the most successful apple breeding program in the world, has produce several varieties that have become New England staples, including Cortland, Empire, and Macoun, and one of our personal favorites that has not yet achieved the same prominence: Jonagold.

Here are some of the other, more-than-60 varieties developed in New York since the late 1890s, of them grown at some New England orchards. To find local orchards that grow these unusual apples, visit New England Apples and follow the link for “Find an Apple Orchard” to search by state or variety.

Burgundy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Burgundy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Burgundy is a medium-large, dark red apple, the color of Burgundy wine, with occasional light streaking. Round and oblate, its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy. Its flavor is more sweet than tart. An early season apple, it does not store very well.

Burgundy was developed by Robert Lamb and Roger D. Way in 1953, and released in 1974. Its parentage includes two other New York apples, Macoun and Monroe, and a Russian heirloom, Antonovka, known primarily for its cold hardiness.

Early McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Early McIntosh apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Early McIntosh, as its name implies, is an early season apple with McIntosh as a parent. It is mostly red, with yellow or green highlights and prominent white lenticels. Its white flesh is tender and juicy, and its sweet-tart flavor has hints of strawberry. It is best for fresh eating, and like many early season apples it does not store well.

Developed in 1909 by Richard Wellington and released in 1923, it is the result of a cross of McIntosh and Yellow Transparent, a Russian apple introduced in the United States by Dr. T. H. Hoskins of Newport, Vermont, in 1870. It is also known as Milton, for a small village in Ulster County, New York.

Jonamac apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonamac apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonamac is another early season apple with a McIntosh parent. It is a medium, round, mostly deep red in color over pale yellow-green skin. Its skin is thin but chewy, and its white flesh is aromatic and tender. Its flavor is similar to McIntosh, but a little sweeter, with a hint of strawberry. It ripens before McIntosh, and it does not store well.

Jonamac was developed by Roger D. Way in 1944 from a cross of McIntosh with the New York heirloom Jonathan, and released in 1972.

A contest was held to name the apple, and more than 500 entries were submitted. Two of the seven people suggesting the name “Jonamac” were from New England: William Darrow Sr. of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, and Rockwood Berry, then executive director of the New York-New England Apple Institute, now the New England Apple Association.

Fortune apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fortune apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Fortune is a large apple, red with green striping. Its crisp, cream-colored flesh is more tart than sweet, and it has a lively, spicy flavor. It is good for both fresh eating and cooking, and it keeps well in storage.

A 1995 cross between Empire and Schoharie Spy, a red sport of Northern Spy, Fortune is a late season apple.

Monroe apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Monroe apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Monroe is another late-season apple, medium, round, with red color over a yellow skin. Its tender, cream-colored flesh is more sweet than tart, and moderately juicy. It is a good fresh-eating apple, and it is an especially good cider apple. It stores well.

A cross of Jonathan and Rome Beauty, it was developed by Richard Wellington in 1910, and released in 1949. It grows well in parts of New England, especially Vermont, but its popularity peaked in the 1960s. It is named for Monroe County, New York.

Liberty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Liberty apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Liberty is a medium-sized, slightly conical, mostly red apple on a yellow skin. Its crisp flesh is moderately juicy and cream-colored, often with a tinge of pink. Its flavor is nicely balanced between sweet and tart.

Liberty was developed in 1978 by Robert Lamb for resistance to such common diseases as apple scab, cedar apple rust, fire blight, and mildew. Its parents are Macoun and Purdue, a variety from Indiana developed for disease resistance. 

Freedom apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Freedom apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Freedom is a late-season apple, large, oblate and round, with red striping over yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy, with flavor that is more sweet than tart. It is a good all-purpose apple, and it stores well.

Developed in 1958 for disease resistance and released in 1983, its parentage includes Golden Delicious, Macoun, Rome, and the Russian heirloom, Antonovka. Its name refers to its “freedom” from apple scab.

New York produced several noteworthy apple varieties before the New York Agricultural Experiment Station opened in 1882, including:

Chenango apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Chenango apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Chenango, or Chenango Strawberry, a mid-season apple, medium-sized, conical, mostly red over pale yellow skin. Its tender, white flesh is aromatic, its flavor mild, more sweet than tart, with hints of strawberry. It is a good all-purpose apple, but it does not store well.

Its history is unknown. It may have originated in New York’s Madison County, or it may have come to Chenango County from Connecticut. According to S. A. Beach in Apples of New York (1905), it dates back to at least 1850.

Esopus Spitzenburg apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Esopus Spitzenburg apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Esopus Spitzenburg is a tall, conical, late-season apple, mostly red with light yellow lenticels. Its crisp, juicy flesh is pale yellow. Its distinctive spicy flavor, more sweet than tart, becomes more complex in storage. It is a good all-purpose apple. It stores well.

Its origins are also unclear, but it dates to at least 1790, and it was widely planted in the 19th century. Thomas Jefferson grew many varieties of apples on his Monticello plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia (an outstanding preservation orchard is maintained there today), and Esopus Spitzenburg was one of his favorites. Writer Washington Irving was also known for liking the apple.

Green Newtown Pippin and Yellow Newtown Pippin so closely resemble each other that they are often identified as the same apple.

Green Newtown Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Green Newtown Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Green Newtown Pippin is a late-season apple, medium, round, oblate, green in color with an occasional pink blush or russeting around the stem. Its crisp, juicy flesh is pale yellow, and it is aromatic, with a balanced flavor between sweet and tart. It is an all-purpose apple especially good in cider. It stores well.

Yellow Newtown Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Yellow Newtown Pippin apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Yellow Newtown Pippin is medium to large, mostly green with a yellow blush and red streaks. Its skin is thick, its flesh crisp and moderately juicy. It has a pleasant, mildly citrus flavor, balanced between sweet and tart. A late-season apple, it stores exceptionally well.

Green Newtown Pippin and Yellow Newtown Pippin trees are so similar that it is likely that one is a sport variety of the other, though it is impossible to say which came first. Many early references dropped the color from the name altogether, referring to either apple as simply “Newtown Pippin.”

The separate strains were first recorded in 1817, but by then the varieties already had made history as the first American apple to attract significant attention in Europe. Benjamin Franklin brought grafts to England in the mid- to late-1700s, where the apple was known as Newton Pippin of New York; it could have been either Green Newton Pippin or Yellow Newton Pippin.

Yellow Newtown Pippin has had greater name recognition and commercial success as Albemarle Pippin. It was introduced in Virginia by Dr. Thomas Walker, an officer under General Edward Braddock during the French-Indian War. After Braddock’s forces were defeated trying to capture Fort Duquesne in 1755, Walker returned to his Castle Hill plantation in Albemarle County carrying scions from a Yellow Newtown tree.

When the trees bore fruit the apple was renamed Albemarle Pippin. Thomas Jefferson wrote that he had grafts of Albemarle Pippin in 1773, and they were planted at his Monticello plantation in 1778. Albemarle Pippin was a major export to England for nearly a century beginning in the mid-1700s.

The original tree grew in Newtown (now Elmhurst), Long Island, New York, in the early 1700s near a swamp on the farm of Gershom Moore.

Jonathan apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonathan apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Jonathan is a late-season, conical apple, medium-sized, bright red over a pale yellow skin. Its white flesh is aromatic, crisp, and juicy, and it has a spicy, tangy flavor balanced between sweet and tart. Applesauce made with Jonathan turns pink from its red skin color, and it is especially good in cooking. It has a relatively short storage life.

It was first cited in 1826, originating on the farm of Philip Rick, in Woodstock, New York. Its name commemorates Jonathan Hasbrouck, who spotted the apple growing in brush on Rick’s farm. While not widely grown in New England, Jonathan is parent to such apples as Jonagold and Jonamac, and it remains popular in the Midwest.

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THIS IS THE FINAL WEEKEND of the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”). New England Apples has a booth in the Massachusetts State Building daily through Sunday, September 28, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, featuring fresh apples, fresh cider, cider donuts, apple pies, and other baked goods.

More than one dozen varieties of fresh apples are being supplied by Massachusetts orchards Atkins Farms in Amherst, The Big Apple in Wrentham, Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield, Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, Cold Spring Orchard, University of Massachusetts in Belchertown, Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, and Tougas Family Farm in Northborough.

The booth features award-winning cider donuts made by Atkins Farms in Amherst, fresh, crisp apple cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard; and fresh-baked apple pies and apple crisp made with apples supplied by Cold Spring Orchard, Pine Hill Orchard, Red Apple Farm, and Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville.

Executive Director Bar Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Powell are on hand every day to meet with people and answer questions about apples. Their new book, Apples of New England, is available for sale and signing, along with their first book, America’s Apple.

The 2015 New England Apples full-color wall calendar, the revised New England Apples brochure/poster, and brochures from member Massachusetts orchards are expected during the final weekend. The Big E is the largest fair  in New England. Last year’s fair attracted 1.4 million visitors.

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Scott's Yankee Farmer, East Lyme, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Scott’s Yankee Farmer, East Lyme, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

I HAVE COOKED with apples for many years and written about them almost as long. Still, it felt a little audacious for me to bring apple squares to a professional chef, Luca Paris, to share live on his radio show on WKBK in Keene, New Hampshire, last Thursday. The recipe is an old favorite, but I had not made it for some time. What if the squares were just average, or worse?

Like many recipes, the ingredients list a range of apples (in this case, four to six). While this accounts for different-sized fruit, I always use the higher number; the low end of the range strikes me as the bare minimum, if you are low on apples. Andrea Darrow of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, in her three-part video series on how to make an apple pie, says she likes to “pile them high” with fruit, and I feel the same. I used good-sized apples, two each of Cortland, Empire, and McIntosh (nearly any variety can be used in making this recipe).

The Empires I used were an even deeper red than this one, almost burgundy. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

The Empires I used were an even deeper red than this one, almost burgundy. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

I kept the skins on, for reasons practical (the nutrients are concentrated on or just beneath the apple’s surface) and aesthetic (color). The two Empires were a deep, deep red, almost burgundy, and they gave the squares a rich hue.

To avoid stringy threads of peel I cut the apples in small, irregular chunks from the outside in until I reached the core, rather than coring and slicing them. Placing the chunks in a bowl, I chopped the skins into even smaller pieces with the aid of a biscuit cutter.

There is very little spice in these squares, just a little cinnamon. This allows the full range of naturally sweet apple flavors to come through. The different varieties impart subtly different tastes and textures to the squares; too much sugar or spice can overpower them.

The original recipe, which came to me from the late Margaret Richardson of Brookfield, Massachusetts, called for cornflakes in the middle. The crisp, light cereal flakes soak up excess moisture, add flavor, and help the squares hold together better. I substituted multigrain flakes to make them a little healthier.

The crust does not have to be perfect as long as you manage to seal most of the edges. The dash of almond extract in the glaze makes a nice contrast to the apple flavor.

I sampled a square before I left for the studio, and it tasted fine. Still, there were no guarantees that Luca or his co-host, Dan Mitchell, would like them. Luca complimented me after the first one while we were waiting to go on the air, but he might have just been being polite.

Then Dan tried a square. Then they both had another one. By show’s end, Luca had eaten two more squares — four in all — and taken some home with him. That evening, he wrote in an email, “those squares were amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!” On the strength of this endorsement, I thought it time to share the recipe.

The recipe is included in my book America’s Apple, with photographs by Bar Lois Weeks. America’s Apple can be ordered online in hardcover or as an ebook at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

— Russell Steven Powell

Peg’s Apple Squares

1 egg yolk

milk

2-1/2 c flour (use white whole-wheat for better health)

1/2 t salt

1 c butter (use half coconut oil for better health)

1 c multigrain or corn flakes

4-6 New England apples, cored and chopped

3/4 c sugar (use raw cane sugar for better health)

1 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat egg yolk in measuring cup and add enough milk to make 2/3 cup liquid.

Mix flour and salt, and cut in butter with a pastry blender.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until it forms a dough. Divide in half.

Roll out half the dough to fit into a 15-1/2” cookie sheet, pressing it into bottom and sides. Sprinkle with corn flakes. Top with apples.

Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples.

Roll out remaining dough and place on top of apples. Seal edges. Cut holes in dough to let steam escape.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until crust is brown and apples are soft.

Glaze (omit for better health):

1/2 c confectioners’ sugar

1-2 T milk

almond extract

Mix with a few drops of almond extract. Drizzle over warm squares.

***

FEBRUARY IS TIME for pruning in New England’s apple orchards. See how it is done in this two-part video series starring Mo Tougas of Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, Massachusetts:

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Solar panels at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, sit high in a field behind the retail barn. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Solar panels at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, sit high in a field behind the retail barn. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

NEW ENGLAND’S APPLE ORCHARDS are the site of more and more solar and wind installations and other renewable energy systems. It is a huge investment, but seems like a good match, as most orchards have both ample opportunity (due to their wide expanses of open land) and need (energy is one of the farm’s major expenses). Many of the installations were partially funded with state and federal grants.

New Salem Preserves in New Salem, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

New Salem Preserves in New Salem, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apex Orchards, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apex Orchards, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

While no one is saying that slick banks of black solar panels or sleek, industrial windmills make great art, in most cases they are artfully placed on land unsuitable for cultivation, hidden from view, or both. These photographs are just a sample of some of the installations in the region.

Smolak Farms, North Andover, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Smolak Farms, North Andover, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Carlson Orchards, Harvard, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

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3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A sampling of pies at the 3rd Great New England Apple Pie Contest. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

3rd Annual Great New England Apple Pie Contest, 2012 Mount Wachusett AppleFest (Russell Steven Powell photo)

MORE THAN 60 pies from around New England graced the tables at the 3rd Annual Great New England Pie Contest on Saturday, October 20, at the 29th Annual AppleFest at Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts. Both winners, Patricia Kuhn Bonita of Winthrop, Massachusetts, in the “Apple Only” category, and Denise Gokey of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in the “Apple and Other” category, featured multiple varieties of apples in their pies, but both included Cortland and Honeycrisp.

Judges were “Wachusett Pie Taster” Burt Gendron; Rick Leblanc, director of marketing for Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; Rick Patrick, assistant director of Wachusett Mountain Ski School; Russell Steven Powell, author of America’s Apple; chef Juan Sebastian of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, and Red Apple Farm; and Bar Lois Weeks, executive director of New England Apple Association.

Pies were rated on the basis of flavor, texture, crust, appearance, and presentation. It was the second straight year that Cortlands were used in both winning pies.

Here are the winning pie recipes:

Patricia Kuhn Bonita’s Apple Pie

Crust

1 c flour

1/4 t salt

5 T butter

2/3 c shortening

6-8 T water

1 T sugar

Filling

7 New England apples — McIntosh, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith

3 T butter

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c sugar

3-1/2 T flour

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

1 T lemon

Denise’s Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

Pastry crust for a 10-inch pie

Filling

1/2 c sugar

3 T cinnamon

dash nutmeg

1/8 t salt

6 c sliced New England apples (3 Honeycrisp, 2 Cortland, and 2 Golden Delicious)

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer apples to pie crust. Set aside.

Crumb topping

1 c packed brown sugar

1/2 c flour

1/2 c quick cooking oats

1/2 c butter

1/2 c chopped pecans

1/4 c caramel topping

Stir together brown sugar, flour, and oats. Cut in butter with pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (sometimes I have to mix with my hands a bit). Sprinkle crumb topping over apples.

Place pie on a cookie sheet to keep your oven clean. Cover crust edges with foil. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 25-30 minutes, or until apples are soft when pricked with a fork.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle with pecans and caramel topping. Cool on a wire rack, serve warm or at room temperature. Either way is delicious!

I have been making this pie for years, and it is always requested by my family during apple harvest!

***

'America's Apple' cover

THERE’S A WHOLE SECTION on apple pies and pie-making in America’s Apple, the new book by Russell Steven Powell, including an account of the 2011 Great New England Apple Pie Contest and a winning recipe.

Powell includes favorite apple recipes in his chapter on food. America’s Apple has chapters on apple drinks and heirloom varieties, plus an illustrated index of 120 varieties by Bar Lois Weeks.

For ordering information, visit americasapple.com.

***

LEARN HOW a pro does it!

See New England Apple Association’s three-part apple-pie making video featuring Andrea Darrow, Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont:

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McIntosh apples, Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

McIntosh apples, Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, A HOLIDAY WEEKEND, and an early crop make this a perfect time for apple picking. McIntosh, the region’s most popular apple (accounting for about two-thirds of the New England crop), are ready for picking at many orchards, more than a week ahead of schedule.

Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, and Wealthy are some of the other varieties now being harvested at orchards along Massachusetts’ Route 2 corridor, among them Sholan Farms in Leominster, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, and Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain. Visit New England apples to find the orchard nearest you, and call ahead to see what they are picking.

Al Rose of Red Apple Farm (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Al Rose of Red Apple Farm (Russell Steven Powell photo)

RED APPLE FARM celebrated its 100th anniversary yesterday, August 30. A large crowd gathered beneath the orchard’s century-old McIntosh tree to recognize the Rose family, including Commissioner of Agriculture Greg Watson, State Senator Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) and State Representative Ann Gobi (D-Spencer). Al and Nancy Rose, the third-generation owners of Red Apple Farm, served up apple cake, turnovers, cider donuts, and fresh cider to their guests, accompanied by Al’s father Bill and the next generation: children Aaron, John, Madeline, and Thomas.

Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture Greg Watson recognizes Red Apple Farm (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture Greg Watson recognizes Red Apple Farm (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Red Apple Farm has evolved from a strictly wholesale orchard to a thriving retail operation, and like a number of New England orchards (among them Carlson Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, and Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont), Red Apple is going green. A 15-kilowatt windmill towers over the orchard; installed last year, Al Rose expects it to pay for itself within two years. Much of the funding for the wind generator came from the USDA’s Rural Development Program, the Massachusetts Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

A crowd gathers before Red Apple Farm's century-old McIntosh tree. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A crowd gathers before Red Apple Farm’s century-old McIntosh tree. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

***

America's Apple

America’s Apple

DID YOU KNOW that you can’t grow a McIntosh from a McIntosh seed (or a Honeycrisp from a Honeycrisp seed)? Or that most orchards practice integrated pest management (IPM), a series of low-impact measures to manage pests and disease? Or that John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, never wore the tin-pot hat that appears in many popular depictions of him?

These are just some of the apple facts you can learn in America’s Apple, a new book by Russell Steven Powell. The 250-page book features chapters on food and drink, horticulture, heirlooms, and food safety, including favorite apple recipes and photographs of apples, orchards, and growers from across the country by Bar Lois Weeks. Included is a photographic index of 120 apple varieties grown in the United States. For more information, visit America’s Apple.

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