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Posts Tagged ‘Green Mountain Orchards’

Apple pie should be eaten “while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!), of a mild and modest warmth, the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied, the morsels of apple neither dissolved nor yet in original substance, but hanging as it were in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood … then, O blessed man, favored by all the divinities! Eat, give thanks, and go forth, ‘in apple-pie order!'”

— Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

DO NOT be put off from making apple pie out of fear of a bad crust. While it takes some practice to make a truly great crust, chances are your audience for fresh apple pie will be forgiving of your early efforts to master the art, even if just as a flavorful way to hold the filling. Like most things, pastry making gets better with experience, so forge on!

Here are two different styles of pie crust. “Dense and Delicious Whole Wheat Oil Pastry Crust” is healthier but harder to roll out than “Rich Pie Crust,” which is why wax paper is recommended.

Andrea Darrow of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, further explains the basics of good dough making in the video below, “Making A Perfect Pie Crust.”

Rich Pie Crust

makes 1 crust

1-1/4 c flour (may be half whole wheat)

1/4 t salt

1/2 c butter, cold and cut up into small pieces

1/4 c ice-cold water (or 2 T water plus 1 egg yolk)

Dense and Delicious Whole Wheat Oil Pastry Crust

makes 2 crusts

2-1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 t salt

1/2 c vegetable oil

1/2 c ice-cold water or better, milk

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl. Combine oil and water/milk in a small bowl and pour all at once into the flour. Mix the dough, divide it in half, wrap two flattened balls in plastic wrap, then chill for about 10 minutes. Roll out either on a floured surface or between waxed paper.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”

Jane Austen

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Here are two good choices among the many outstanding pie apples:

Many people consider Macoun the best fresh-eating apple, but it is also outstanding in pies. Macouns are esteemed by apple connoisseurs for their crispy, juicy flesh and rich, complex flavors that hint of strawberry and spices. Macouns do not store well compared to many varieties, making them in great demand during harvest in mid-September.

Named after a Canadian pomologist, this variety is pronounced as if spelled “MacCowan.” It was developed in Canada in the early 1900s, the offspring of McIntosh and Jersey Black, an American heirloom apple once known as Black Apple due to its dark color.

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Northern Spy apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Another popular choice for pies is the heirloom variety Northern Spy, a larger than average apple with a deep red skin with red striping. It has a strong, sweet flavor and crisp texture. Northern Spy are good for fresh eating, drying, and juice, as well as in pies.

The first seed of Northern Spy came from Salisbury, Connecticut around 1800, and it was first grown by H. Chapin of East Bloomfield, New York. Introduced commercially in 1840, it quickly became a success, especially in the Northeast and Canada. It is a mid-season apple; harvest typically begins in late September or early October.

“To a foreigner a Yankee is an American. To an American a Yankee is a Northerner. To a Northerner a Yankee is a New Englander. To a New Englander a Yankee is a Vermonter. To a Vermonter a Yankee is a person who eats apple pie for breakfast.”

—   Traditional

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WHAT IS the best pie apple? There are several schools of thought on this.

Some people have their absolute favorites, and will go the extra mile to obtain them. More than one baker dispatched their adult child on a pilgrimage to our booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition in September when word got out that we were in possession of some Red Gravensteins. These emissaries purchased a bagful of these hard-to-find heirloom apples to fashion into a pie made exclusively with them. Similarly, we know of several sage bakers who insist that there is no better pie apple than Northern Spy, another heirloom.

Then there is the mix-and-match strategy (one we favor), where you combine a few apples each of several varieties to produce a pie rich in texture (with varieties like Cortland or Honeycrisp) and flavor (such as McIntosh and Empire). Using this method, you can experiment until you find just the right blend of sweet and tart to please your palate. Texture, too, is subjective; some like a mushy pie, while others prefer that their fork meets some resistance.

Perhaps food writer Ken Haedrich put it best in his 2002 book Apple Pie Perfect (Harvard Common Press): “Don’t worry so much about variety. Just get to know your apples and start making pies. The fact is, I’ve met very few apples in my lifetime that I couldn’t make into a respectable pie.”

Apple pie production is in high gear at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Apple pie production is in high gear at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

However you approach it, we are now entering a peak period for pies heading into the holiday season. We’ll be presenting a different apple pie recipe for each of the next three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, accompanied by videos featuring Andrea Darrow of Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vermont, who takes you step-by-step through her pie-making process. In Part 1 of the series, Andrea prepares apples for the pie filling. She makes hundreds of pies a year for the orchard’s farm stand, and she peels the apples by hand for every single one of them.

One of my sisters-in-law brought this pie to Thanksgiving dinner in 1983, and it has been a family favorite ever since. It calls for baking mix (aka Bisquick) in two places, but you can easily substitute this homemade version instead. Mix together:

1-1/2 c whole wheat flour

2-1/4 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

2 T butter

Impossible French Apple Pie

In a large bowl, combine and turn into greased deep-dish pie plate:

6 c sliced New England apples

1-1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

In medium bowl, beat until smooth, and pour over apples:

1/2 c sugar

3/4 c milk

1/2 c baking mix

2 eggs

2 T softened butter

In medium bowl, mix streusel topping, and sprinkle over pie:

1 c baking mix

1/2 c chopped walnuts

1/3 c brown sugar

3 T butter

Bake at 325˚ for 1 hour.

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Ripe apples on the tree at Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Ripe apples on the tree at Green Mountain Orchards, Putney, Vermont (Russell Steven Powell photo)

BARRING A LAST-MINUTE SURPRISE from Hurricane Earl, this should be a delicious holiday weekend for picking apples across New England. The forecast is for sunny weather Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with daytime temperatures in the 70s throughout most of the region.

Depending on your location, you may get to pick the season’s first McIntosh apples. They are running a week to 10 days early in most places, so you can get a head start on New England’s favorite apple, just in time for school lunches. If the Macs aren’t ready for picking at your favorite orchard, there should be plenty of other early varieties to choose from. You can call ahead to find out what’s being picked.

Overall, it is shaping up to be a good New England apple crop. Total volume region-wide is down about 17 percent, the result primarily of frost damage in late spring, particularly in the northern states. But you won’t notice the shortage this fall, if at all. Early reports indicate that New England’s apples are especially flavorful this year and that they are in abundance and of good color and size.

A day in the orchard is a powerful experience. The lush fruit hanging from the tree, the sweet aroma of apples in the air, and the gentle background sounds of honeybees and insects combine to flood the senses. You’ll feel calmer for the experience, and bring home some of the freshest, healthiest, tastiest food you can buy, with the satisfaction of having picked it yourself.

But don’t take our word for it. Discover the pleasure of apple-picking on your own.

*

THE 2010 NEW ENGLAND FRESH APPLE HARVEST will be celebrated Friday, September 10, in a daylong event around the region.

In Massachusetts, Commissioner of Agriculture Scott Soares, and Executive Director of New England Apple Association, Russell Powell, will visit  these apple orchards and apple processing facilities:

10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. J. P. Sullivan, packing house, Ayer

11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Carlson Orchards, with cider-making, Harvard

:15 p.m. to :45 p.m. Red Apple Farm, Phillipston

Beginning Friday evening through the weekend, the New England Apple Association and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources will sample apples and give away recipes, brochures, and other educational materials at a booth at the Sterling Fair.

The fair’s hours are Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Commissioner Soares and Powell will give a presentation on New England apple varieties Sunday at 11 a.m.

Details about events in the other New England states to follow!

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