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Posts Tagged ‘Honey Pot Hill Orchards’

Young Macoun apples at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts, in early July. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Young Macoun apples at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts, in early July. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Vista Bella apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Vista Bella apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

APPLE SEASON is upon us! Our eyes spied a roadside stand with the word “Apples” while driving through western Vermont July 27, and sure enough, there were tote bags mounded with red fruit among the vegetables of the season.

The apples, a relatively new variety called Vista Bella, came from Apple Hill Orchard in North Clarendon. Developed at Rutgers University in 1956, Vista Bella, so named because the apple grew well in the Guatemalan highlands, was released commercially in 1974. Its heritage includes Julyred, Melba, Sonora, Starr, and Williams.

Vista Bella is a medium to small-sized, round apple, red with a green blush. Its white flesh is moderately juicy, with a flavor that is mildly tart. Some have described it as having hints of raspberry flavor. Like most early season apples, Vista Bella is best eaten soon after being picked, and does not store well. But their relatively brief appearance is a good way to introduce the 2013 fresh apple harvest, a crispy, crunchy taste of things to come.

Barring a late summer weather incident, it is shaping up to be an outstanding New England apple crop. Most of the region’s orchards experienced good weather during spring bloom, and there were few reports of frost. While the possibility of hurricanes or hail is not yet past, so far damage has been scattered and light across the six-state region.

That means that there should be plenty of apples this fall, and now that Vista Bella have arrived, there will be a steady flow of early season varieties like Ginger Gold, Jersey Mac, and PaulaRed between now and September. Check out what local orchards have available at New England apples, and call ahead to see when farm stands open or pick-your-own begins.

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Opalescent apples ripening at Blue Hills Orchard in Wallingford, Connecticut, in early July. An heirloom dating back to the 1880s, it is beautiful to behold and has a mild, sweet flavor and dense yellow flesh. Opalescents turn red as they mature, ready to harvest in early September. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Opalescent apples ripening at Blue Hills Orchard in Wallingford, Connecticut, in early July. An heirloom dating back to the 1880s, it is beautiful to behold and has a mild, sweet flavor and dense yellow flesh. Opalescents turn red as they mature, ready to harvest in early September. (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

THIS RECIPE for Green Tomato and Apple Pie was submitted to us last fall by Ruth Griggs of Northampton, Massachusetts, and we offer it now that both apples and green tomatoes are in season. Here is what Ruth wrote:

“I wrote down this recipe in the early 1970s as told to me by Louise Leu, the woman who looked over our family farm, Stone Farm, in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. Louise was of German heritage and moved next door in the early 1960s from Ozone Park, Queens, with her husband, an accomplished violinist named Lou Leu.

“Louise tended our huge vegetable garden and put up all the vegetables come harvest — both freezing and canning — plus she made jams, pickles, sauerkraut, and the like. She was also a very good cook. I suspect this is a very old recipe, as the pie is served with “rich cream” — perhaps before ice cream was invented?”

Green Tomato and Apple Pie

Brush bottom and sides of a pastry-lined pie with unbeaten egg white and cover with a layer of small green tomatoes, thinly sliced. Sprinkle with a little salt mixed with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and dot with 1 T butter creamed with 1 T brown sugar. Cover with a layer of thinly sliced, tart apples and repeat the seasoning and sugar. Add another layer of green tomatoes and two of apples, each layer seasoned and sugared. Round the filling in the center and pour in 1/3 cup apple cider.

Adjust the top crust, make a few slashes, and brush with milk. Bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is delicately browned. Serve warm or cold with rich cream.

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Honeycrisp (foreground) and Gala are among the apple varieties now ripe for picking at orchards like Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Honeycrisp (foreground) and Gala are among the apple varieties now ripe for picking at orchards like Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE 2012 NEW ENGLAND APPLE CROP was celebrated around the region yesterday, as state officials in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont visited orchards to meet with growers and sample fresh-picked apples.

Mary Jordan (3rd from right) of the Department of Agricultural Resources presents Karen Green, Stephanie Waite, and Gail Conlin of Westward Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick naming September "Apple Month." (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Mary Jordan (3rd from right) of the Department of Agricultural Resources presents Karen Green, Stephanie Waite, and Gail Conlin of Westward Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick naming September “Apple Month.” (Russell Steven Powell photo)

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick and the state legislature declared September “Apple Month.” Officials from the Department of Agricultural Resources visited Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Bolton Orchards in Bolton, and Westward Orchards in Harvard to present signed copies of the declaration.

In Connecticut, Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky read Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proclamation of September 5, at New England Apple Day at Belltown Hill Orchards in South Glastonbury. In Rhode Island, Ken Ayars, Chief of Agriculture, presented a similar proclamation at Appleland Orchard in Smithfield. State officials in New Hampshire gathered at Apple Hill Farm in Concord to show their support and present their New England Apple Day proclamation.

The 2012 New England apple crop is expected to be smaller than normal due to damage inflicted by a spring frost and scattered hail in mid-summer, but over all the harvest looks strong and is off to a robust start, a week or more ahead of schedule. There will be plenty of fresh apples for picking throughout the season.

Varieties like McIntosh, Cortland, Gala, and Honeycrisp are already being picked at many of the region’s orchards and should be available at pick-your-own farms this weekend. Call ahead to see what your favorite orchard is picking, or visit New England Apples for a listing of orchards throughout the six-state region.

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Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala has become one of the most widely grown apples in the world since it was introduced from New Zealand in 1934. It has a conical shape and red-orange coloring with yellow striping, and it often turns a deeper color late in the season and in storage. Gala is a sweet, crunchy apple, and juicy. Its flavor has hints of pear. Gala is well suited for both fresh eating and cooking, and it is ready for harvest in many orchards now.

Gala derives its genetic heritage from Cox’s Orange Pippin, an English apple dating back to 1825, and both Red and Golden Delicious. One of its offspring is Jazz, a managed variety introduced in 2000.

Managed, or club, varieties, are now the norm for new apples developed around the world. Growers can only plant these varieties if they are licensed to do so. The goal of managing varieties this way is to maintain quality and limit production, and return more revenue to the people and programs that develop them. While this can prevent a popular apple from being over-planted, it means that consumers may not find certain new varieties in their local orchard.

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HERE’S A RECIPE for Galas or other New England apples adapted from the kitchen of Roy Palmquist. For a healthier version, substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream (try the Greek kind for extra creaminess), or applesauce for all or part of the butter.

Sour Cream Apple Cake

6 T butter

2 eggs

1 c all-purpose flour

1 c whole wheat flour

1/4 t salt

1 c sour cream

3/4 c sugar

1 t vanilla

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

2-3 apples like Gala or Honeycrisp, cored and thinly sliced

Topping

1/2 c walnuts or pecans, chopped

1/3 c sugar

1 t cinnamon

Icing

3/4 c confectioners’ sugar

3/4 t almond extract

milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and sour cream, and mix well. Spoon half the batter into a greased 9”x13” pan.

Layer apple slices on top and sprinkle with half of topping mixture. Repeat the three layers: batter, apples, topping.

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mix together confectioners’ sugar and almond extract. Add just enough milk to make it moist enough to drizzle off a spoon. While cake is still warm, drizzle with icing.

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America's Apple

America’s Apple

IT TAKES GREAT EFFORT and a little luck to bring an apple crop to the crescendo of harvest, but visiting an orchard teeming with apples in September and October is a treat for all of the senses.

Read about how about apples are grown and the challenges growers face as they guide their crop from spring bloom through harvest in America’s Apple, a new book about apple growing in the United States by Russell Steven Powell.

Powell, who has worked in the apple industry for the past 16 years, visited more than 50 orchards across the country gathering information for the book, and interviewed some of the nation’s leading apple researchers.

The hard-cover volume features nearly 50 full-color photographs by Bar Lois Weeks, plus a photographic index of 120 apple varieties grown in the United States.

To learn more, including how to order, visit America’s Apple.

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