Posts Tagged ‘Honeycrisp apple’

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


1/2 c walnuts or pecans, chopped

1/3 c sugar

1 t cinnamon


3/4 c confectioners’ sugar

3/4 t almond extract


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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New England apples (Russell Steven Powell photo)

(Russell Steven Powell photo)

New England apples (Russell Steven Powell photo)

(Russell Steven Powell photo)

THERE IS STILL TIME to make a big splash on Valentine’s Day Tuesday. If you are looking for a gift made memorable by your personal touch, try baking your sweetie this rare apple treat rather than reaching for the ubiquitous, ho-hum box of chocolates.

Like chocolate, Valentine’s Day Apple Cheesecake is decadent and sweet, but with a few healthy touches like the apples, pecans in the crust and topping, and the option of no- or low-fat cream cheese and sour cream.

But it’s really less about the ingredients and more about the thoughtfulness — and the effort — that makes this a uniquely special gift. As for the apples, there are plenty of good New England McIntosh available, or Cortland, or Empire, or any combination of them.

Valentine’s Day Apple Cheesecake

Serves 12

New England apples (Russell Steven Powell photo)

(Russell Steven Powell photo)


2 c graham cracker crumbs

2 T sugar

2 T finely chopped pecans

1 t cinnamon

1/2 c butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine crumbs, sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Reserve 1/8 cup for garnish. Press remaining in a greased 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool.


4  8-oz packages cream cheese, softened (fat-free is fine)

3/4 c sugar

3 eggs, beaten

2 t vanilla

2 T cornstarch

1 c sour cream (fat-free is fine)

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and cornstarch just until blended. Stir in sour cream. Pour into crust.

Honeycrisp apples (Russell Steven Powell photo)

(Russell Steven Powell photo)


2-1/2 c New England apples, peeled and chopped

3/4 c cherry, beet, or cranberry juice

1/4 c sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

2 T chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine apples and juice. Stir the apples gently and allow them to absorb for at least 15 minutes. Drain excess juice. Mix in sugar and cinnamon; spoon over filling.

Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool 10 minutes; then run a knife around inside of pan to loosen. Sprinkle with pecans. Chill overnight before serving. Refrigerate leftover cheesecake.


HOW SHOULD YOU STORE your apples once they are home? Keep them cold! Watch this short video for suggestions about how to keep your apples crisp and fresh.

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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


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.

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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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Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

CORTLAND AND HONEYCRISP are two of the more popular apple varieties in New England, albeit for different reasons. The all-purpose Cortland has been a New England staple for more than a century. Honeycrisp is the region’s rising star—it has only been available commercially for the past 20 years.

Cortlands are moderately juicy, with a sweet-tart flavor that is slightly less tangy than a McIntosh. A deep, purple-red apple with yellow streaks, its white flesh browns slowly when sliced, making Cortlands ideal for salads or served with cheese. Cortlands hold their shape well when cooked, making them a good choice for pies.

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Cortland apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

A cross between McIntosh and Ben Davis, Cortlands were developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, in 1898.

Honeycrisp can range in color from all red to green with red striping. Their flesh is cream-colored, crisp, and very juicy. Honeycrisp have a sweet, slightly tart flavor. They are excellent for fresh eating.

Honeycrisp originally was thought to be a cross between Macoun and Honeygold, but DNA testing has since disproved this; its parentage is Keepsake crossed with an unnamed seedling. The original seedling was planted in 1961 at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, but they were not introduced commercially until 1991.

Try Cortland or Honeycrisp in the following recipe, singly or together.

Apple Pie Pops

2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1 t lemon juice

¼ c sugar

1 t apple pie spice

dash salt

1 T cornstarch

2 T water

1 unbaked pie crust

10 wooden lollipop sticks

1 egg, separated

2 t water

2 T sugar

½ t apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium skillet, cook apples mixed with ¼ c sugar, 1 t apple pie spice, lemon juice and salt, over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until apples are nearly tender, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 2 T water. Add slowly to apple mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens.

Roll pie crust into 12-inch circles. Cut into 3-inch rounds with cookie cutter. Press lollipop sticks firmly into center of each round. Spoon a scant tablespoon of filling into each center. You will have filling left over.

In a small bowl, whisk egg white with 1 t water until frothy. Use pastry brush or fingers to brush mixture around edges of each round of dough.

Place a second round on top. Seal edges.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk with 1 t water. Brush on top of each “pie.”

In a small bowl, mix 2 T sugar and ½ t apple pie spice and sprinkle over top half of pies.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.


NEW APPLE RECIPES have just been published by Woman’s Day online at www.womansday.com/Articles/Food/Recipes/5-Amazing-Baked-Apple-Desserts.html.


JUDGING BY THE FRUIT showcased at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”), this is shaping up as an exceptional year for apple quality. We’ve featured apples from across the state at our booth in the Massachusetts State Building, and they have been outstanding in appearance and flavor. Atkins Farms (Amherst), Breezelands Orchards (Warren), Carlson Orchards (Harvard), Cold Spring Orchard (Belchertown), Hamilton Orchards (New Salem), Nestrovich Fruit Farm (Granville), Pine Hill Orchards (Colrain), and Red Apple Farm (Phillipston) have all supplied beautiful, flavorful apples to the fair.

The varieties have included Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Golden Supreme, Honeycrisp, Macoun, McIntosh, Red Gravenstein, Rhode Island Greening, Snow, and Suncrisp.

The Big E will continue through this Sunday, October 3.


IF YOU WANT TO PICK your own apples this fall, go soon. There will be plenty of apples to buy at your farmstand and in grocery stores throughout the fall and winter, but the crop will be picked sooner than normal due to the unusually hot spring and summer.

In a typical year, the New England harvest lasts through October, but this year in many places the apples will be all picked by mid-month. It will be best to visit your favorite orchard by Columbus Day Weekend if you want to be sure that there is still fruit to pick.

As always, call ahead to find out what varieties are available.

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ALTHOUGH APPLES HAVE BEEN PICKED for the past few weeks, the official kickoff of the 2010 New England Fresh Apple Harvest will be celebrated this Friday, September 10, at several orchards and the region’s largest packing house.

Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture Scott Soares and members of his senior staff, together with Russell Powell, executive director of the New England Apple Association, will be among the people visiting these apple orchards and apple processing facilities:

  • 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., J. P. Sullivan and Company, packing house, 50 Barnum Road, Ayer
  • 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Carlson Orchards, with cider-making, 115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard
  • 1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Red Apple Farm, 455 Highland Avenue, Phillipston

Friday is expected to be a beautiful day in New England’s orchards, with an early taste of fall: sunny, with temperatures in the 60s.

Saturday also should be ideal for picking apples, with sun and temperatures in the 70s, and while there may be some unsettled weather in parts of the region Sunday, either weekend day should be fine for getting out to visit your favorite orchard or farmstand.

Beginning 5 p.m. Friday and through the weekend, the New England Apple Association and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) will sample apples and hand out its 2010 brochure/poster, New England Apples, at a booth at the Sterling Fair.

The fair will be open Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Bring a sweater, learn about New England’s apple varieties and take home a brochure. It has photographs and descriptions of 15 favorite varieties on one side, and storage tips, health information, a usage chart and recipes on the other side.

If you are back from the orchard, Saturday’s fair hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.sterlingfair.org.

Powell and Mary Jordan, the DAR’s director of agricultural development, will give a presentation about several New England apple varieties Sunday morning at 11, including McIntosh, Royal Cortland, Gala, Honeycrisp, Rambo and Snow.

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala is a sweet, crunchy and juicy apple, with red-orange skin and yellow stripes. Slightly conical in shape, it is well suited for snacking, salads and baking.

Galas were developed in New Zealand and introduced in the United States in 1934. Its genetic heritage comprises Cox’s Orange Pippin and both Red and Golden Delicious.

Honeycrisp is a relatively new star on the New England scene, esteemed for its exceptional juiciness and crunch. It has a bright red skin, often with patches of pale green. The inner flesh is cream-colored. The Honeycrisp is a sweet apple but retains a slightly tart flavor. It is excellent for salads or for eating as a snack.

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Honeycrisp was produced from a cross of Keepsake and an unnamed seedling. The original seedling was planted in 1961 at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center. They were introduced commercially in 1991.

Snow (also known as Fameuse) is red with pink highlights. It gets its name from its snow-white flesh, which has occasional crimson stains. A crisp, juicy apple with a slight strawberry flavor, the Snow hails from Canada around 1730.

Snow apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Snow apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Snows are one of the oldest and most desirable dessert apples, a parent of the aromatic McIntosh. They are delicious fresh or in cooking, and are a good cider apple.

To learn more about New England’s apple varieties, visit www.newenglandapples.org and click on “Apple varieties.”

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