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Posts Tagged ‘Macoun apple’

Dowse Orchards

A hawk surveys the apple crop at Dowse Orchards in Sherborn, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

FEW APPLES ARE AS EAGERLY ANTICIPATED every fall as Macoun, and apple lovers will be happy to know that they are now available at most New England orchards.

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Macoun apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

While they are good for most culinary uses, Macouns are highly sought-after as a fresh-eating apple. Their sweet-tart flavor evokes McIntosh (which is one of Macoun’s parents). But Macoun has a harder, crisper flesh than the Mac, and its complex flavor hints of strawberry and spices. Macouns have a striated green and red color similar to a Cortland, and a sometimes angular, almost boxy shape, further distinguishing it from McIntosh.

Macouns do not keep as well as some varieties, another reason they are coveted in the fall. Macouns flourish in New England; on a recent day we received queries from Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania inquiring where Macouns could be found, and in our booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition (the “Big E”), the Macouns supplied by Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville, Massachusetts, were snapped up quickly. We hope to replenish them before the end of the fair.

McIntosh supplies much of Macoun’s flavor and bouquet. Jersey Black, Macoun’s other parent, is an American heirloom once known as Black Apple due to its dark color, contributing to Macoun’s wine-red tones and irregular shape.

Macoun was developed in 1909 by Richard Wellington at Cornell University’s New York Agricultural Experiment Station, and released commercially in 1923. It was named for Canadian pomologist W. T. Macoun. Macoun, by the way, is pronounced as if spelled “MacCowan,” although some people insist on saying “MacCoon.” Any way you say or slice it, Macoun is a delicious apple, and this is the peak season to bite into one.

If you bring home too many to eat fresh, or simply want to explore Macouns’ flavors in cooking, here’s a recipe we’ve adapted from Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, Massachusetts, originally attributed to Kitty Patterson.

We have visited a number of New England orchards this fall, and many have exceptional crops. But none are more lush than the one at Tougas Family Farm (if you get to the Big E this weekend, we may still have some of Tougas Family Farm’s Galas on hand). But wherever you go to pick or purchase your apples, this is the ideal time to visit your local orchard to sample the season’s bounty.

Apple Crisp Pie

1 9-inch pie crust

4-5 Macoun or other New England apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

3/4 c plus 2-3 T sugar

¾ c flour

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t salt

3 T brown sugar

1/2 c butter at room temperature

Toss apples with the 2-3 T sugar. Place into uncooked pie shell, rounding up on center. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl, mixing until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Sprinkle over top of apples. Bake 15 minutes at 425°F. Reduce heat to 350° for 30 minutes more until crunchy and brown.

***

FOR MORE INFORMATION about New England’s apple varieties and orchards, visit our website at  www.newenglandapples.org.

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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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