McIntosh, Sweet Tango, Autumn Gold, Glockenapfel, York Imperial…No, these are not the names of English hound dogs, these are only five of the hundreds of different varieties of apples being planted and grown all over the world. You have probably only seen about ten of such varieties in grocery stores, but there are literally hundreds of varieties, all with a different purpose. Some are better for baking, some are better for juicing, some for cider, some for salads, some for drying, and some for just plain eating, with peanut butter of course, but we won’t dive into the crunchy versus smooth debate right now. Let’s talk apples.
As you may have noticed at local farmer’s markets or by tasting the apples in your Friends & Farms basket, different varieties of apples are harvested at various times throughout the fall. Apple tree growers plant several varieties of early blooming apple trees, then a few more of later blooming varieties so that the trees can pollinate and apples are harvested throughout the fall. Apples are picked by the bushel, which weighs approximately 45 pounds. With that many apples, you could bake 15 apple pies, or make 18 quarts of canned applesauce, but who has time for that? Bushels are typically only bought for wholesale. If you do want to make several pies, buy a peck, which is about 10 pounds of apples. This will make about four good-sized pies.
Speaking of pies, when you are baking a pie, you want an apple that has a good sweet and tart balance. Too much of one flavor can overtake the pie. Look for Cortlands, Empire, Granny Smiths or McIntoshs. Cut those apples into wedges, mix with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, then bake them in the most delicious crust you can make. See our recipe blog
for a few good pie crust recipes.
Apples are not only used for pies. When we think apples, we also think: pork, pork, pork! Apples are a pig’s best friend and when roasted together with a little wine, winter squash, and nutmeg, the flavors marry beautifully. You can impress a crowd with that simple recipe. Apples mix well in chicken salad or in a coleslaw. You can even make an apple coleslaw just by thinly slicing apples and mixing with 2 parts mayo, 1 part apple cider vinegar, and 1 part milk. Add a little salt and pepper and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. Serve with a hot and tangy pork barbeque and your socks will blow off your feet…or at least your taste buds will be singing.
Berries in salads can be overly sweet, but apples offer the best balance between sweet and tart, often acting as a good partner to cheese and vinegar. Slice a Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn or Pink Lady, lay on top of mixed greens and shave some Parmigiano Reggiano, feta or blue cheese. Add some caramelized walnuts or almonds and dress with a light vinaigrette. It is the perfect fall lunch.
As a last note from your Friends here at F&F, take care of your apples by knowing their variety and storing them accordingly. Thin-skinned apples that typically have sweet, tender flesh will not keep as long as thicker-skinned varieties with a more tart flesh. Keep all of your apples in a dark, cool area. If you are lucky enough to have a root cellar, these make perfect storage areas for apples, right next to your 79’ Bordeaux. More likely what you do have is a fridge and apples will do just fine in your fruit drawer at a high humidity, low temperature setting.
Keep your eye out for all the apple varieties that Friends & Farms will be including in its baskets this fall and winter. We will be offering recipes and ideas so don’t worry if all those name varietals are a little confusing. F&F is always here to help you make the best food, in addition to filling your fridge with the freshest ingredients.