CSA UPDATE

 

2017 Season CSA Fruit Share

Variety Information: 

 Week of September 18: 
HoneyCrisp apples and Cortland apples

Week of September 11: 
Gala apples, Bartlett Pears, Cortland apples and Nectarines.

Week of September 5: 
Gala apples, Honeycrisp apples, Nectarines and “Sugar Giant” White Peaches.

 

Week of August 27:  

ginger_gold   Ginger Gold is a modern variety, developed in the 1960’s. It is likely a cross from Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin. It was discovered as a wild cross by a farmer in Virginia. Ginger Gold’s have good flavor for an early apple and this year’s crop is light — so the apples produced are large in size.  Perfect for cooking — or eating fresh and sharing with a friend!  

GravensteinApple   Gravenstein is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, but tart flavor. It is usually good for baking and cooking but this year, the apples are small, so perfect for snacking. It’s one of our first apples to ripen in the season. Gravenstein is suspected to be an old European variety brought to the U.S. in the 19th Century. It was popular out west and there is even a Gravenstein Highway in Sonoma County California where orchards abounded in the 19th Century.   Nowadays, though, most of the acreage along the Gravenstein Highway is planted in grapes and hosts some of the most prestigious Sonoma area wineries.  No wonder we don’t hear of apples from California!

Somerset Grapes.  Our favorite!  Sweet, small, seedless Somerset grapes.  A modern grape variety introduced in 2002 in Wisconsin.  Hardy for northern climates and disease resistant.  These grapes ripen early in the season and their flavor is described as strawberry-like.   We have 4 rows and they are here only for a week or two, so enjoy!

 

Week of August 20: 

ginger_gold   Ginger Gold is a modern variety, developed in the 1960’s. It is likely a cross from Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin. It was discovered as a wild cross by a farmer in Virginia. Ginger Gold’s have good flavor for an early apple and this year’s crop is light — so the apples produced are large in size.  Perfect for cooking — or eating fresh and sharing with a friend!  

Starfire Peach:  So happy to have peaches this year as there were no native peaches to be found in Massachusetts in 2016.  Our trees are young and this is our first crop of the new varieties planted in 2012.  This week’s it’s Starfire — a medium-large, scarlet orange-red over yellow ground color, yellow fleshed, freestone peach originally developed by a nursery in Michigan.  There will be more peaches coming on in early September …!

Somerset Grapes.  Our favorite!  Sweet, small, seedless Somerset grapes.  A modern grape variety introduced in 2002 in Wisconsin.  Hardy for northern climates and disease resistant.  These grapes ripen early in the season and their flavor is described as strawberry-like.   We have 4 rows and they are here only for a week or two, so enjoy!

 

 

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2015 Season CSA Share descriptions:  

(Note: share contents may occasionally vary due to daily changes in inventory, but here’s what we are generally planning to deliver.)

 

Week of October 12:  Spencer and Golden Delicious

Spencer is a wonderful eating apple and just about the prettiest apple around. They are a cross between Red Delicious and MacIntosh and are really the best of both.  Developed in British Columbia in the 1950’s, they are relatively hard to find in N.E.  Our Spencers won the “Grand Plate” prize at Topsfield Fair in 2013.  The apple exhibit is really a beauty contest versus a taste test, as judging is based on appearance, trueness to type, color, etc.

photo by Kara Glinnen

 

Golden Delicious images

is the second heaviest grown variety in the U.S. The Golden Delicious was popularized by Stark Brothers who started to market it as a companion for their Red Delicious in 1914.  Despite the similar names, the Red and Golden delicious are not closely related in terms of parentage.  Our Golden Delicious have a lovely pink “blush” which gives them an added allure to our “pick your own” visitors.

Store your apples in the refrigerator. (I store them in the vegetable crisper with a lightly dampened paper towel.)  Apples left out in a fruit bowl will lose their snap and turn mealy, but apples stored in a chilled environment will retain their “just picked” characteristics.

 

Week of October 5:  Macoun and Rhode Island Greening

Macoun

macoun

apples are a mix between McIntosh and Jersey Black varieties. Skin is a dark red with a purplish flush; sweet taste with a hint of berry; flesh is juicy, snow white.

Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, by R. Wellington. Named after Canadian fruit grower W.T. Macoun, they were first introduced in 1923, and have almost always been regarded as one of the finest apples in the Northeast.

Macouns are also very popular at roadside stands and pick-your-own farms. Availability is only through November at the latest, as they are not good keeping apples.   Good for lunchboxes and snacks.

 

pom00003035-copyIdentified around 1650 (!) the Rhode Island Greening was long considered the finest cooking variety for over 200 years.  Around 1900, it was the second most important commercial variety in the country, after Baldwin. It is supposed to have originated as a chance seedling outside a tavern in the town of Green’s End, near Newport, RI.  This variety was originally referred to as the “apple from Green’s End, Rhode Island” by travelers who stayed at the inn and spread its fame around colonial New England.  It is crisp, juicy and quite tart, making it an excellent winter keeper and one of the best cooking apples available.

 

Week of September 28:  Macintosh and Cortland – Pie week!  

   cortland    Cortland – After the many attributes of McIntosh were discovered, plant breeders began crossing it with other varieties to enhance its traits. One of the earliest was the Cortland, combined with the Ben Davis variety. Its flavor is sweet compared to McIntosh, and it has a flush of crimson against a pale yellow background sprinkled with short, dark red stripes and gray-green dots. Cortland has very white flesh and is an excellent cooking apple developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, USA in 1898. The apple was named after nearby Cortland County, New York.

 

Week of September 21st:  Honeycrisp, Macintosh and Concord Grapes.

Honeycrisp is a variety developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station’s Horticultural Research Center.   Patented in 1988, the Honeycrisp has rapidly become a prized commercial commodity.  Known for its sweet and juicy flavor, Honeycrisp has much larger cells than most apples, which account for the juicy flavor burst.  Honeycrisp boasts a relatively long shelf life when stored in cool, dry conditions.

Bull_Grapes   Concord Grapes are a cultivar derived from the grape species

Vitis labrusca (a.k.a. fox grape).  The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts. Bull planted seeds from wild Vitis labrusca and evaluated thousands of seedlings before finding what he considered the perfect grape.   The original vine still grows in Concord – right on Main Street – with a plaque to mark the location!

Your grapes were picked the day prior to delivery and are fresh and very aromatic. We have about an acre of Concord grapes planted on a steep hillside.  Concord grapes have large seeds so do be careful if you can’t resist popping a few on your ride home.

New Englanders have traditionally made grape pies and tarts, or grape jams and jellies, but for starters you might just like to try them straight up to experience their distinctive, foxy flavor.

 

 

Week of September 14th:  MacIntosh, Cox’ Orange Pippin and Gala

mcintoshEvery McIntosh apple is descended from a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, Ontario.  An emigré from New York’s Mohawk Valley, McIntosh happened upon several wild apple seedlings growing in the woods on his newly acquired land in Canada. He transplanted some trees to his garden, and by the following year only one had survived with the tree producing the crisp, delicious fruit that everyone is familiar with.  For years, he had no luck propagating the variety because apples don’t grow true from seed until his son, Allen, learned from a visitor the art of grafting cuttings or scions from the original tree. With this cloning technique at their disposal, production of the McIntosh Red could finally branch out (sorry about the pun!).

The original tree that spawned this legacy was damaged by fire in 1894. The McIntosh family nursed the old tree along until 1908 — the last year it produced a crop — and in 1910, it fell over. A headstone now marks the spot where the tree stood for so many years.

coxoo   Cox’ Orange Pippin originated in England in the 19th century as a chance seedling and and possess a rich and complex flavor.  Cox’ Orange Pippin are known to be difficult to grow — especially in North America.  We ignored the literature and went ahead and planted  with surprisingly good results!  Our COPs have a loyal following with many people calling and inquiring by email when they’ll be ready.  They are considered by Europeans as the ultimate “dessert” apple, one you would eat out of hand vs. using in a recipe or crushing for cider.  Enjoy our locally grown COPs — as they are hard to find this side of the Atlantic!

gala-apples  The Gala is related to Golden Delicious and this apple originated in New Zealand. The Gala apple blends modern and old-fashioned parentage. It is aromatic with a very sweet flavor and crisp and firm texture. Some varieties have Cox’s Orange Pippin, a wonderful old-fashioned English favorite, and both Red and Golden Delicious in its family tree. It ripens early and keeps well.

Galas are a perfect lunchbox apple.   Because apples are picked ripe, they should be stored in a cool location to retain the sweetness and crispness.  Store your apple in the refrigerator and you’ll find they’ll retain their flavor and texture.

 

Week of September 7th: Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Gravenstein and Bartlett Pears

The Bartlett Pear we know today in the U.S. is the same variety that is called the “Williams” in other parts of the world. Discovered  in England, by a schoolmaster named Stair, it was later acquired by Mr. Williams who propagated the variety and introduced it throughout England.

22099_bartlett_wholeandhalfIn 1799, Williams pear trees were planted in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Later, Enoch Bartlett of Dorchester acquired the land and not knowing the identity of the trees, he propagated the variety and distributed it under his own name. It was not until 1828, when new trees arrived from Europe, it was discovered that Bartlett and Williams pears were one and the same. By then it was too late and the variety had become widely popular in the U.S. under its adopted name.

 

Week of August 31: Gravenstein and Ginger Gold 

GravensteinApple   Gravenstein is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, but tart flavor. It is especially good for baking and cooking. It’s one of our first apples to ripen in the season. Gravenstein is suspected to be an old European variety brought to the U.S. in the 19th Century. It was popular out west and there is even a Gravenstein Highway in Sonoma County California where orchards abounded in the 19th Century.   Nowadays, though, most of the acreage along the Gravenstein Highway is planted in grapes and hosts some of the most prestigious Sonoma area wineries.  No wonder we don’t hear of apples from California!

and Ginger Gold

 

Week of August 24th: Ginger Gold, Paula Red, Somerset Grapes and Italian Plums 

ginger_gold   Ginger Gold is a modern variety, developed in the 1960’s. It is likely a cross from Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin. It was discovered as a wild cross by a farmer in Virginia. Ginger Gold’s have good flavor for an early apple.

Paula Red   Paula Red was also developed in the 1960’s. This apple has some of the characteristics of a Macintosh without the complexity. Paula Reds are juicy and mild — great for eating until the Macs come in later in September. We keep them in the refrigerator and eat them cold. Very refreshing on a hot afternoon in late August!

Somerset Grapes.  Our favorite!  Sweet, small, seedless Somerset grapes.  A modern grape variety introduced in 2002 in Wisconsin.  Hardy for northern climates and disease resistant.  These grapes ripen early in the season and their flavor is described as strawberry-like.   We have 4 rows and they are here only for a week or two, so enjoy!

11   Italian plums are a staple at Autumn Hills.  We included a preview this week — and there will be more to come.  Italian plums make great jam and there’s always the New York Times Plum Torte recipe that bakes up quickly in a springform pan.

Plum torte    Easy and delicious.

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2014 Season CSA share descriptions.  (Note: share contents may occasionally vary due to daily changes in inventory, but here’s what we are generally planning to deliver.)

 

October 16:  Lunchbox apples!  Empire and Gala.  

Empire is a modern variety

empire

introduced in 1966.  It has a striking, deep red skin and is a “best of both” cross between a McIntosh and Red Delicious.  Empire has a juicy, firm white flesh that doe not easily bruise. It is considered a high-quality dessert apple.  Their small to medium size, heartiness and balanced flavor make Empire a GREAT lunchbox apple!

gala-apples   The Gala is related to Golden Delicious and this apple originated in New Zealand. The Gala apple blends modern and old-fashioned parentage. It is aromatic with a very sweet flavor and crisp and firm texture. Some varieties have Cox’s Orange Pippin, a wonderful old-fashioned English favorite, and both Red and Golden Delicious in its family tree. It ripens early and keeps well.

Galas are a perfect lunchbox apple.   Because apples are picked ripe, they should be stored in a cool location to retain the sweetness and crispness.  Store your apple in the refrigerator and you’ll find they’ll retain their flavor and texture.

 

October 14:  Golden Delicious and Spencer.  

Golden Delicious images

is the second heaviest grown variety in the U.S. The Golden Delicious was popularized by Stark Brothers who started to market it as a companion for their Red Delicious in 1914.  Our Golden Delicious have a lovely pink “blush” which gives them an added allure to our “pick your own” visitors.

Store your apples in the refrigerator. (I store them in the vegetable crisper with a lightly dampened paper towel.)  Apples left out in a fruit bowl will lose their snap and turn mealy, but apples stored in a chilled environment will retain their “just picked” characteristics.

Spencer

8952730

It’s easy to see that Spencers are related to the Delicious family as Spencers are large, with an oblong shape. They also have soft, tender flesh; with a lot of sweetness.  Spencers were developed in 1926 at the British Columbia Experimental Station in Summerland, and released to the market in 1959.

At Autumn Hills, we like the Spencers so much, we cut scions a few years ago from our 100 trees and have planted an additional 100 trees from the cuttings.

The Spencers at Autumn Hills glow pink in the late afternoon sulight on the western side of the ridge.  Their spots also make them very recognizable – and reveal their McIntosh heritage.  Spencers are one of our favorite varieties at Autumn Hills as they are among the most beautiful of apples – with the added bonus of LOTS of flavor.

October 9th – 11th 

Some swings in our picking schedules produced a change in this week’s share for those picking up later in the week.  The shares contained Mutsu and Macoun — still a green and red combination — similar to the RI Greening and Empire in contrasts — but offering different varieties.

Mutsu

is a variety that was developed in Japan in the 1930s.  It’s a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo and was named for a region in northern Japan.  They are also called “Crispin” in American markets.   Mutsus have a sweet, creamy flavor.  Because of their large size, they are GREAT for recipes – just two or three Mutsu’s will make a nice crisp or cobbler.

Mutsus are more prone to some diseases than some other varieties, so their complexion can vary from year to year depending on the growing conditions.

Their size, green-golden color and pink “blush” make a most attractive apple – and one worth exploring if you’re not familiar with Mutsu.

Macoun

macoun

apples are a mix between McIntosh and Jersey Black varieties. Skin is a dark red with a purplish flush; sweet taste with a hint of berry; flesh is juicy, snow white.

Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, by R. Wellington. Named after Canadian fruit grower W.T. Macoun, they were first introduced in 1923, and have almost always been regarded as one of the finest cooking apples in the Northeast.

Macouns are also very popular at roadside stands and pick-your-own farms. Availability is only through November at the latest, as they are not good keeping apples.   Good for lunchboxes and snacks.

 

October 6th-8th: RI Greenings and Empire 

Identified around 1650 (!) the Rhode Island Greening  RI Greening

pom00003035-copy

was long considered the finest cooking variety for over 200 years.  Around 1900, it was the second most important commercial variety in the country, after Baldwin. It is supposed to have originated as a chance seedling outside a tavern in the town of Green’s End, near Newport, RI.  This variety was originally referred to as the “apple from Green’s End, Rhode Island” by travelers who stayed at the inn and spread its fame around colonial New England.  It is crisp, juicy and quite tart, making it an excellent winter keeper and one of the best cooking apples available.

Empire is a modern variety

empire

introduced in 1966.  It has a striking, deep red skin and is a “best of both” cross between a McIntosh and Red Delicious.  Empire has a juicy, firm white flesh that doe not easily bruise. It is considered a high-quality dessert apple.  Their small to medium size, heartiness and balanced flavor make Empire a GREAT lunchbox apple!

 

Week of September 29th: Eating and Cooking apples: Macoun and Cortlands (or Kendalls) 

macoun-grass   Macoun apples are a mix between McIntosh and Jersey Black varieties. Skin is a dark red with a purplish flush; sweet taste with a hint of berry; flesh is juicy, snow white.  Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, by R. Wellington.  Named after Canadian fruit grower W.T. Macoun, they were first introduced in 1923, and have almost always been regarded as one of the finest apples in the Northeast. Macouns are also very popular at roadside stands and pick-your-own farms. Availability is only through November at the latest, as they are not good keeping apples.

   cortland    Cortland – After the many attributes of McIntosh were discovered, plant breeders began crossing it with other varieties to enhance its traits. One of the earliest was the Cortland, combined with the Ben Davis variety. Its flavor is sweet compared to McIntosh, and it has a flush of crimson against a pale yellow background sprinkled with short, dark red stripes and gray-green dots. Cortland has very white flesh and is an excellent cooking apple developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, USA in 1898. The apple was named after nearby Cortland County, New York.

Some CSA shares included Kendall apples this week. They are large, like a Cortland, red and sweet — like a Macoun.  If you are wondering whether you received Kendall or Cortland, shoot us a photo image and we can answer the question for you.

The Kendall apple is a cross between the Zusoff and McIntosh. It was raised in 1912 by R. Wellington and introduced in 1932.  We weren’t sure when we came to the orchard what this variety was, but it was recently identified by an older Connecticut farmer farmer who visited us.   We’ve not seen Kendall’s in the markets but there seem to be a few orchards that list them online.   Kendalls are described as larger than Macs with later blooming and ripening qualities.  (That’s why we were tipped off that they weren’t macs!)

Apple varieties can be confusing at times as there are more than 5,000 documented varieties of apples, so it’s understandable that there can be varieties that have fallen out of fashion over the years and are thus less well known than they used to be in the past.

Recipe: Baked apples

We like to use Cortlands for baking because of their size.  Here’s a quick primer on how to bake an apple:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the top half of your apple(s). Using a corer, take out the stem end and the inner core, but try to leave the blossom end of the apple intact. No worries if you core all the way down…it’s bound to happen. Stuff the cavity with your filling. Maybe walnuts, brown sugar and some softened butter; or butter, granola, maple syrup and raisins. Just a tablespoon or two does the trick. Put your apple in an oven proof dish, pour about 1/2″ of water in the dish and bake until bubbly, about 30-40 minutes. You might want to baste the sides of your apple a few times with the accumulated juices to keep it moist in the last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm.

 

Week of September 22nd: Gala, McIntosh, Concord Grapes

gala-apples   The Gala is related to Golden Delicious and this apple originated in New Zealand. The Gala apple blends modern and old-fashioned parentage. It is aromatic with a very sweet flavor and crisp and firm texture. Some varieties have Cox’s Orange Pippin, a wonderful old-fashioned English favorite, and both Red and Golden Delicious in its family tree. It ripens early and keeps well.

Galas are a perfect lunchbox apple.   Because apples are picked ripe, they should be stored in a cool location to retain the sweetness and crispness.  Store your apple in the refrigerator and you’ll find they’ll retain their flavor and texture.

Bull_Grapes   Concord Grapes are a cultivar derived from the grape species

Vitis labrusca (a.k.a. fox grape).  The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts. Bull planted seeds from wild Vitis labrusca and evaluated thousands of seedlings before finding what he considered the perfect grape.   The original vine still grows in Concord – right on Main Street – with a plaque to mark the location!

Your grapes were picked the day prior to delivery and are fresh and very aromatic. We have about an acre of Concord grapes planted on a steep hillside.  Concord grapes have large seeds so do be careful if you can’t resist popping a few on your ride home.

New Englanders have traditionally made grape pies and tarts, or grape jams and jellies, but for starters you might just like to try them straight up to experience their distinctive, foxy flavor.

 

Week of September 16th:  McIntosh apples, Bartlett pears and Italian Plums

The McIntosh Red cultivar has red and green skin, a tart flavor, and tender white flesh and is traditionally the most popular cultivar in New England.

mcintoshEvery McIntosh apple is descended from a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, Ontario.  An emigré from New York’s Mohawk Valley, McIntosh happened upon several wild apple seedlings growing in the woods on his newly acquired land in Canada. He transplanted some trees to his garden, and by the following year only one had survived with the tree producing the crisp, delicious fruit that everyone is familiar with.  For years, he had no luck propagating the variety because apples don’t grow true from seed until his son, Allen, learned from a visitor the art of grafting cuttings or scions from the original tree. With this cloning technique at their disposal, production of the McIntosh Red could finally branch out (sorry about the pun!).

The original tree that spawned this legacy was damaged by fire in 1894. The McIntosh family nursed the old tree along until 1908 — the last year it produced a crop — and in 1910, it fell over. A headstone now marks the spot where the tree stood for so many years.

Pears ripen OFF the tree.  Let them ripen until the area near the stem yields to slight pressure and the color turns a golden yellow.  The August drought has resulted in our pears being smaller than usual, but the flavor will be intense.

The Bartlett Pear we know today in the U.S. is the same variety that is called the “Williams” in other parts of the world. Discovered  in England, by a schoolmaster named Stair, it was later acquired by Mr. Williams who propagated the variety and introduced it throughout England.

22099_bartlett_wholeandhalfIn 1799, Williams pear trees were planted in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Later, Enoch Bartlett of Dorchester acquired the land and not knowing the identity of the trees, he propagated the variety and distributed it under his own name. It was not until 1828, when new trees arrived from Europe, it was discovered that Bartlett and Williams pears were one and the same. By then it was too late and the variety had become widely popular in the U.S. under its adopted name.

The Italian prune plum has purple skin with yellow-greenish flesh that turns red wine color when cooked. They also carry a pale “bloom” which develops as they mature on the tree.  The fruit has a rich flavor and is very sweet when fully ripe.

These little plums are great in a tart, or used for jam.  We’ve included a recipe for the classic Plum Torte published for years in the NY Times.  This recipe is easy using just a few ingredients.  This torte is great out of the oven or the next morning with coffee!

So… save your plums for the torte recipe – that is, if you can resist snacking on them during your ride home!

 

Week of September 9th: Gravenstein apples, Bartlett pears plus a bonus

Our Gravenstein apples are a favorite at the farmers markets.  Serve them with cheese or cook them down for apple sauce. They are flavorful and aromatic!

22099_bartlett_wholeandhalf   Bartlett pears are called William pears in Europe.  Pears ripen off the tree so they will be hard when packed in your share.  They will turn a light yellow color as they ripen and soften.  We like to eat them when the tops near the stem start to soften to the touch.  That’s the bestclue that they are juicy and at their peak.

We shared a small cluster of Somerset grapes with you this year.  The birds got to them this year before we did, so we apologize for the small offering but we thought you might like to try these seedless grapes.  Hopefully, we’ll have Concord grapes for the CSA share holders later in the month…. keep your fingers crossed.  Usually the birds don’t bother with them too much.   We’re not sure if it’s the seeds, the skins or the musky flavor, but

11   Italian plums are a staple at Autumn Hills.  We included apreview this week — and there will be more to come.  Italian plums make great jam and there’s always the New York Times Plum Torte recipe that bakes up quickly in a springform pan.

Plum torte    Easy and delicious.

 

Week of September 2nd:  Early apples and peaches.  

More Ginger Golds and Paula Reds this week and a bonus of peaches!  Our peach trees are very old and we have so few we haven’t taken the time to learn the different varieties of the old trees.  It’s easier to just pick them and eat them!  Last spring we planted about 100 new peach trees but they won’t bring a real crop for another year or two.  We planted apricots and pluots, too.  Pluots are a new, hybrid fruit that has gotten a lot of press in the past few years.  Can’t wait to try them but in the meantime, enjoy the old peaches!

 

Week of August 25th:  Early apples: Ginger Gold, Paula Red and Gravenstein

ginger_gold   Ginger Gold is a modern variety, developed in the 1960’s. It is likely a cross from Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin. It was discovered as a wild cross by a farmer in Virginia. Ginger Plum torteGold’s have good flavor for an early apple.

Paula Red   Paula Red was also developed in the 1960’s. This apple has some of the characteristics of a Macintosh without the complexity. Paula Reds are juicy and mild — great for eating until the Macs come in later in September. We keep them in the refrigerator and eat them cold. Very refreshing on a hot afternoon in late August!

GravensteinApple   Gravenstein is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, but tart flavor. It is especially good for baking and cooking. It’s one of our first apples to ripen in the season. Gravenstein is suspected to be an old European variety brought to the U.S. in the 19th Century. It was popular out west and there is even a Gravenstein Highway in Sonoma County California where orchards abounded in the 19th Century.   Nowadays, though, most of the acreage along the Gravenstein Highway is planted in grapes and hosts some of the most prestigious Sonoma area wineries.  No wonder we don’t hear of apples from California!

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2013 Season 

Week of October 22nd: Suncrisp®, RI Greenings, Empire

Another packet of eating and baking apples!   No mistaking which are the Suncrisps in your tote.  Suncrisp is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Cox Orange Pippin.  It was developed by the New Jersey Apple Breeding Program at Rutgers and is rated very highly by taste panels. The fruit color is golden with an orange blush. Suncrisps are stunning when you come upon them in the orchard with their deep yellow background color and bright orange blush. SunCrisp is a registered trademark of Rutgers University and we actually paid a royalty to plant the trees.

Identified around 1650 (!) the Rhode Island Greening was long considered the finest cooking variety for over 200 years.  Around 1900, it was the second most important commercial variety in the country, after Baldwin. It is supposed to have originated as a chance seedling outside a tavern in the town of Green’s End, near Newport, RI.  This variety was originally referred to as the “apple from Green’s End, Rhode Island” by travelers who stayed at the inn and spread its fame around colonial New England.  It is crisp, juicy and quite tart, making it an excellent winter keeper and one of the best cooking apples available.

 

Week of October 15th:  Bosc Pears, Northern Spy, Empire

Pears ripen off the tree so the Boscs will be crunchy if you eat them now.  You might want to leave one or two out in a bowl until the tops get a little soft just near the stem.  They will be ripe and juicy then! We also like to roast pears alongside potatoes in their jackets. Then we scoop out the potato and mash the potato and pear together.  Try it as an accompaniment to poultry or pork!

Northern Spy is an old variety and this is the first time we’ve shared this variety with CSA subscribers!  It’s primarily a New England variety but has fallen out of favor in the last 50 years or so.  Northern Spy can take up to a decade to bear fruit while other varieties will bear in 4-5 years.  We finally have a small crop we can share with our CSA customers.  They are a great, all-purpose apple though big enough to use in pies and crisps.

 

Week of October 7th:  Spencer, Empire, Kendall 

All apples this week — and a very nice selection!  Spencer is a wonderful eating apple and just about the prettiest apple around. They are a cross between Red Delicious and MacIntosh and are really the best of both.  Developed in British Columbia in the 1950’s, they are relatively hard to find in N.E.  Our Spencers won the “Grand Plate” prize at Topsfield Fair this year.  The apple exhibit is really a beauty contest versus a taste test, as judging is based on appearance, trueness to type, color, etc.

photo by Kara Glinnen

Empire is another mid-century variety developed by the NY State Agricultural Station in 1966.  They also are a cross between Red Delicious and MacIntosh — with very different results from Spencer!  Empires are an ideal lunchbox apple. They are smaller and firm — so they pack and travel well.  Empires are easy to identify by their roundness and deep color.

Kendall is another uncommon variety, and is a cross between the Zusoff and McIntosh.  It was developed in 1912 and introduced in 1932.  We weren’t sure when we came to the orchard what this variety was, but it was recently identified by an older Connecticut apple farmer who visited us.    Apple varieties can be confusing at times as there are more than 5,000 documented varieties of apples, so it’s understandable that there can be varieties that were not well known or that have, in recent years, fallen out of fashion.

 

Week of September 30th:  Macoun, Cox’ Orange Pippin, HoneyCrisp and Concord Grapes

It’s been a good year for our HoneyCrisp planting so CSA fruit share members are sharing in the bonanza again this week!   Some apple varieties gain flavor  with a few weeks in storage, so it would be interesting to hear from members if you think HoneyCrisp is one of these varieties.   We’ll be doing our testing as well!

Macoun is a sought after variety grown in New England.  A mix between McIntosh and Jersey Black, the skin is a dark red with a purplish flush and the flavor is sweet with a hint of berry; flesh is juicy, snow white. Macoun was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, by R. Wellington.

macoun

Named after Canadian fruit grower W.T. Macoun, they were first introduced in 1923.  Availability is only through November at the latest, as they are not good “keeping apples. ” We were interested to read recently that Mr. Macoun pronounced his name “macowan” which answered the question for us how to pronounce the name of this particular variety.

Cox’ Orange Pippin originated in England in the 19th century as a chance seedling and and possess a rich and complex flavor.  Cox’ Orange Pippin are known to be difficult to grow — especially in North America.  We ignored the literature and went ahead and planted  with surprisingly good results!  Our COPs have a loyal following with many people calling and inquiring by email when they’ll be ready.  They are considered by Europeans as the ultimate “dessert” apple, one you would eat out of hand vs. using in a recipe or crushing for cider.  Enjoy our locally grown COPs — as they are hard to find this side of the Atlantic!

Concord Grapes are a cultivar derived from the grape species vitis labrusca (a.k.a. fox grape). The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts.  Bull planted seeds from wild Vitis labrusca and evaluated thousands of seedlings before finding what he considered the perfect grape. The original vine still grows in Concord – right on Main Street – with a plaque to mark the location!   These grapes have seeds and tough skins but flavor and aroma more than make up for it!

 

Week of September 24th: Baker’s Kit! Cortland and a few MacIntosh
This week’s share is aimed at bakers. Big Red Corts that make for quick peeling to put in pies, crisps, cobblers, crumbles, buckles, etc. Luckily the weather has cooperated as well so it’s cool enough to bake at home. The classic New England recipe for apple pie filling called for Cortlands with a MacIntosh or two added for extra flavor notes. Of course if you don’t have time to bake a pie, you can make a crisp or crumble which requires less prep time and can use ingredients you probably have on hand. If you are really strapped for time, then consider simply baking an apple. It’s quick and easy, and you can vary the flavors that go into the core cavity with ingredients such as maple syrup, nuts, granola, or simply brown sugar and butter.

Baked Apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the top half of your apple(s). Using a corer, take out the stem end and the inner core, but try to leave the blossom end of the apple intact. No worries if you core all the way down…it’s bound to happen. Stuff the cavity with your filling. Maybe walnuts, brown sugar and some softened butter; or butter, granola and raisins. Just a tablespoon or two does the trick. Put your apple in an oven proof dish, pour about 1/2″ of water in the dish and bake until bubbly, about 30-40 minutes. You might want to baste the sides of your apple a few times with the accumulated juices to keep it moist in the last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm.

More recipes:

Basic Apple Pie

French Apple Tart

Week of September 16th: MacIntosh, Pears, Gala, Plums and HoneyCrisp
It’s a plum palooza this week with a pint of plums for CSA members, plus HoneyCrisp, Gala and now MacIntosh — a traditional New England favorite.   Every McIntosh apple is descended from a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, Ontario.  An emigré from New York’s Mohawk Valley, McIntosh happened upon several wild apple seedlings growing in the woods on his newly acquired land in Canada.  He transplanted some trees to his garden, and by the following year only one had survived with the tree producing the crisp, delicious fruit that everyone is familiar with.  For years, he had no luck propagating the variety because apples don’t grow true from seed until his son, Allen, learned from a visitor the art of grafting cuttings or scions from the original tree. With this cloning technique at their disposal, production of the McIntosh Red could finally branch out (sorry about the pun!).

The original tree that spawned this legacy was damaged by fire in 1894. The McIntosh family nursed the old tree along until 1908 — the last year it produced a crop — and in 1910, it fell over. A headstone now marks the spot where the tree stood for so many years.

HoneyCrisp is a popular “new” variety produced in 1960 from a cross of Macoun and Honeygold as part of the University of Minnesota apple breeding program. The original seedling was planted in 1962 at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center and the resulting fruit is creamy, flavorful and juicy!

 

Week of September 9th: Bartlett Pears, Gala, Gravenstein, Prune Plums
Pears ripen off the tree, so they are picked hard. Best to leave them out in a cool place. They will turn color from green to light yellow. When the top near the stem gives a bit, it’s ready for eating. We like Bartlett pears for dessert with some blue cheese and maybe even a glass of port.

The Gala is related to Golden Delicious and this apple originated in New Zealand. The Gala apple blends modern and old-fashioned parentage. It is aromatic with a very sweet flavor and crisp and firm texture. Some varieties have Cox’s Orange Pippin, a wonderful old-fashioned English favorite, and both Red and Golden Delicious in its family tree. It ripens early and keeps well. Galas are a perfect lunchbox apple. Because apples are picked ripe, they should be stored in a cool location to retain the sweetness and crispness. Store your apples in the refrigerator and you’ll find they’ll retain their flavor and texture.

 

Week of September 2nd: Apples: Ginger Gold, Paula Red, Gravenstein; Prune Plums
More early apples with Gravenstein added to the mix. The Gravenstein apple is considered by many to be one of the best all-around apples with a sweet, tart flavor. It is especially good for baking and cooking. It’s one of our first apples to ripen in the season but it’s not a great “keeper” so it’s available only for a few weeks.

Prune plums are a special treat. We have a few trees that bear fruit in early September. They are an American variety called “Stanley.” The remaining prune plums bear in mid-September. We always look forward to plums for eating, baking and for jam. Our favorite easy dessert is a plum torte. This recipe was published in the New York Times annually for many years by food writer and critic Marian Burros. It’s a simple biscuit-like batter, spooned into a spring form pan. The plums are halved and placed atop the batter.  The batter rises around the plums and the plums bake down into lovely jammy puddles.  The recipe could not be easier and can be executed in 10 minutes with about 45 minutes for baking. If you’ve not tried this recipe, we recommend it.

 

Week of August 26th: Apples: Ginger Gold and Paula Red; Peaches; Somerset Grapes
Ginger Gold is a modern variety, developed in the 1960’s. It is likely a cross from Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin. It was discovered as a wild cross by a farmer in Virginia. Ginger Gold’s have good flavor for an early apple.

Paula Red was also developed in the 1960’s. This apple has some of the characteristics of a Macintosh without the complexity. Paula Reds are juicy and mild — great for eating until the Macs come in later in September.

This is our first harvest of seedless Somerset grapes. We love the color, flavor and texture! Great for eating or for jam/jelly.

Our peach trees are old and precede our arrival at the farm. Thus we do not know the varieties that are planted. I suppose we could study up on them, but when peach season comes around, we prefer to eat them versus classifying them. We’ve planted some more peaches this year and will be sure to map and record the varieties so we know what kinds of peaches we like best in the future.