Monday, December 15, 2008

Joy of Apples

Braeburn and GoldRush
I am very fortunate to live in the midst of Pennsylvania's "Fruit Belt". In fact, on my daily drive to and from work for the past year I have watched the beautiful progress of apples, peaches and cherries from the first blush of color in the spring, when the buds begin to swell, through the all-out extravagance of the blossoms into the heavy abundance of the ripening fruit. Even this time of year, empty of leaves, the trees form interesting shapes on the hillsides.

The apples were good this year. We started with a few Gingergolds in August, then Honey Crisp in September. The Jonagolds, from Toigo Orchards, came in October, and were spectacular. Tart with a sweet follow-up, and crisp, I bought bushels to dry for later use*. I also made gallons of applesauce.

*To dry- I used the peeler-corer-slicer for uniformity. I saved the peels and cores in the freezer, and will make apple jam out of it.

When the Jonagolds were gone, I tried Braeburns, good, but not as marvelous as the Jonagolds.

My new favorite, Goldrush- a Yellow Delicious variety, tart, crisp and an excellent keeper, came in November. Toigo is the only place I know that carries them around here. A trip to St. Louis over Thanksgiving gave us an opportunity to buy some Arkansas Blacks- a very late heirloom variety. And finally, Granny Smiths and Romes were a gift from my friends at the Lady Apple Orchard. I had never seen a Granny Smith with a red blush; Jon Lady said that's because they are usually picked green. He left them on until they were riper. They certainly were good, and his explanation may be why I have never cared for Granny Smiths. They are always too tart for me. I like a tart apple, but I want some sweetness.

From top, clockwise- Goldrush, Rome, Arkansas Black, Granny Smith.

I like to use more than one variety of apple in applesauce- it gives it a more complex flavor. I also like the applesauce very chunky. I chop the unpeeled apples coarsely until my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup is full. Then I add about 1/4 cup sugar and some cinnamon, and put them into the microwave at 50% power for 20 minutes, covered. When it comes out of the microwave, I mash a little bit, and if it is too firm, put it back in for another 5 minutes at full power.

For information about the health benefits of apples, go here

It appears that an apple a day really might keep the Doctor away!

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