Yes, you would think after our adventure of two weeks ago at Mead Orchards in Tivoli (<a href=”http://parentsplace.lohudblogs.com/2007/09/18/apples-for-a-pumpkin/” target=”_blank”>chronicled here</a>) that we would be done with apple-picking for the season. But we went again this past weekend! That’s because the Journal News invited employees for an apple-picking outing at <a href=”http://www.wilkensfarm.com/” target=”_blank”>Wilkens Farm</a> in Yorktown Heights. We all received a half-bushel bag to fill. (Thanks, boss!) We also enjoyed some sugared doughnuts and cider (and had to flee from the very active late-season bees while we were at it).
The good news: We have consumed or given away about three-quarters of the apples we picked on our first outing. Even better news: I found a bunch of great apple recipes that I’ll share. Also: Here are some tips for storing apples that I found in my research:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Don’t wash them before you store them.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The key to preserving apples for storage is choosing to save only perfect apples. If there are any bruises or nicks, put them in the fridge to eat right away.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ After sorting, wrap the apples individually in newspaper to prevent the gas of death (otherwise known as ethylene gas) to spread among the apples. Yes, it’s true: One bad apple can spoil the rest. Also: Don’t use the colored pages of the newspaper for food.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ We put our apples in a big diaper box in our foyer, which is on the ground level and stays much cooler than the rest of the house. We hope that will be a good place to keep them for a while.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ If you haven’t gone picking yet, you’re actually in luck because the late-ripening varieties of apples actually store the best. (That means I’ll just have to go again!)
Once again, Pumpkin was the chief apple picker on our outing. She had a lot of fun. “Me pick apple,” was heard frequently. We met a couple of other families with small children, including a couple from the Bronx who had a month-old baby in a sling happily sleeping as the family gathered apples. Here is a photo of Pumpkin busy with the apple trees:
As lovely as the orchard was, I do have to say that <a href=”http://www.meadorchards.com/” target=”_blank”>Mead</a> probably has the edge if you have a mixed party of tiny tots and older folks. The dwarf trees were easy to reach for people whose height still hasn’t reached 3 feet, and the level lanes were easy to traverse for my mother-in-law, who was recovering from foot surgery. It was definitely hilly and bumpy at Wilkens Farm and took a bit more stamina. Pumpkin, for instance, was saying “Up” by the end of the outing.
Now, for the recipes:
Julie’s Apple Pie
7-8 apples, peeled and sliced
Lemon, halved (to rub on peeled apples to preserve color before slicing Ã¢â‚¬â€ it also adds a brightness to the flavor of the pie)
1 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of the apples)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup roughly chopped crystallized ginger (my secret ingredient!)
Pie crust (Your favorite homemade recipe or Pillsbury)
Pre-heat over to 400 degrees. Combine apples and other ingredients in a big bowl. Place bottom crust in 9-inch pie pan (I like Pyrex), pour in apple mixture, cover with second crust and pinch edges. Cut away a leaf pattern in center to let steam escape. Cover edges either with tin foil or a crust protector. (I cannot emphasize enough what a good investment this is. If you’ve never seen one, <a href=”http://www.thebakersplace.com/mrsanpiecrus.html” target=”_blank”>click on this link</a>.) Bake for one hour or until golden brown and bubbly.
Julie’s Apple and Carrot Soup
2 pounds carrots
2 apples, diced
1 onion, diced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup Arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 32-ounce can chicken broth
2-3 cups water
Salt and white pepper to taste
Heat oils in large soup pot. (I like to use an enamel-covered cast iron Dutch oven from Le Creuset because you never have to worry about your soup or sauce burning on the bottom.) SautÃƒÂ© onion and ginger for about five minutes, until soft and slightly translucent. Add carrots and apples and sautÃƒÂ© for a few minutes more. Add broth, rice, soy sauce and water. Simmer on low heat for about a half hour, until the carrots are very tender. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or a traditional blender. You may need to add more water if the soup is too thick. Enjoy!
Note: I adapted this recipe from a great book titled “<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Saved-Soup-Delicious-Low-Fat-Soups/dp/0688153003″ target=”_blank”>Saved by Soup</a>.” The book gave me the idea for the Arborio rice as a thickener. I added the Asian touches, like the sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce. I also like this soup with a half-cup or so of orange juice in place of the apples.
Pork chops with spiced sweet potatoes and apples
This is a great main course from Bon AppÃƒÂ©tit’s March 1999 issue that I found on Epicurious.com. Here’s a <a href=”http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/100951″ target=”_blank”>link to the original recipe</a>, which I modified slightly.
6 thin-sliced boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yams, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced into rings
2 apples, peeled and thickly sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. SautÃƒÂ© pork chops until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add onion and potato to pan. Reduce heat to medium and sautÃƒÂ© until onion is golden and softening, about 7 minutes. Mix in apple and cinnamon. Place pork chops among the vegetables. Add water. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Watch it closely because the potatoes can get overcooked easily. Salt and pepper to taste.
I’ve made this three times now, including once for dinner guests, and it was a big hit with everyone. (Except my mom, who dislikes sweet with her savory dishes.)
Apple Meat Loaf
OK, you’re thinking, “What?!” That’s what I thought, too, when I saw this recipe from the <a href=”http://www.nyapplecountry.com/recipes.htm” target=”_blank”>New York Apple Association</a>. But, I’m nothing if not adventurous in the kitchen, and decided to give it a try. It was pretty good! Very moist, as you’d except. It was a BIG hit with Pumpkin, who normally isn’t too fond of ground beef. I think it might even be better with a mix of beef and ground lamb and some nutmeg, but I’ll leave that for you to decide. One warning: I was lazy and didn’t chop the apples finely enough and my meatloaf was slightly crumbly. I would recommend giving them a quick turn in the food processor (just don’t make applesauce).
2 cups apples, finely chopped (really, really finely)
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 cups stuffing mix
1 large onion, minced
3 tablespoons horseradish (to be honest, I thought this was too overpowering Ã¢â‚¬â€ I’d use two next time)
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Shape into loaf on greased baking pan. (Don’t go right to the edges because this gives off a fair amount of juice.) Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I served it with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. It was very nice.
And if you need another reason to go pick apples Ã¢â‚¬â€ besides family camaraderie and a feeling of connection to the harvest Ã¢â‚¬â€ food scientists at Cornell University have found that apples can actually <a href=”http://www.news.cornell.edu/Stories/March05/apples.cancer.ssl.html” target=”_blank”>ward off breast cancer</a>. If that’s not a family friendly reason to go apple-picking, I don’t know what is.