October 11, 2007
Enjoy apple season from orchard to plate
Pick your own apples, make your own pie
By Lisa Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
Every so often, apple grower Erick Leadbeater has to police apple pickers who consider apples the perfect size for a baseball.
“I have to frequently say to middle-sized people, who are not being watched by their parents, that we do not throw our food here, don’t throw the apples,” said Leadbeater, owner of Gould Hill Orchard in Hopkinton. “If you throw an apple at someone and it hits a tree, it will hit about ten apples and some will fall.”
In Concord, apple grower Diane Souther finds it frustrating when apple pickers do their own picking without checking to see which apples are ripe.
“I sent a couple out today and they come back and say, ‘Oh, we found some Macouns.’ Well, they’re going to find out they don’t taste that good right now,” said Diane Souther, who owns Apple Hill Farm on Mountain Road. “That is the biggest fight we have ... it is very hard to convince the consumer that they have to wait until they are ready. That is why Wal-mart is open 24 hours a day, for people who can’t wait.”
After 26 years of growing apples and running an orchard, Linda Weiser is the portrait of patience when asked daily during apple-picking season, “How do you pick apples?”
“Hold the apple gently, pull up toward the sky and when you do that, most of the time, you are pulling it in the opposite direction of growth and the apple snaps off the branch,” said Weiser, owner of Hackleboro Orchards in Canterbury. “The stem stays with the apple ... and your apple will last longer because the stem is on it.”
Autumn has arrived in New Hampshire, there’s a crispness to the air and color on the trees, and lunch boxes are filling with apples. Farm stands that offer pick-your-own apples are buzzing with activity, both during the week with school groups and on weekends with apple-lovers and families. The season is short, and local growers know there’s only so much time to get back their sweat equity.
“We are facing tremendous competition from overseas; the apple is globalized and China is now the biggest apple producer in the world,” said Steve Taylor, New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture. “For the New Hampshire apple crop, the money is in marketing directly to nearby consumers.”
According to Taylor, 80 percent of the money made in apples in New Hampshire is from local sales. Because the picking season is short, and because growers realize their market is their neighbors, most PYO places offer a bit more than just an apple-picking experience.
At Gould Hill in Hopkinton, if you pick four bags of apples of a given size, you get a fifth bag free.
At Meadow Ledge Farm in Loudon, apple- pickers can indulge in apple ice cream and enjoy fresh baked apple cider donuts on weekends. In Pittsfield, at Appleview Orchard there’s a bouncy house for kids and grilled hot dogs for those who work up a hunger. On Carter Hill in Concord, at Carter Hill Orchards, there’s a huge old-fashioned rope tire swing for kids, along with a sandy play area full of pedal cars.
“You can bring your visiting doggy on a leash — we are getting known for that here,” said Linda Weiser of Hackleboro Orchard. “Don’t forget your camera [and] comfortable walking shoes, and bring a sweatshirt with a hoodie, because a lot of times it’s colder here than anywhere else.”
Sine the 1700s apples have grown along Gould Hill in Hopkinton.
“We are the second family to own the farm; the Goulds settled Gould Hill in 1760 and ever since 1764 there have been apples on Gould Hill,” Leadbeater said.
Today there still are, but fewer.
“A decade ago we were operating 128 acres, but the wholesale market, which was pretty good until the early to mid-nineties, [changed and] by the time the apples go off to a broker and are packed your return is minimal,” Leadbeater said. Tucked among his 30 acres of apples you’ll find 86 different varieties, from the McIntosh, which is considered a New England favorite, to the Cox Orange Pippin, sweet, juicy and considered one of the finest dessert apples in Britain.
The apple that gets the most attention outside of New Hampshire is the McIntosh.
“You can’t find it anywhere else in the world. This is the right climate for growing an old-time favorite,” said Diane Souther, of Apple Hill Farm. “They’re great for applesauce, eating and cooking.”
According to Commissioner Taylor, the McIntosh is a favorite apple in the British Isles, which makes it the primary apple exported from New England.
Apple growers have focused their attention on growing a variety of apples for consumers who have become more sophisticated in their tastes.
“You get your apple snobs out there ... they want the uncommon ones like the Hudson Golden Gem or the Esopus Spitzenberg, which is a French cooking apple with one of the highest vitamin C contents of any apples we have,” Souther said.
In New Hampshire, there are nearly 100 different varieties of apples, and, like most fruits, each variety has its own growing time. Not every apple on an apple tree is ripe, even if it’s red.
“It’s like any plant — it takes a certain number of days before they mature,” Souther said. “When the starches change to sugars it reaches its sweetness and full flavor.”
Souther does a starch test on all her varieties before giving the green light to go pick. Some apple varieties are ready now; others will stagger in throughout the month of October. By the time Thanksgiving or the first frost rolls around, the picking is over.
“We have the early varieties, like the Puritan and the Polly Reds and the Macs, that are in now,” Weiser said. “I let people pick and pick and pick until Mother Nature says it’s done, usually around Halloween.”
Some of the first apples of the season are August Sweet, Early Red Bird, and Gravensteins, which all appear in August. Cortland, McIntosh and Gala arrive in early September. Baldwin, Braeburn and Red Delicious show up in October.
Not every variety of apple is suitable for the pick-your-own crowd, so most orchards offer them already picked. Often the apples that are designated as PYO are the ones that are most popular and sturdier. Most growers don’t mind if the pickers do a little tasting.
“How can you tell a good apple? By putting your teeth in it,” Leadbeater said. “This is what sets us farm stands apart from supermarkets — you can go to any place in the area and they will let you do a taste test, but if you go to a Stop & Shop or whatever, if you start biting into apples there, the produce manager will have something to say about it.”
The other advantage of traveling to orchards is the chance to pick up fresh baked goods and recipes.
“I push the apple crisp,” said Linda Weiser. “Oh God, it is so damn good.”
Weiser has locals who do all the baking for Hackelboro Orchards; other apple growers do their own baking.
From now until Thanksgiving, Diane Souther at Apple Hill says she expects about 4,000 visitors to the farm, including students on class trips. When she’s not supervising tours, she’s baking. A lot. On a given week, Souther will bake between 75 and 250 apple pies. By the time the season is over, she expects, she’ll bake more than 5,000 pies.
Pick your own
• Apple Acres, 52 Searles Road, Windham, 893-8596. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PYO apples. Hayrides on weekends when you PYO.
• Apple Hill Farm, 580 Mountain Road, Rt. 132, Concord, 224-8862, www.applehillfarmnh.com. Open daily through Thanksgiving from 8:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m. PYO apples, jams and jellies, fresh baked pies (including an assortment made with sugar substitute), cider, fall vegetables and pumpkin picking. Gift shop, hayrides and picnic areas.
• Apple View Orchard, 1266 Upper City Road, Pittsfield, 435-6483, www.applevieworchard.com. Open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. PYO apples, 10 varieties. Gift shop features N.H. products, gift baskets, ice cream, homemade apple crisp, hot dogs and soda. Special activities on weekends for families include hayrides, petting area and bounce house.
• Brookedale Fruit Farm, 38 Broad Street (Rt. 130), Hollis, 465-2240. Open daily 9 a.m to 5 p.m. PYO apples, pumpkins. Ice cream available on weekends.
• Carter Hill Orchard, Carter Hill Road, Concord, 225-2625. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PYO apples. Gift store with cider and NH-made products. Pumpkins and other fall items. Children’s play area, rope tire swing and viewing tower. Tractor rides on weekends.
• Currier Orchards, 9 Peaslee Road, Merrimack, 881-8864. Open daily 10 a.m to 5 p.m., weekends, 9 a.m.to 6 p.m. PYO apples. Farm stand has freshly pressed cider, pumpkins, gourds. Play area for children. “We might be offering a wagon ride at some point, all we need is a horse — we have the cart, before the horse,” said owner Eber Currier.
• Elwood Orchards 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry, 434-6017. Open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PYO apples. Hayrides, corn maze, squash, pumpkins and preserves.
• Gould Hill Orchards, 656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, 746-3811, www.gouldhill.com. Open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PYO apples, pumpkins. A 200-year-old family-owned and -operated farm, growing more than 85 varieties of apples. Farm stand and gift store feature N.H.- made gifts including fresh sweet cider, maple syrup and jams and jellies. Farm museum. Spectacular hilltop location with views stretching 75 miles from south-central N.H. to the White Mountains.
• Hackleboro Orchards, Hackleboro Road, Canterbury, 783-4248, www.hackleboroorchards.com. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Directions: From I-93: Take Exit 18, turn left at bottom of off ramp. Follow signs to Canterbury Center. At the Canterbury Country Store, turn left onto Hackleboro Road. PYO apples. Cider, pies, pumpkins, jams, jellies and NH made gifts. Scenic picnic area, mail order, weekend tractor rides, farm animals. View deck. Visiting dogs on leashes welcome.
• Lavoie’s Farm, 172 Nartoff Road, Hollis, 882-0072. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PYO apples and pumpkins. Corn maze.
• Mack’s Apples of Moosehill Orchard, 230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 432-3456 or 434-7619, macksapples.com. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PYO apples, 20+ varieties. Trails, farm pond with geese and ducks to feed. Activities on weekends.
• Mapadot Orchard, Rt. 13, New Boston, 487-5521. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PYO on weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pumpkins, cider and fall vegetables.
• McLeod Brothers Orchard, N. River Road, Milford, 673-3544. Call for hours. Closed Tuesdays. PYO apples.Pumpkins and other fall items.
• Meadow Ledge Farm, 612 Route 129, Loudon, 798-5860. Open daily 9 a.m to 6 p.m. PYO apples, more than 30 varieties. Fresh pressed cider demonstrations. Pumpkins and other fall items. Wagon rides on weekends and freshly made cider donuts.
• Oliver Merrill and Sons, 569 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 622-6636. Farm stand is open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. self-service. PYO only on weekends 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PYO apples, several varieties. Farm stand has fruit and fall vegetables.
• Sunnycrest Farm Londonderry 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-9652. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PYO apples. Cider, cheese, preserves, pumpkins and more fall items.
Chuck’s Favorite Apple Crisp
Recipe from Diane Souther, Apple Hill Farm, Concord
Peel, core and slice 8 med. apples (mix McIntosh and Cortland)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 to 2 tsp. cinnamon
butter (3/4 to 1 stick) softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut apples, make sure to eat a couple of slices while you’re preparing, and place in 9x9” casserole dish, (or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate). Sprinkle granulated sugar over apples and lightly stir in.
Mix flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and butter together and spread over apples.Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Even better warmed up the second day.
My grandmother’s apple cake
Recipe from Lisa Brown
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups diced apples
Heat oven to 350.
Cream together sugar and butter, add egg, vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Add nuts and apples and mix. Bake in 9x12” greased pan 45 minutes at 350. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.
Recipes from:Linda Robinson, mixologist at the Boston Bartending School, 142 Main Street, Nashua, N.H.
Washington Apple Martini
1 1/2 ounce Crown Royal
2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounces apple juice
Put in a shaker with a scoop of ice. Shake briskly, pour into martini glass. Garnish with a slice of red apple. (Some people use apple Schnapps instead of apple juice).
Sugar the rim
2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce apple liqueur
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
Place spirits in shaker with a scoop of ice. Shake briskly. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of green apple.
Sour Apple Shot
3/4 ounce Southern Comfort
1/4 ounce sour apple liqueur
A capful of Paul Newman’s lemonade (already made) or a squeeze of lemon
Pour into shaker, add ice and shake. Strain into a shot glass.
Apple Pie Shot
1/4 ounce Amaretto
1/4 ounce cinnamon schnapps
1/4 Irish Mist
Put in shaker with ice. Shake briskly and strain into a shot glass.
10/04/2007 Tradition on the menu
9/27/2007 Meet your pig
9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki — a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats
All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other label
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew
Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie
Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days
Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat
Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat
Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)
The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch