Apple of My Eye
Apple-picking is in my blood. Admittedly, my family doesn’t have that strong of an agricultural background. But as a native upstate New Yorker, I’ve always been surrounded by autumn apples. I went to elementary school with two different girls whose families ran orchards. While many people only know the few types they see in the grocery store, I’ve always been conversant in a number of varieties beyond the typical Red Delicious, including Empire, Jazz, and Jonagold. As a result, apple-picking is a seasonal family ritual.
This year, I’ve actually gone picking twice. About a month ago, Chris and I visited the local pick-your-own everything place where we picked strawberries last year and typically get our Christmas tree. Maryland isn’t as well-suited for apples as New York, so farms grow fewer varieties. Unfortunately, that meant the only variety available was Yellow Delicious. I’m not usually a big fan of the “Delicious” type of apples, but these were pretty good. While I was conscientious about picking only from the Yellow Delicious trees, other people weren’t nearly as careful. There were signs everywhere not to pick the apples from the other variety, yet I still heard people say, “Oh, these look ready. We’ll pick them.” It really bothers me when people blatantly ignore other people’s expertise, especially a group as frequently unacknowledged as small farmers.
Then, over Columbus Day weekend, I visited home and went apple picking with my extended family. Since we’ve moved to D.C., Chris and I have returned home every Columbus Day weekend. Our families get along very well and live near each other, so we’ve always done something “fall-themed” together. The last two years, we’ve visited a fabulous farm that has pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and an awesome giant bouncy pillow. Unfortunately, as my sister-in-law only half-jokingly said that she would rather sit in the parking lot and drink than do the corn maze again, that plan was out. (She really hates the corn maze.) Of course, the alternative plan was the other grand fall activity – picking apples. This orchard, due to both its size and geography, had a larger variety and quantity of apples than the one in Maryland. We had the opportunity to try a number of different types of apples, especially the more obscure varieties, before picking them. Despite the opportunity to “try before you buy,” we still ended up with 30 pounds of apples! My parents kept a number of them, but we came home with another dozen apples to join the bag that remained in the fridge.
While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, eating an apple a day isn’t enough to use up all the ones we have. So we’ve turned to recipes that use a lot of apples at one time. We already tried baking the slightly doomed apple tartin, and have made apple chutney twice. Chutney was one of my favorite sandwich spreads when I lived in the U.K. and is perfect for combining with cheese for a great sandwich.
I Have Too Many Apples! Chutney
10 apples – peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 medium onion
1/2 red pepper
2-3 dashes of cinnamon
1 tbs Madras curry powder
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbs (splash) of apple cider or sherry vinegar
3 cups of sugar
1) Finely dice onion and pepper. Saute.
2) Add apples, cinnamon, curry powder, and raisins, stir and continue to saute.
3) Turn stove to low. After about 5 minutes, add the vinegar. Continue to cook down until the apple becomes very soft, which should be about 10 minutes in total.
4) Add sugar, stir, and bring the mixture to a boil.
5) When it comes to a boil, turn it off and cool.
Do you go apple picking in the fall? What’s your favorite apple dish?