Tag Archives: Heirloom apples

Wild Organic Apples of Vermont (and New Hampshire too)

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We’ve been making forays into Vermont’s pastoral countryside and have been thrilled to find wild “organic” apple trees growing along many a roadside.

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We spied this huge, lone apple tree on our way to Walden Heights Nursery, Vermont growers of heirloom apples and other unusual orchard fruits. We noticed nary a blemish on the deep red fruit polished to a high shine by wind-whipped leaves.

In less than four miles from our home we have collected a sampling of very edible fruit in colors ranging from red to green to yellow or a mix of all three.  The most beautiful apple we have found so far is a tiny and fawn-colored with a lipstick-pink blush.

Wild and wonderful

A selection of wild apples gathered not far from our home in Newbury, Vermont.

In the past before we sampled apples from the wild, we would wipe off fly speck, tiny black dots – and no, the dots do not arise from flies but are the result of fungal disease especially prevalent in Vermont’s apple orchards as our summers and falls become more humid and wet.

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We found two abandoned orchards with trees still producing fruit on Cobble Hill within the lands of The White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.

Most orchards spray fungicide multiple times to prevent things like fly speck and sooty blotch – but we don’t have to worry about eating chemicals with our wild finds in hand and we don’t even bother to wipe off the spots and dots, instead biting into the apples to determine if they are tart, sweet, spicy, or too sour to eat.

One of the tastiest apples we have discovered so far is in a meadow adjoining ours.  The apples are gnarly from the pecks and bites of piercing, sucking insects but all they need is a trim around the insect-damaged flesh and they are a delight to eat.  We wonder if they are possibly an heirloom apple variety as they have many attributes for home use – the flesh is sweet, tart – firm but juicy.  They are yellow overlaid with crimson stripes and were ripe some weeks ago.

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The apples we dubbed “the meadow apple” looked rough but had exceptional flavor and were added to a succession of excellent dishes — a harvest stew of rabbit, a veal stew reminiscent of my Great Grandmother Booth’s French Casserole of Veal, and a fragrant, spicy venison chile.

The “meadow” apples have held up well in cooking and have found their way into a rabbit stew made rich by the addition of butter, good olive oil, a cider reduction we made and put up last year, lots of vermouth, good white wine, carrots and tomatoes picked from our garden and roasted before being added to the stew. There was an ample amount of the excellent fragrant sauce left over from the rabbit and it was reincarnated as a base for a veal stew.

The organically-grown veal came from Winsome Farm in Haverhill, NH just across the Connecticut River from our Newbury, VT home. The tender bits of newly-harvested meat were caramelized in a super hot oven and were added to the sauce as were more “meadow” apples, our own heirloom tomatoes and slowly sauteed onions, little red potatoes from one of our favorite local farms, Peaked Moon in Piermont, NH, and as more liquid was needed to keep everything moist the last half of a bottle of red wine.

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This abandoned orchard in The White Mountain National Forest will provide food for wildlife and a taste of the wild for those lucky enough to find apples in season.

As the stew was put to a simmer and the aroma filled our home, I wondered what else I could cook with wild apples and rummaged about in the freezer pulling to the front items of goodness needing to be cooked before the freezer put the burn to them.  A goodly-sized package marked “stew” put a smile on my face as I silently thanked our friend Tom Kuralt who generously shared venison he had taken during a hunt last year.  After thawing the rich, wild meat it was browned, like the veal, in a hot, hot oven then added to a base of homegrown tomatoes, onions, lovage, peppers, and garlic with the addition of carrots from Newbury’s own 4 Corners Farm and cut up chunks of wild apple.  Cumin and dried chiles from Oaxaca — Pasilla and Chilcosle — added heat and hints of clove, anise, cinnamon and smoke.  Homemade corn tortillas completed the meal!

All of this yumminess has us giving thanks to the early settlers of Vermont and New Hampshire – the apple trees they planted years ago produced a mixed blessing of progeny to inherit the wild.

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Pick Your Own Pleasure, Culture

 

 

Heirloom apples and Vermont artisan cheese are a match made in heaven.

Heirloom apples and Vermont artisan cheese are a match made in heaven.

Poverty Lane Orchards and Alyson's Orchard in New Hampshire and Champlain Orchards  in Vermont offer a good selection of heirloom apples.

Poverty Lane Orchards and Alyson’s Orchard in New Hampshire and Champlain Orchards in Vermont offer a good selection of heirloom apples.

Please ask Jane Booth for permission to reproduce her copyrighted photographs and/or writing. Email jane.booth.1@gmail.com or call (802) 866-3329.   Jane has spent a good part of her career photographing and writing about gardens and small farms for Gardens IllustratedYankee MagazineCountry LivingCountry Living GardensBetter Homes & GardensOld House Journal’s New Old House, among others and Cape Cod  Home where she produced an ongoing column and feature stories.

David Tansey founded The Landmark Trust USA in 1991.   He is the past president of The Landmark Trust USA and The Scott Farm and was involved in every step of revitalizing Landmark Trust USA and Scott Farm properties.

 

 

Heirloom Apple Pie

Heirloom apple pie and Vermont cheddar cheese, a perfect pair.

Heirloom apple pie and Vermont cheddar cheese, a perfect pairing.

It’s lunch time and poor us, all we have to eat is a fresh-baked apple pie filled with the last of the apples gleaned in the fall — Bramley’s Seedling, England’s favorite baking apple originating in the early 1800s;  Northern Spy a 1800s seedling from New York; and one of my favorite baking apples – Rhode Island Greening, a colonial apple from about 1650 discovered in Green’s End, Newport where a Mr. Green ran a tavern.  The farm’s  cooler has been turned off since December, yet these old timey apples are still firm and have held up wonderfully in long months of storage.

Bramley's Seedling, England's favorite heritage baking apple

Bramley’s Seedling, England’s favorite heritage baking apple

My husband, David Tansey, loves making pie and because he is such a good pie crust maker I have stayed away from the task until now.  I begged him for his recipe at breakfast and parcel it together but ask him to roll out the dough as it seems too wet (he knew it was just fine).

Northern Spy, a beautiful American heirloom apple perfect for a pie.

Northern Spy, a beautiful American heirloom apple perfect for a pie.

When my mentor left for work, I forged ahead with the filling making things up as I went along.  In the refrigerator I found the balance of a small bottle of iced cider from the Monteregie region of Quebec and used it to moisten peeled apple slices letting them mull around in the sweet scent of concentrated fermented cider while I fiddled with the dough.  Just before topping the pie I realize I haven’t added any flour or sugar to the mix of apples and sprinkle a tablespoon of each over the mound of slices.  Simple.

Calville Blanc d'Hiver, the classic French baking apple has a crown shaped base.  It is my absolute favorite for baking in a classic tarte tatin.

Calville Blanc d’Hiver, the classic French baking apple has a crown shaped base. It is my absolute favorite when baking a tarte tatin.

The pie, much to my delight, is a success.  My husband admires the way it looks it from the time he arrives home for lunch.  Admires it more when he tucks into a slice.  And says all things yummy when I suggest he try a bite with a piece of Grafton’s clothbound cheddar attached to his forkful of apples and crust.  We are both beaming.  The cheese adds a sharp tangy crumbly bite cutting into the sweet sureness of apple, flavors melding into a taste sensation.  We try the same effect again with a creamy cheddar from Shelburne Farms, not as sharp but just as nice with the pie.  Tasting the clothbound cheddar again I tell David the cave-aged mushroom mustiness would be an excellent foil to the carmalized sweetness of a tarte tatin made with Calville Blanc d’Hiver, a fine French cooking apple dating to 1598.  We vow to do just so when the new crop of apples are ready for harvest.

So many heirloom apples to pick from - indeed what variety to put in the pie.

So many heirloom apples to pick from – indeed what variety to put in the pie.

Please ask Jane Booth for permission to reproduce her copyrighted photographs and/or writing. Email jane.booth.1@gmail.com.  Jane has spent a good part of her career photographing and writing about gardens and small farms for Gardens Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Country Living, Country Living Gardens, Better Homes & Gardens, New Old House Journal, and Cape Cod Home where she produced an ongoing column and feature stories.

David Tansey is the founder of The Landmark Trust USA and past president of Landmark and The Scott Farm.  He was involved in every step of revitalizing Landmark Trust USA and Scott Farm properties and loves using heirloom apples when he bakes a pie.

 

Autumn’s Heirlooms

Adventurous in my walking, I studied the growing wood near my home.  Not far from the cliff above Muddy Creek, I found an old cellar hole, nearby a settled pairing of scraggly lilac and apple tree.  A bit further on along the road running east and west of Crow’s Pond in North Chatham near Eastward Ho! I found a number of old timers with out-of reach apples, fruit miniaturized from lack of care.

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Heirloom apples are enjoying a resurgence!  Nantucket Historical Association’s Kathrina Pearl is designing an apple orchard of antique varieties–Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, Sops of Wine, and a French baking apple from the 1500s, Calville Blanc d’Hiver.  If the deer don’t get them she is looking forward to the day when they can ofter fresh squeezed cider and heirloom apple pies. Debbie and Eric Magnuson of Tiasquin Orchard in West Tisbury sell Macouns, McIntosh, and Liberty apples at Edgartown’s Morning Glory Farm.

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Bibliography – Heirloom Apples Our Favorite Books

Here are some of the titles we return to again and again to refresh our memories on fruits tart and sweet when we are lacking fruits to eat.

We are very careful with two collectible and historic guides to apples:

The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America; the culture, propagation, and management, in the garden and orchard, of fruit trees generally; with descriptions of all the finest varieties of fruit, native and foreign, cultivated in this country by A.J. Downing and corresponding member of the Royal Botanic Society of London; and of the horticultural societies of Berlin; the Low Countries; Massachusetts; Pennsylvania; Indiana; Cincinati, etc. – now that’s a mouthful!

The Apples of New York, Volumes I and II, S.A. Beach assisted by N.O. Booth and O.M. Taylor, Report of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station for the Year 1903.

More contemporary books are noted below.

Our two favorite sources are listed first.

The New Book of Apples by Joan Morgan, Alison Richards, and Elisabeth Dowle.  Their publisher, Ebury Press, calls it “the definitive guide to apples, including over 2,000 varieties.

When we can’t find what we are looking for in The New Book of Apples, we grab

Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory edited by Kent Whealy and published by Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, Iowa.  We have the third edition published in 2001 and know we need to upgrade soon.

Old Southern Apples by Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr.  The revised and expanded edition is published by Chelsea Green.

Also by Chelsea Green, Michael Phillips The Apple Grower, A Guide for the Organic Orchardist.  We do not own a second book by Phillips, The Holistic Orchard:  Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way, but imagine it is just as good as the first.

A cute little book with great drawings and descriptions of heirloom apples is by Roger Yepsen and simply titled Apples. W.W. Norton & Company published this book in 1994 but it is still a treasure.

A new book on our desk is The Illustrated World Encyclopedia of Apples:  A comprehensive guide to over 400 varieties accompanied by 60 scrumptious recipes by Andrew Mikolajski and published by Lorenz books.

Apple of Your Pie:  A Collection of Apple Pie Recipes and the History of Apple Growing in America by Eileen Maher Kronauer and Charles Kronauer.  We found a copy of this interesting book of apples at a sweet little restaurant called Ariana’s in Orford, New Hampshire.

The Apple Source Book; particular uses for diverse apples by Sue Clifford and Angela King with Philippa Davenport, Common Ground

Another fun Common Ground book – Apple Games and Customs.

Orchards written by Claire Masset is great little book – we hope to have it and a sister book, Making Craft Cider,  put out by Shire Publications for sale at the farm stand.

 Apples; history, folklore, horticulture, and gastronomy by Peter Wynne, Hawthorn Books

Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention, A Gardeners Guide by Lee Reich, Addison Wesley Publishing Company

Grow Your Own Fruit, Carol Klein with Simon Akeroyd and Lucy Halsall, an imprint of Octopus Books/Mitchell Beazley

 Apple Pie; An American Story, John T. Edge, G.P. Putnam Son’s

 An Apple Harvest, recipes and orchard lore by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva, Ten Speed Press

The Origins of Fruit & Vegetables, Jonathan Roberts, Universe

 Apples by Frank Browning, North Point Press

The Fruit Hunters; A story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession by Adam Leith Gollner, Scribner

The Apple Book, Rosanne Sanders, Philosophical Library,  New York in association with The Royal Horticultural Society

Apples, A Cookbook, Quantum Books Ltd

Pomologia from Netherlands/Germany/France/England by Johann Hermann Knoop, 1758 (reprinted FKG)

Burcombes, Queenies and Colloggetts by Virginia Spiers and illustrated by Mary Martin published by West Brendon

Gardener Cook by Christopher Lloyd, Willow Creek Press

 A is for Apple, Greg Patent and Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Broadway Books

 Homegrown Fruit, Mimi Luebbermann, Chronicle Books

The Orchard, A Memoir by Adele Crockett Robertson – a truly wonderful book about tough times, Bantam

Henry David Thoreau, Wild Fruits, W.W. Norton and Company

 The American Apple Orchard, F.A. Waugh, 1911

 The Fruit Garden, A Treatise, P. Barry, 1862

Lipincott’s Farm Manuals – Productive Orcharding by Fred C. Sears, 1914

Please check our post on hard and sweet cider titles.

Please ask Jane Booth for permission to reproduce her copyrighted photographs and/or writing. Email jane.booth.1@gmail.com or call (802) 258-3971.   Jane has spent a good part of her career photographing and writing about gardens and small farms for Gardens Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Country Living, Country Living Gardens, Better Homes & Gardens, New Old House Journal, and Cape Cod & Islands Home where she produced an ongoing column and feature stories.

 

Quince – A Versatile Fruit

While much of the orchard is planted with apples, one will find—beyond the rows of Baldwin, Orleans Reinette, and D’Arcy Spice—small, graceful quince trees with fuzzy-backed leaves. Quince, which is related to the apple and the pear has similar scent and flavor profile with overtones of guava and maybe  hints of pineapple depending on the variety.

Quince brighten the orchard

When fully ripened, quince may scent a room, and they are a treat to eat, whether poached, roasted, pureed or baked. But they are never ever eaten raw, as they have a hard, gritty, grainy, astringent flesh.

My husband, David Tansey, and I take frequent walks through the orchard, and from bud until harvest, we like to keep an eye on the development of the quince, delighting in the tightly furled, pink buds that untwist into crimson-veined, cup-shaped blossoms.

Tightly furled quince flowers

The flowers of edible quince are a beautiful sight in May 

The immature fruits are covered in a beige-pink, felt-like skin that turns green as the fruits size. By October the quince take on a sunny, golden yellow color, and whether the variety is pear-shaped or flattened and round, they brighten the orchard at midday and lend a glow in the early evening.

Quince (Cydonia oblonga), a native of Persia, have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. Searching for quince lore we read about paintings of Venus depicted holding this fruit of love and happiness in her right hand, and it is quite possible that it was quince and not apple that got Adam’s Eve into trouble.

Quince come in various shapes and sizes

Quince paste, so thick you can cut it with a knife, is a traditional food in the Mediterranean. The Portuguese call it marmelada, the Spanish membrillo, and in Sicily everyone gets into the act when quince are ripe to make cotognata. It is delicious with sharp or creamy cheeses, a treat on morning toast, or as a sweet end to a meal.

Richard “Lionel” Henry holding a bushel box of just picked quince

Below is a recipe for poached quince. But one of the easiest ways to prepare quince is to toss unpeeled, cored chunks of it into the roasting pan alongside freshly harvested carrots, chopped lovage, onion and a leg of lamb. We do the same when roasting a chicken, deglazing the pan with white white, or better yet, Calvados, to make a sublime juice to drizzle over the meat and vegetables. This year we will surely add quince to the preparation of our Christmas goose.

POACHED QUINCE

 2 medium quince

1/4 to 1 cup sugar, or to taste (sugar is needed to alter the astringency)

 Rub quince under running water to remove any fuzz. Cut in quarters or eighths, leaving skin and core intact (they add additional levels of flavor and pectin). Put in pot with water to cover, along with the sugar. Bring to boil then simmer slowly. The quince should be soft after 30 minutes and can be used as is, or add a tad more water if needed and poach them for two more hours; they will turn a pale pink, and if you have patience, simmer them a bit longer to coax them into a beautiful ruby hew. Cool the poached fruit, remove the seeds and core, and add pieces to an apple pie or Tarte Tatin, or serve on ice cream or yogurt. Don’t toss out the syrup, as the resulting elixir is good for the throat.

This story was originally published in one of our favorite magazines on Vermont food and farming, Local Banquet

Please ask Jane Booth for permission to reproduce her copyrighted photographs and/or writing. Email jane.booth.1@gmail.com or call (802) 866-3329.   Jane has spent a good part of her career photographing and writing about gardens and small farms for Gardens Illustrated, Yankee Magazine, Country Living, Country Living Gardens, Better Homes & Gardens, New Old House Journal, and Cape Cod & Islands Home where she produced an ongoing column and feature stories.  

David Tansey is the founder of The Landmark Trust USA and past president of Landmark and The Scott Farm, both located in Dummerston, Vermont.  He was involved in every step of revitalizing The Landmark Trust USA and Scott Farm properties.