Greetings apple lovers,
Welcome to the 11th year of Out On A Limb CSA. We’re glad you’ve chosen to join us for a fall full of fruit, fun, facts, fascination, folklore & fine cooking!
We are excited about two additions to our business this year: one on the personnel front and the other on the infrastructure front.
A friend of ours, Steve Rodrigue, has joined the OOAL crew. We really appreciate his great attitude, creative thinking, work ethic, sense of humor, and so much more. Welcome, Steve! :)
The other thing we’re welcoming is our own walk-in cooler!! After years of depending on the generosity of not-so-nearby neighbors who have cold storage, we decided to invest in a refrigerated space of our own. The building sits at the end of our driveway (where it could be connected to grid power), so we can conveniently keep our fruit fresh much longer than ever before. The cooling mechanism is a standard air conditioner hooked up to a special device called a CoolBot. The CoolBot tricks the A/C unit into thinking the room is much warmer than it actually is, prompting the A/C unit to cool the room far below the standard minimum temperature (60F). We have it set to keep the space at 34F. Pretty cool, huh? ;)
Picks of the week:
(Click each variety for more info)
The first CSA share of the year always requires a bit of explanation, especially for the first shareholders who may be confused that they have received several pounds of one variety and hardly enough to share with a friend of another. We have several objectives when we select the apples each week. We want to include:
a mix of fresh eating apples and cooking apples
some heirloom varieties that were once found on farms in Maine and some more modern varieties that never made it to the produce section at the supermarket
some apples that will rock your taste buds and make you think a whole new way about apples
and a variety or two that you probably won’t find anywhere else in Maine.
So all that means that you are likely to find several pounds of cooking apples in your share. This week that includes Milton and St. Lawrence, two noteworthy early pie apples. Use them alone or mix them together. There are lots of dessert and savory recipes in the recipe section of our website so go wild.
The fresh eating apples in the share this week are the early ripener, Zestar, that we include most years and the relatively rare Williams’ Pride which we had only enough of last year to give everyone a taste. This year you should find enough in your bag to go around. We don’t think you’ll find either of these apples in your local grocery store.
The apple that you will want to open before the rest of your family and friends show up is the Garden Royal. We had only enough to give you a single, small apple - but since we suspect that part of why you joined the CSA was to try as many new varieties as possible, we couldn’t resist including this heirloom apple that originated in Sudbury, MA about 1790. In fact we have two shareholders from Sudbury who drive up to Portland every two weeks to pick up their apples - now that is apple love. So Bob and Debby, this one’s for you.
The last bag in the share is the one that will make you feel as if there is a party in your mouth. Two of our FAVORITE crabs in one bag. You will have to click on the links above to figure out which is which. Chestnut is the darling of the Common Ground Fair Apple Tasting and has more wins under its tiny belt than any other apple. But the one we are most excited to offer FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME is Trailman. We go crazy for this apple when it ripens in August, and it never keeps until the CSA starts. This year, however, it ripened several weeks later than usual so you are in luck. John Paul likes Trailman sauce better than any other, but we’re betting if you try one in the afternoon, there won’t be any left for sauce by dinner time.
We hope you enjoy the apples. Summer apples don’t last long so eat or cook them quickly. We’d love to hear what you think of them.
Our apples come to you straight from the tree, so, as with all fresh produce, please be sure to wash them thoroughly before eating. Some of the apples are grown using Integrated Pest Management by the orchards we collaborate with throughout Maine, and some are organically grown here on Super Chilly Farm.
Apples and the Art of Detection: Tracking Down, Identifying and Preserving Rare Apples
Written and illustrated by John Bunker
John Bunker’s latest literary effort is hot off the press. The “art of detection” is what Sherlock Holmes called his profession. In John’s new book he channels his inner Sherlock as he searches through Maine’s past and present tracking down historic, unusual and occasionally illusive apple varieties and their stories. Part travelogue, part mystery and part how-to manual this book will take you for a ride across Maine and leave you excited to start searching for and identifying the old apple trees in your own neighborhood. Illustrated with hundreds of photos, as well as John’s signature cartoons and paintings of all the iconic Maine apples. 407 pages in full color. $30.00
Upcoming Apple Events
John Bunker’s Apple Talks
New England is full of apple events in the fall. We participate in many, drop in on others and hear about more we don’t have time to attend. If the CSA has made you excited to taste more varieties, learn about the history of apples in New England or just spend the day hanging out with other apples geeks, check out some of the events listed on our Calendar. Here are three opportunities to hear John speak in the next two weeks. You can bring your old apples for him to ID.
September 20-22: Common Ground Country Fair, MOFGA, Unity. Ongoing displays, handouts, apple ID’s and talks at the Hayloft/Fedco Tent. John will be there doing ID’s all three days and will lead apple tastings on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
September 24: Belfast Public Library -6:30 PM. Apples and the Art of Detection, how apples will help save the world (and other stuff).
October 1: Liberty Library, Rte 220, Liberty - 6:30 PM. Tracking down, identifying and preserving old apples.
Identify Your Apples at Common Ground Country Fair
2019 is shaping up to be a good apple year—maybe even a great apple year—in central Maine. We had excellent bloom, good fruit set and decent rain this summer. As a result you may be noticing apples on trees that have not had fruit in years or on trees in the woods and along the roadways that you have never known were there. If you are curious about these apples, you can bring them with you to the Common Ground Fair to see if John or one of the other apple enthusiasts at the Fedco Trees apple display at the Hayloft Tent can help unravel some of the mysteries around them.
BUT before you load your car up with apples, please follow these steps that will help us figure out what your apple might be:
The first step in learning about an apple is to determine if it is a wild seedling or a grafted tree. Seedlings grown from seeds planted by wildlife or an apple core tossed from the window of a car do not have names. The only named varieties are those found on grafted trees that were propagated by nurseries, old timers on the farm or perhaps by your neighbor who took a MOFGA grafting class. If you can, take a couple of pictures of your trees from different angles. It may be possible to see an old graft line on the tree or tell if the tree was once pruned and cared for in an orchard.
Focus on the oldest trees. Apple trees can live well over 100 years and the older they are, the more interesting they are. Old trees can be massive or broken, hollow, turned inside out or growing in waves across the ground where a branch has fallen down and resurected itself like a phoenix from the ashes. It is the apples from these ancient trees that will cause the most excitement among your friendly apple geeks.
Bring 3-4 apples per variety/tree. Apples from the same tree can differ in size, shape and color so several specimens are needed to tease out the commonality between them and get an accurate picture of the apple.
Bring apples in paper not plastic. Apples in plastic bags sweat and begin to rot almost immediately. Apples in paper bags keep in good shape surprisingly well.
When you come to the Hayloft Tent, check out the apple display called “Apples You’d Find in Old Maine Orchards.” Compare your apples with the ones in the display to see if you can determine what you have.
Be patient. It can take time to identify apples, especially if you have something unusual. We may need to take your apples home with us and get back to you. We don’t charge for this service, but we’ll do the best we can!
So please bring your apples to the Hayloft Tent. Come see the huge apple display, pick up some handouts, attend the apple tastings on Friday and Saturday afternoon or listen to a talk by one of the many interesting speakers. Hang out with the unofficial Maine Heritage Orchard Sherlock Holmes Apple Society, and tell us about your ancient apple trees. Our goal is to track down and preserve all the ancient apples of Maine, including the one in your back yard or just down the road. See you at the Fair!
Recipes of the Week
Roasted Garlic, Onion and Apple Jam
I found this recipe in a magazine while I was waiting in a check out line at Walgreens. Granny Smith was the apple of choice (no surprise) so I substituted the two tartest apples from the CSA this week, St. Lawrence and Milton. I made one batch with each variety. They both held their shape better than I expected as the jam bubbled and simmered on the stove filling the kitchen with a mix of sharp, savory and sweet scents. The magazine didn’t make any suggestions about how to use the jam, but there was a picture of it spread on a pizza with what looks like goat cheese and arugula. I spread it on a piece of cold basil pizza that I found in the fridge, and it was delicious. Try it with a slice of cheddar on a piece of crusty bread or in a grilled cheese sandwich as sort of a dehydrated version of french onion soup . Or slather it on a burger or in a Rueben. We even snuck it into tomato sandwiches at dinner tonight.
1 garlic bulb
1 TBS olive oil
1 cup sweet onion - finely chopped
½ cup sugar
½ cup tart apple - finely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the top 1/2” off of the garlic bulb to expose the ends of the cloves. Remove any loose, papery, outer layers. Place the bulb cut end up in a custard cup. Drizzle with the Tbs of oil, and cover with foil. Roast for 35-40 minutes till the cloves are soft. Cool.
Squeeze out the garlic cloves and their juices into a medium saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients, and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes until thickened. Stir often so it doesn’t stick.
Makes 1 cup. Can be frozen up to six months.
Honey Apple Pie with Thyme
I don’t think I ever would have tried this pie if I hadn’t had a jar of thyme honey sitting in my pantry. It was a gift from a friend several years ago, and I haven’t had many occasions where it seemed like “just the thing” I needed for a recipe. It certainly never occurred to me to make an apple pie with it. But Melissa Clark from the NY Times was more imaginative than I was, and she put together this recipe for this subtly different pie. It reminded me of those herbed sorbets some restaurants serve between courses to cleanse your palette - they mess with my taste buds as I try to figure out what I am eating. In the end I always like them. And that’s how I feel about this pie.
3 St. Lawrence apples
4 Milton apples
1/2 cup honey
6 thyme branches
1/4 cup unsalted butter - cut in small pieces
2 TBS instant tapioca
1/3 cup light brown sugar (you may not even need that much)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
flour for dusting
dough for 2 9” pie crusts
Make your favorite pie crust dough. You will need a top and a bottom. Shape them into two flat discs, and chill while you make the filling.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Core all of the St. Lawrence apples and 3 of the Miltons, and slice them into sixths. You may be tempted to slice them thinner since this is thicker than the way you slice apples for most pis, but don’t. They will get too soft.
In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, bring half of the honey to a boil. Let it simmer for 2 minutes until it begins to caramelize. Add 3 thyme branches. Arrange the St. Lawrence slices in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle 2 TBS butter over the apples. Cook until the apples are caramelized on the bottom, and then flip them over, and let them caramelize on the other side. It takes about 10 minutes. Don’t let them get soft all the way through. They will not get really dark.
Scrape the apples and honey into a bowl. Add tapioca and toss to combine. (I didn’t have any tapioca so I skipped this ,and the pie was not soggy.)
Repeat the above process with the remaining honey, thyme and 3 Miltons.
After adding the second batch of apples to the bowl, remove, and compost the thyme branches.
Core and thinly slice the remaining Milton apple, and add it to the bowl. Stir in sugar, ginger and salt.
Roll out half the dough, and place it into a nine-inch pie plate. Transfer the apple mixture to the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vent holes in the top. Place on a rimmed baking sheet to prevent a mess on the bottom of your oven.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, and the juices are bubbling through the vents. Cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
If you have any comments, questions, or recipe suggestions, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.