Greetings Fruit Fans,
Happy autumn! Now that the season has changed, we hope you’re not holding back on your apple consumption. As usual, we’re incorporating fruit whenever and however we can in our meals. Cooking apples and eating them warm is one of our favorite ways to adjust to colder temperatures. It helps us cope with the end of summer, making it just a bit easier to say goodbye to fresh-picked tomatoes, sweet corn, basil, and melons. Now that Fall is upon us, we may as well embrace what the season has to offer, which, luckily for you, includes an abundance of extraordinary fruit! We’re glad we get to share the bounty & beauty of apple season with you.
Picks of the week:
(Click each variety for more info)
Although we have offered more than 50 different groupings of apples in the Out on a Limb CSA shares over the past 11 years, we don’t think we have assembled a more historic group of apples than you will discover in your bag this week. These are OLD varieties. You can start with Summer Rambo which originated in France in 1535 (and which amazingly inspired the name for the muscle-bound character played by Sylvester Stallone) and eat your way through the centuries to the youngster of the group, Wealthy, which was introduced around 1870. While we can’t for sure pinpoint the birth of Canadian Strawberry or guarantee that it is senior to Wealthy since it’s origin story remains a mystery, when John first saw the trees in the 1990’s, they were over 100 years old and they were grafted from scionwood that had grown somewhere before that.
These apples impress us. Not only were they outstanding enough for our ancestors to take note of and propagate, they have survived drought, untimely freezes, war, travel across oceans and borders, climate change, pressure from the USDA to get rid of them, and the short attention span and changing tastes of humans. Even more amazing is the fact that these are all multi-purpose apples. You can enjoy them plain in your lunch box, slice them up to eat with a piece of cheese, throw them into your cider press, stew them into a flavorful sauce or bake them into a champion pie that would make even Rambo lay down his weapon in exchange for a fork. How many of the six varieties that you find in the supermarket today can claim even half of those attributes?
So we are excited to have brought together what could be called “The Founding Fruit”. Read their origin stories on our website, line them up in chronological order and give them a taste, cook with them, admire their carnival of colors, and give a nod of thanks to the farmers who noticed them long ago and spread the apple wealth(y). We are all richer because of them.
Apples on table
Stems are right side up, but the
Fruit are upside down.
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.
Upcoming Apple Events
John Bunker’s Apple Talks
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 opportunities to hear John speak in the next two weeks.
October 1: Liberty Library, Rte 220, Liberty - 6:30 PM. Tracking down, identifying and preserving old apples.
October 2: MPBN Maine Calling -1 PM and 8 PM. Call John with your questions as he and Jennifer Rooks talk apples and solve all the world’s woes!
October 5: Colby College, Waterville Homecoming Weekend -4 PM. John returns to his alma mater to talk about Apple History in Maine and his new book, Apples and the Art of Detection.
October 5: Aroostook Apple Day, The Cup Cafe, 61 Military St., Houlton - 10 AM to 3 PM. Educational talks, workshops, tastings, displays and much more. (John will not be attending.)
October 10: Granite Hill Estates, 60 Balsam Drive, Hallowell - 3 PM. Apples and the Art of Detection. For more information contact Dawn Gordon at 207-624-3848 or Granite Hill Estates at 207-626-7786.
October 11: North Haven Historical Society, North Haven Island - 7 PM. History of Apples in Maine, ID’s and apple tasting. For more information contact Lydia Brown at 207-867-4752.
October 12: North Haven Island - 9 AM. A tour of apple orchards on North Haven Island. For more information contact Lydia Brown at 207-867-4752.
October 13: Great Maine Apple Day, MOFGA, Unity - noon to 4 PM. Educational talks, displays, tastings, apple ID’s, apples for sale and more. John will be there all day. For more details, go to mofga.org.
Recipes of the Week
Happy Hippie Honey Apple Cake
This recipe was contributed by longtime CSA member and fabulous cook, Deb Soifer. She brought it to a meeting I attended last week, and it was gobbled up. I wondered if it was a special cake for Rosh Hashana since it included honey and apples, but she claimed it was simply a favorite recipe from her days wearing tie dye, decorating with India print bedspreads and reading Richard Brautigan. She made it with Miltons leftover from the first CSA, but you can try it with any of the apples in your second share. Well, maybe not the Canadian Strawberries - they are too good for eating fresh to be hidden in a cake.
1/4 lb butter
3/4-1 cup honey
1/2 cup walnuts - chopped
2 apples - cored and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 TBS combo of white and white whole wheat flours
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and honey. Mix in salt and vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients together, then add to
creamed mixture and blend together.
Mix in nuts and apples.
Bake in a buttered 9" square pan for 30--40 min
Apple Ginger Shrub
To accompany all the pies you are sure to make this week, you might want to try a refreshing apple shrub. We have been researching, inventing, and enjoying lots of shrubs this summer, so why not an apple one for the fall? The name shrub supposedly is from the Arabic “sharab” which means “to drink”, although it might as well have been inspired by the plants that bore the fruits the early colonists mixed with sweetner and vinegar. It was one of the ways they could preserve the harvest of the summer and fall to enjoy throughout the rest of the year.
These days shrubs are the darlings of mixologists everywhere. We sampled them in every restaurant we went to on Cape Cod over Labor Day. You make them by macerating fruit with sugar or honey, adding vinegar and letting the mixture steep for several days to a week. Once the pulp is strained out, the resulting juice can be combined with water or seltzer or used in a cocktail. Shrubs sound scary with all that vinegar in them, but they can cleanse your palate, stimulate your taste buds, quench your thirst and , with the combination of apples, cider vinegar and ginger, this one also has to be good for what ails you. So to paraphrase George Harrison, “Apple shrubs, apple shruuuh-ubs, how I love you”.
1 cup juicy, flavorful apples - grated (try Canadian Strawberry and Maiden’s Blush)
1 cup sugar or honey
1 TBS fresh ginger - grated
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
Grate the unpeeled apples into a non-reactive bowl.
Mix with the sugar (you can use less than a cup of honey if you are using that) and the grated ginger.
Cover the bowl tightly so no fruit flies get in, and let it sit 24-48 hours on your counter. Stir it whenever you remember.
After a day or two, when you can see that juice has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl, pour in the vinegar, and mix well. Transfer everything into a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid.
Let this mixture rest on your counter or in your fridge for 5-7 days. Then pour it through a fine strainer to remove the pulp. You can use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to press out all the juice.
Return the juice to the glass jar, and put the lid back on. Now you are ready to use your shrub in mocktails or cocktails or straight in a shot glass to get you going in the morning.
Most recipes say that shrubs keep for several weeks in the fridge, but I am still drinking plum shrub that I made in 2018. So decide for yourself.
Here’s a final tip from Clayton: if you don’t feel like cooking, just cut your apple into slices and slather them with peanut butter. Clayton hasn’t met an apple yet that doesn’t go with peanut butter.