Out on a Limb Apple CSA Newsletter
Wednesday, September 1st
Hello and thank you all for supporting us in our second season of the Out on a Limb CSA!
We weren’t sure if we’d be able to continue this year, due to the unusually warm, early spring and the following hard freezes that caused a poor fruit set in our (and many other!) orchards. At first we didn’t think there would be enough apples to go around, but here we are, pulling through and so very pleased to be able to introduce more people to all these uncommon but still incredibly delicious and versatile varieties. There are so many other flavors and textures to experience besides your typical Red Delicious and Granny Smith. We're hoping that you'll never look back, and by the end of the season think to yourselves, “Granny who?”
This week's apples:
Coop 2 (PRI 1225-100=PRI 14-510 x NJ 123249). PRI Coop, 1970. Recommended for dessert (fresh eating) and cider. One of the first modern disease-resistant varieties to be released. Resembles Jonathan which is buried in its parentage. Mildly sub-acid, juicy white flesh. Thick-skinned so you might want to peel it first. Keeps a couple of months. Scab immune. Grown by IPM (integrated pest management).
McIntosh x Yellow Transparent. Geneva, New York, 1923. Excellent for dessert (fresh eating). Also recommended for salads, pies and sauces. Firm, crisp and tart. Reminiscent of McIntosh, but firmer “much more superb” flavor. Named for Milton, NY. Another favorite with the crew. Grown by IPM (integrated pest management).
New Jersey, prior to 1817. Recommended for drying, cider and pies. Grower Mark Fulford loves to eat them fresh with cheese. Very firm, tender flesh with sharp acid flavor that mellows with ripening. Sounds like an apple should when you bite into it. Grown using organic methods.
McIntosh x Liveland Raspberry. Canada Department of Agriculture Research Station, Ottawa, Canada, 1912. Recommended for dessert (fresh eating), sauce and pies. Very tender so handle with care: it’s easily bruised. Its flesh is white, sweet and juicy. Well-balanced and refreshing without being too strong in any direction. One of the favorites of the CSA crew. Grown using organic methods.
Russian apple seedling. Adolph Heyer introduction, Neville, Saskatchewan, 1936. Recommended for dessert (fresh eating) and pies. The flesh is moderately coarse, firm but not crisp, juicy and moderately acid. Surprisingly subtle flavor, it is mild with a hint of tart aftertaste. Stores for 2-3 weeks under ideal conditions. The tree is extremely hardy. Grown using organic methods.
Variety Spotlight: Duchess of Oldenburg
Maine has a long tradition of apple growing dating back over 300 years to the first orchard planted by fishermen near what is now known as Old Orchard Beach. Later European immigrants planted thousands of orchards in Maine during the two hundred years following their arrival, first with seeds brought from Europe and southern New England, and later with seeds from the Maine trees themselves. Apple seeds were readily available from the cider mills, easy to transport and easy to plant. It did not matter to the early Maine farmers that seedling apple trees never grew to be identical to the parent tree and only occasionally produced high quality fruit. They used most of their apples for animal food, cider, and vinegar while reserving only a small number for cooking and fresh eating.
In 1835 the Massachusetts Horticultural Society imported the first of many apple varieties from Russia. These were Alexander, Tetofsky, Red Astrichan and Duchess of Oldenburg. Mass Horticultural was the early precursor to the USDA, the University breeding programs and Cooperative Extension. They regularly imported, tested and disseminated fruits and other plants from around the world. Until Duchess of Oldenburg was imported, northernmost Maine remained without apples. It was soon planted extensively wherever growers needed extreme hardiness. Neither the varieties of Europe, nor their seedlings, were hardy enough to withstand the winters north of Bangor. Duchess brought the apple to the coldest parts of our state, as well as to the coldest areas of New York and New England, the plains states, the upper midwest and much of Canada.
Duchess is still known and loved throughout northern Maine, and its name is practically synonymous with the word apple in the County. It's the parent of one Aroostook variety and thought to be the parent of another. In fact, it has been the parent of a great many varieties in the past century. Appropriately, it is a variety with a multitude of desirable qualities not the least of which are its incredible ruggedness and hardiness. Duchess fruit is excellent for very tart fresh eating. It is very good for sauce and is one of the best of all pie apples. Duchess seedling trees also make very good uniform rootstock called Borowinka on which to graft other varieties. It’s the perfect tree for the coldest climates. It may be the most important hardy apple in the world.
As I have met Duchess growers over the years in Aroostook, it has often sounded to me as though each Duchess is unique. They were referred to as “Duchess” but growers would be likely to say that this Duchess was better than that Duchess. This led me to believe that up there most -or perhaps even all - the Duchess trees were planted as seedlings, not as grafted trees. In a culture with a long tradition of planting apples from seed, this is not too surprising. What is remarkable though is that Duchess is one apple that produces generally true to type seedlings. There are old fields in Aroostook that have been overgrown almost entirely with Duchess seedlings. You can wander through thickets of apple trees for hours tasting Duchess seedlings. They are all variations on a theme, and nearly all taste quite decent.
This week's recipes:
Apple Dream Bars, from the Apple Lovers' Cook Book by Shirley Munson and Jo Nelson.
In our search for recipes to share, we came across this quick and easy apple bar. Ingredients can be substituted according to your preferences. It's fun to experiment. These bars make quite a delicious snack, a guilty breakfast, or a wonderful dessert paired with ice cream!
1 cup flour (we used whole wheat)
¼ cup sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups peeled, diced apples
¼ cup chopped almonds (or nut of your choice!)
½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (we used ginger - yum!)
Directions: Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly, then press into a greased 8” square baking pan. Bake at 350˚ for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Beat eggs until thick and yellow. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla, apples, and almonds. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Stir into egg mixture. Spread over bottom layer.
Bake in 350˚oven for 30 minutes or until apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Makes 16 servings.
Apple Chutney, from the Apple Connection, by Beatrice Ross Buszek. Here's a great way to utilize the late summer abundance.
3 ½ lbs apples
3 ½ lbs pears
2 lbs green tomatoes
2 lbs onions
1 lb small zucchini
(all of the above finely chopped)
8 oz seedless raisins
8 oz brown sugar
1 ½ pints vinegar
2 oz pickling spice
(tied in cotton bag)
salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except sugar and salt, using half the vinegar. Boil, then simmer until tender. Add sugar, salt, and rest of the vinegar. Cook until thick, then remove spice bag. Keep refrigerated. Chutney is a great complement to a spicy curry or used as a spread, served with bread or crackers and cheese.
If you have any recipes or tips you'd like to share, please comment!
“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”
Out on a Limb CSA
167 Turner Mill Pond Rd.
Palermo, ME 04354