apple season, already

William H. Martin. A Load of Good Iowa Apples. 1909

I love this recent MoMA Five for Friday, highlighting 5 works from the MoMA collection.  I always love me a good food theme.

The apple farms got hit hard by Hurricane Irene, since trees heavy with almost ripe fruit standing in completely saturated soil were very easily toppled during the storm.  We are well into the midst of picking season, so if there’s a day where it will just stop raining, I highly recommend getting yourself out to a nearby orchard.  Availability can change so it’s a good idea to call ahead to make sure they still are open for U-Pick.  Here are a few good options:

Love Apple Farm

Don Baker Farm

Fix Bros Farm

Golden Harvest Farm – HUGE bonus: a micro distillery

I’ve been in denial for weeks.  You know what apple season means, right?  Winter is next.  Sigh.

So if you’re smart you’re going to put away some of those apples for later in the season.  The first thing that I make is a very simple applesauce.  It’s worth pulling out the dutch oven to make a batch or two and to stick a couple of jars in the freezer.  I probably post this recipe every year:

Applesauceadapted from Joy of Cooking

Place in a large, heavy skillet or saucepan:

3 pounds cooking apples, peeled if desired, cored, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1/2 – 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, depending on juiciness of apples
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, depending on tartness of apples
1 large cinnamon stick

Cover and simmer, stirring often, over low heat using tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes (maybe longer).  Stir in:

Scant 1/2 cup white or turbinado sugar or 6 tablespoons mild honey  (I use local honey)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional – but use it)
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional – good thing, since I never have it)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cook, stirring, until the sweetener is dissolved and blended, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Discard the cinnamon stick.  For chunky applesauce, break up the apples with a wooden spoon.  For medium texture, crush with a potato masher.  For smooth sauce, pass it through a food mill or coarse sieve.

Serve warm or chilled.  Great on greek yogurt.

***

I usually don’t put in all the apple peel into my applesauce; just a little for color. Maybe if I had chickens I wouldn’t feel so guilty about throwing away all that peel.  At the very end of the season last year I found this (very relaxed) recipe requiring apple peel.  You might get a chance to try it before I do – if so, tell me how it goes!

Apple Peel Jellyfrom craftster.org

To make the jelly I took the peels and cores from 5 apples (I used cortland) and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them. I boiled this for about 10 minutes. This part smelled sooo good! Then I poured the mix through a colander to strain out the chunks. I got about 2 cups of pretty pink liquid. I poured this back into my pot, stirred in a cup of sugar, a little bit of cinnamon and set it to boil. Then I put my candy thermometer in the liquid and waited for it to reach 220F (which is where the thermometer said ‘jelly’). After that, I poured it into an empty sauce jar. The 2 cups of liquid boiled down to around a cup. And there you have it, apple cinnamon jelly!

***

What else can you do with apples?  Make lots of galettes.  Or crisps.  Or crumbles. What about a Dutch apple pancake???

***

If you prefer to drink your apples, check out the Hudson Valley Cider Route created by The Apple Project.  There will be a Cider Week (“join the hard cider revival”) October 16 – 23.  I’m game!

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