Monday, October 30, 2006

Red, Ripe Apples


Last week it was "Apple Day" at my children's school. As our youngest is in first grade this year, it was particularly special for him to participate. The day is devoted to the wonders of the apple! The kids make apple pies to bring home, play games with apples, even write a newspaper about apples. A few days later I went up to one of my favorite fall destinations: Gould Hill Orchards in Contoocook, New Hampshire. They had not only saved a bushel of Winesaps for me but I was able to pick up some Rhode Island Greenings for pie-making (my friend Rosemary is planning to teach me her perfect crust technique--I am a miserable crust-maker but can make a sublime apple crisp). I forgot some of the chestnut crabapples and will just have to go back to get some for Thanksgiving stuffing.

With grape jam-making behind me (see separate entry), I can now focus on putting up quarts and quarts of applesauce! My boys won't eat any applesauce except the kind we make together. I can think of no better compliment.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article I wrote for the October 2006 issue of "The Occasional Moose", a monthly publication of The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript:


A few years ago we discovered Gould Hill Orchards in Contoocook while on the hunt for the Stayman Winesap (a small, crisp and spicy October apple—my favorite for sauce or pie). The orchards grow nearly 100 types of apples and other fruits, including many with endearing and old-fashioned names like Sheep Nose, Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, and Blue Pearmain—even the diminutive and lovely Chestnut Crabapple. Now called heirlooms, these once prevalent apples were grown on American farms for different uses and have been revived for specialty markets today because of their distinctive tastes, color, and form.

In the farm stand each apple variety is described by taste and suggested culinary use and you can readily assemble a sampler bag of heirlooms to bring home for your own apple tasting. Gould Hill Orchards also press and sell an intoxicating cider blend. More familiar apples are also available and you can pick your own while overlooking a beautiful sweep of orchards and a panoramic mountain view to the north. Children, especially, will enjoy The Little Nature Museum in the large barn of this historic farm. Not far up from Henniker near Routes 202 and 89, you can call or consult their website for directions.

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