Out on a Limb Apple CSA Newsletter
Wednesday, September 29th
As fall settles in, we find ourselves in the midst of apple season. What could be more fitting on these crisp, cool days than a slice of fresh apple pie and warm mulled cider? It’s no wonder that this fruit is granted such a special place this time of year, and here are two upcoming apple events you won’t want to miss:
Great Maine Apple Day – at MOFGA on Saturday October 23rd. The annual event features multiple educational displays, workshops, cider pressing, informational tables, many different apples to taste, Maine apple-related products and Maine apples for sale. Check out http://www.mofga.org for more details. We hope to see you there!
Out on a Limb Cider Pressing – Please join us on Sunday, October 24th, rain or shine, from 1-5 PM at our farm in Palermo. Meet the CSA crew, see the gardens and orchard, press cider and take home a gallon. Bring something to share for a potluck. We’ll have the grill cooking so bring something to grill if you like. Come early and stay late!
This week’s apples:
Late Summer-Fall. NY 55140-19 [Macoun x PRI 54-12 (PRI Coop complex cross includes Rome Beauty, Jersey Black, McIntosh, Wealthy and M. floribunda)]. NY Station, 1978. Liberty is best for fresh eating but also very good for sauce and cider. Often cited as the best of the recently developed “disease-resistant” varieties, particularly in the Northeast. Keeps for only a week or two, so eat them up fairly soon. “What is the black stuff on my Libertys?” Although Liberty is considered to be 100% scab-immune, it is not resistant to insects or other lesser apple diseases. The blackish smoky film on the Libertys is called “sooty blotch.” It sometimes appears in mid-late summer on organic or unsprayed fruit. It’s not attractive but does not affect fruit quality at all. It is not harmful to plant, beast or human. Grown organically, from Wulf Orchard in Unity.
Fall-Winter. Unknown parentage. New England origin, 1700s. Blue Pearmain is one of the most classic of all old American apples and has been grown in Maine for over 200 years. Said to be the parent of the Maine variety Rolfe. Henry David Thoreau writes of it in his wonderful essay, “Wild Apples.” An all purpose variety usually at its prime in early November, and like many varieties it’s early this year. The skin is tough and if you intend to eat it “out of hand” you might consider peeling it first. Its thick skin holds up perfectly in a baked apple. It also makes an excellent, somewhat coarse, tart, yellow applesauce, which cooks up in a couple of minutes. The skins do not dissolve but can be left in the sauce. Highly recommended for quick morning sauce. The skins would probably need to be removed (or blended) if the sauce is to be canned or frozen. The fruit keeps until mid-winter. Grown using IPM (integrated pest management), from the Apple Farm.
Fall-winter. (McIntosh x Red Delicious) New York, 1966. Despite its less-than-perfect parents, Empire is often recommended for dessert (fresh eating). It should also make very decent sauce though we haven’t tried it. The apple comes out the New York State Fruit testing program in Geneva, New York, one of the last remaining apple breeding programs in the US. It’s probably one of their best introductions. Although mostly abandoned in recent years because of small fruit size, the apple can still be found in small quantities in commercial Maine orchards. It should store quite well in the refrigerator or root cellar. Grown conventionally, from Cayford Orchards.
Twenty Ounce Pippin
Fall-early winter. Uncertain origin. About1844. Twenty Ounce is not thought of as a dessert fruit (eating it fresh would be too much of a commitment!), but we recommend it for mid-season pies. It’s also good for sauce. I have found old trees in Aroostook County so it is definitely hardy. Occasionally known to produce apples as big as a baby’s head—as much as twenty ounces! Grown conventionally, from Sandy River Orchard.
Fall. Alexander seedling. Near Wolf River, WI, 1875. Wolf River is probably the most famous old-time apple in Maine, likely due to its catchy name and its extremely large—even huge—round-oblate fruit. Although this years fruit isn’t as large as normal, we still decided to offer it in the CSA. Some people love the dry fruit for fresh eating but usually Wolf River is thought of for drying or baking. It is excellent for both. Because of its natural dryness, it is also the best apple for Carol Gilbert’s famous “Walk About Pie”. Keeps until late fall. Grown organically, from Cayford Orchards.
News from John Bunker
On Thursday September 16, I flew to Washington DC to be honored at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) along with four other apple historian/explorers from around the country. 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the Library. I was humbled to be included with such a great group. Nick Botner from Oregon has the largest private collection of apples in the states and maybe in the world – over 4,000 varieties. Lee Calhoun from North Carolina has been tracking down and writing about apples from the south. He published a wonderful book called “Old Southern Apples” in 1995. A new edition of the book is due out this winter. Dan Bussey from Wisconsin is completing an exhaustive multi-volume book of many thousands of apple descriptions transcribed from all the eighteenth and nineteenth century pomological literature. He has been at work on the project for over twenty years. The book will also include all 3,600 magnificent apple water colors from the USDA collection. It is due out in 2011. Tom Burford from Virginia is the apple educator laureate in the US today. His family has been orcharding since about 1700. He travels and consults and speaks about apples all over the country. The event was organized by Gary Nabhan of the University of Arizona and Ben Watson of New Hampshire. What a group to be part of!
On Thursday afternoon I roamed around the “mall” visiting various museums and even witnessed a marital proposal in front of the “Hope Diamond” at the Natural History Museum. We then all met up and ate together that evening. On Friday we gathered at the NAL for a closed session, the seven of us along with two of Gary’s interns, a food writer from the New York Times and one of the librarians. We shared ideas about how to preserve historic apples and get them out into the public again. Of course among other things I told them all about our CSA. They were all thoroughly intrigued and excited. There should be some local version of what we’ve been doing in every community.
After lunch and a tour of the rare book collection, we all spoke to a group of about 200 apple enthusiasts and USDA employees. Before we began, Dr. Simon Liu, the library director, told this story. When he was a boy in Taiwan, Dr. Liu wanted to do two things in life: drink a Coke and eat an apple. He got to drink a coke fairly early on, but an apple would have cost three days of his father’s pay. So he had to wait until his twenty-first birthday when his parents gave him two apples. He put them in a plastic bag, attached them to the handle bars of his bicycle and he and his girlfriend headed to the countryside for a romantic apple tasting picnic. When they got there, to their horror they discovered that the bag had developed a rip and the two apples were gone! It wasn’t until he graduated from college that his parents gave him another apple – his first ever.
Each of the five of us then got about 10 minutes each to talk about our own adventures as well as how we hoped the USDA and others might help advance the cause of heirloom apples. It was a welcome opportunity to wave the banner for small farmers, diversity in the food system and support for private collectors. This was all followed by an apple tasting of rare varieties we all had brought from around the country. I brought two Maine apples, Rolfe and Kavanagh. Someone brought some excellent cheese and some “probably” pasteurized cider. (I didn’t ask.) We also met with NAL officials to assist them with their plans to plant a historic orchard on the library grounds. A gala dinner followed. Our daughter Tracy who is doing Teach For America in DC joined us. Saturday morning I was up at 4 AM heading for the airport. My hilarious cab driver entertained me all the way to Reagan. He told me that he had memorized Shakespeare as a boy growing up in Nigeria to keep his mind sharp. It was a treat to be serenaded with “Julius Caesar” at 4:30 in the morning!
This week’s recipes:
Walk About Apple Pie, courtesy of Carol Gilbert from Sandy River Orchard. One cold and rainy day after picking apples at Sandy River Orchard, Francis Fenton’s daughter, Carol, came out with a very special treat. Nothing could have been better than this warm, gooey, hand-held pie that melts in your mouth. We were so pleased she gave us the recipe to include here for your enjoyment.
Ingredients: 2 ½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 cup shortening or butter
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, separated
1 qt sliced Wolf River apples
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
Directions: Mix dry ingredients, then cut in shortening. Beat together egg yolk and milk. Add to flour mixture. Toss apples separately with sugar and cinnamon. Roll out half of the dough to fit a greased jelly roll pan. Spread apples on top and dot with butter. Add top crust and cut slits. Brush top with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400˚ for 30 minutes.
If you have any recipes or tips you’d like to share, please comment on our blog at
Apple Risotto, adapted from “A Basket of Apples”, by Val Archer. We found this delightfully creamy, Italian-inspired recipe to really hit the spot, especially after a long day of work in the garden. It will satisfy any autumnal craving for comfort food with class, serving up steaming parmesan-infused rice warmly accented with the sweetness of the desert apple of your choice. We recommend using Blue Pearmain, a favorite of the CSA staff, or, for a subtle kick, Liberty.
Ingredients: 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 ¼ cup arborio rice
12 oz dessert apple, peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
pat of butter (optional)
Directions: Heat olive oil in saucepan and saute onion until lightly colored. Bring stock to simmering point in another saucepan. Add rice to onion and saute for one minute so each grain is coated with oil. Add apple, stir, and cook for another minute. Add one ladle full of stock and cook until absorbed, stirring constantly. Repeat until rice is tender but firm (regulate heat so that the cooking process takes about 30 minutes). The rice should be al dente, firm to bite and creamily bound together, neither dry nor runny. Turn off heat, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in grated cheese and butter. Serve at once with extra cheese on the table. Serves four.
“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” –Mark Twain
Out on a Limb CSA
167 Turner Mill Pond Rd.
Palermo, ME 04354