This fall, seek out heritage apples
Ever eaten an antique? Apple, that is. Whether you call them antique, heritage or heirloom, old-timers like Stayman still got it.
“In October when the phone rings, it’s usually people calling to ask if the Staymans are ready yet,” said Lewis Barnard of Barnard’s Orchard in Kennett Square. “The phone rings more for Stayman than Red Delicious these days.”
Dating back to the nineteenth century, “it’s a crisp apple with a snap to it” and “tart fall taste,” he described. “You don’t see it in the grocery stores very much at all. You did 30 years ago.”
While most supermarkets now favor newer types, local orchards preserve the past.
“To me, an heirloom is a currently neglected older variety,” said Ike Kerschner of North Star Orchard in Cochranville. “They have some problem that makes them not suitable for commercial growers.”
“The reason we grow them is there are flavors in them that are not in the modern varieties,” he added. “I’m kind of just a total apple geek. The point of North Star’s existence was to satisfy my desire for good apples.”
Of his 300 apple varieties, about half are heritage with quirky names like Bloody Ploughman, Cornish Gilliflower and Rosemary Russet.
“The oldest variety we probably have is Calville Blanc, an ancient French variety,” Kerschner said. “It has a very distinctive shape that’s seen in Renaissance paintings.”
Another place to take a bite out of history: Hopewell Furnace in Elverson.
“The earliest mention of an apple orchard at Hopewell Furnace dates back to April 2, 1788 in The Pennsylvania Gazette,” noted park ranger Frank Hebblethwaite. The real estate ad boasted “an excellent young bearing orchard of about 250 apple trees of the best fruit.”
The National Park Service replanted it in 1942 and 1960. Today you’ll find roughly 35 varieties, including Ashmead’s Kernel, Kerry Irish Pippin and Northern Spy.
“We’re just trying to keep the orchard as accurate as possible,” he explained. “The one this year that I liked the most is Tompkins King.”
Taste for yourself since “everyone’s entitled to one free apple.” After that, pick your own for $1 a pound.
Back at Barnard’s Orchard, visitors fill the parking lot in good weather, taking home Grimes Golden, Smokehouse and, of course, Stayman.
“It’s one of my favorite apples,” said Barnard, a fourth-generation farmer. “It’s neat to pick up a different apple each time and see if there’s something in there you might appreciate.”
Edie’s Apple Pie INGREDIENTS
1 cup flour
1⁄4 pound butter (softened) Pinch of salt (less than 1⁄4 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons + 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ice water
2 1⁄2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 1⁄2 cup sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Cut butter into flour and salt. Add ice water. (Draw from a measuring cup filled with ice cubes and water.) Form dough into a ball. Divide in two. Roll one for the bottom crust and one for the top. Place bottom crust in pan. Combine apples, sugar and cinnamon to taste. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Pour into pan. Top with butter bits. Cover with crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 30 more minutes. RECIPE COURTESY OF EDITH SHEPARD
Cranberry-Apple Crisp INGREDIENTS
1 (12-ounce) package of fresh cranberries (sort out any bad ones)
5 to 6 large apples, unpeeled, cored and sliced 3⁄4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1⁄2 cup flour, divided 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1⁄2 cups rolled oats (regular or quick)
1 cup chopped walnuts 6 tablespoons melted margarine
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Put into a 9-by-13-inch pan (greased if it’s glass or not a ‘coated’ pan). Mix remaining ingredients in the same bowl you used before and then sprinkle them on top of the apple mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min or until browned. RECIPE COURTESY OF NORTH STAR ORCHARD
Slow-Cooker Apple and Onion Beef Pot Roast INGREDIENTS
3 pounds boneless beef roast, cut in half
1 cup water
1 teaspoon seasoning salt 1⁄2 teaspoon soy sauce 1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder 1 large tart apple, quartered 1 large onion, sliced 2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons water
Brown roast on all sides in oil in a skillet. Transfer to slow cooker. Add water to skillet to loosen browned bits. Pour over roast.
Sprinkle with the spices and sauces. Top with apple and onion. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Remove roast and onion. Discard apple. Let stand for 15 minutes. In the meantime, to make
gravy: Pour juices from roast into saucepan and simmer until reduced to 2 cups. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth in small bowl. Stir into beef broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened. Slice roast and serve with gravy. RECIPE COURTESY OF NORTH STAR ORCHARD
Heirloom apple tasting
Belly up to bar - the Heritage Apple Tasting Bar at North Star Orchard in Cochranville. Sample 10 varieties every Saturday from 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. through the end of October. Make notes in your “Apple Passport” as fruit experts talk about each one.
The 15-minute tastings start every half hour and cost $5. Afterward, receive a $5 coupon good for anything in the farm store. No reservations needed. www. northstarorchard.com
Lewis Barnard calls Stayman “a heritage apple that is still a today apple.”
A boy carries freshly picked apples.
Expand your horizons at North Star Orchard’s apple tastings.
Hopewell Furnace produced iron products from 1771 to 1883. 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
Pick your own apples at Hopewell Furnace.