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Friday Favorite: Apples

October 11th, 2013

This edition of Friday Favorites is for Mr Chiots.  I’m actually not a huge fan of apples, in any way shape or form.  Mr Chiots, on the other hand, LOVES apples any way he can get them.
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We have a few different apple trees in the garden, lovely old apple trees.  A few are over 100 yrs old and have many different kinds of apples grafted onto them.  As the apple season is progressing, we’re tasting them and trying to figure out which varieties they are.
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Just recently we picked a big bag of these beauties, I’m thinking they might be a Macintosh.  We used them to bake a cheddar apple pie and I mixed the apples with pears, figs and cranberries for a winter fruit crumble (recipe in Rustic Fruit Desserts).  The pie was so-so, the winter fruit crumble was AMAZING, and I don’t like cooked apples. They’re also great to eat out of hand.  Mr Chiots is certainly in seventh heaven with so many apples to eat.  Now all we need to do is get a cider press so we can make some cider!

Do you like apples? Do you like them cooked?

Apple Picking

October 1st, 2013

Yesterday morning I went apple picking with my neighbor. It was a cute little local place, with a beautiful old barn and old apple trees of all varieties (Bailey’s Orchard in Whitestown). For me, apples signify fall. Mr Chiots LOVES apples and apple cider, he’s in seventh heaven during the fall!
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I didn’t pick any for myself, we have a few apple trees in the garden that are loaded with apples. A gallon of cider and a few small baskets of pears did make it home with me though. I’m hoping to pick a few baskets of apples today to get started on making some applesauce and apple butter for Mr Chiots.

Do you have a favorite variety of apple?

Resources: Heirloom Apples & Other Edibles

September 25th, 2012

It’s fall and that means apples. Mr Chiots is an avid apple fan, both the fruit and the computers. When we head to the market he’s at the apple booth asking about new and interesting varieties to try.


Last summer we visited Seed Savers Exchange and spent time in the heirloom apple orchard. We were blown away by all the beautiful heirloom apples and grapes. We even picked a few up off the ground and tasted them, something they allow and encourage.

Now that we have a larger piece of land, Mr Chiots and I have plans to put in a few more apple trees. In my dreams, a few of them will become espaliers. There are a few old apple trees with the property, most likely we don’t need to add any more. But can you really resist the wonderful heirloom varieties when you read their descriptions?

Through the years, I’ve been collecting links for places that sell heirloom apples. Here are the ones I have found, please mention any you know of in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Most of these places offer other varieties of fruits, nuts, and perennial edibles as well.

Cloud Mountain Farm Center – Cloud Mountain Farm Center is a working 20 acre farm in the Northwest corner of Washington State. We grow fruit, vegetables and nursery plants for local markets, and to create educational opportunities for the general public and beginning and existing farmers. We offer workshops, seminars and festivals throughout the growing season, as well as internships for farmer training. The Center helps farmers and the community network to develop a strong local food system, and provides innovative information about regional agricultural opportunities. Cloud Mountain Farm Center has extensive ongoing variety and growing systems trials for both fruit trees and vegetables. Our nursery produces and sells quality woody fruit and ornamental plants for Pacific Northwest gardens, and our fruit and produce is seasonally available at the farm stand and at the Bellingham Farmers Market. Sales of nursery plants and produce go to support the educational programs at the Center.

Fedco – Welcome to Fedco Seeds, your source for cold-hardy selections especially adapted to our demanding Northeast climate. Each year we observe hundreds of varieties, selecting only the best for inclusion in our catalogs. Through our product lines and cultural hints, we encourage sustainable growing methods. We offer a large selection of certified organic cultivars and regional heirloom varieties. We buy products from all over the world.

Grandpa’s Orchard – Fruit trees are our specialty. Welcome to Grandpa’s Orchard™. The best nursery source for large, high quality bare root fruit trees, nursery stock, and fruittree rootstock for your garden and back yard orchard. Grandpa’s Orchard offers hundreds of varieties of bareroot apple trees, sweet cherry trees, tart cherry trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, prune trees, apricot trees, and other fruit tree varieties for your backyard orchard, including lots of hardy, heirloom, and disease resistant varieties.

Grow Organic – Apple, fruit and nut trees for the homestead. A wide variety of options.

Henry Leuthardt Nurseries – These particular heirloom varieties, grafted onto dwarfing rootstock have done exceptionally well. In fact, dwarfing such varieties has greatly improved the size, quality, and flavor of their fruit. Perhaps in perusing the items categorized as Rare and Choice or Old Varieties you will find something – something you will remember – the apple that used to make such unequaled pies and apple sauces – the apple that you saved for the teacher expecting that the memory of it would last until examination time. They also specialize in espaliered trees.

Miller Nurseries – one of the largest selections of fruit and nut trees, berries, grapes and much more. Choose from 65 varieties of apples, all types of berry plants, cherry, peach, nectarine, plum and pear trees, including Asian pear varieties. Surround yourself with ornamental bushes and roses, flowering and shade trees, asparagus, persimmons, currants, gooseberry plants, paw paws, garden aids and more!

One Green World – Source of heirloom apples and all varieties of other edibles. Located in Oregon.

Permaculture Nursery – Specializing in perennial edibles for permaculture.

Raintree Nursery – Raintree selects fruit varieties for flavor and ease of growing, with you the backyard gardener in mind. We have searched the world to collect the best backyard fruit varieties for you, the American gardener, as you will see as you enjoy our catalog.

Scott Farm Vermont – Scott Farm produces 70 varieties of ecologically grown apples – heirloom apples such as Roxbury Russet, Belle de Boskoop, and Cox’s Orange Pippin and unusual apples like Winter Banana and Hidden Rose – some of the finest in color, texture, and taste. Other fine fruits include quince, gooseberries, medlars, Asian pears, plums, raspberries, elderberries, table grapes, pears, blueberries, nectarines, and peaches.

St. Lawrence Nurseries – St. Lawrence Nurseries is a small, family-run business. The Nursery was started in the 1920’s by Fred Ashworth, a Northern New York farmer and plant breeder who during his lifetime made many contributions to the world of edible and ornamental plants, but especially to the relatively undeveloped realm of cold-hardy fruit and nut trees. Bill MacKentley met Fred in 1972, and, inspired by this extremely knowledgeable yet humble and generous man, worked with him as a friend and apprentice. When Fred Ashworth died in 1977, Bill decided to continue his mentor’s work, propagating new and old varieties of cold-hardy edible plants and making them available to growers in northern climates. Bill and his wife Diana purchased the land in Potsdam, New York, where Fred had carried on most of his nursery work. Over the years, by collecting and planting seed from Fred’s original nut tree selections and by continuing to propagate the many fruit cultivars tested and recommended by Fred, we have kept much of his knowledge and experience alive. To this we have added new discoveries and experience gained from living and growing trees in an uncompromising climate.

South Meadow Fruit Catalog – Southmeadow Fruit Gardens was established to make available choice and superior varieties of fruit trees and plants for the connoisseur and home gardener. After searching for sourcewood and testing for authenticity, these varieties are propagated at our nursery in Southwestern Michigan. They are available to the public through this online catalog.

Seed Savers Exchange – they have an apple grafting workshop and you get to take home a few heirloom apples if you attend. I wanted to attend this year but had a scheduling conflict. Follow them on Facebook to keep abreast of their events.

Trees of Antiquity – As always, our nursery is centered on the rich history and future discoveries that our heirloom apple trees provide through the years. We continue to discover the unique flavors, textures and lore that surround our heirloom fruit trees and look forward to extending this experience to your home.

Tower Hill Garden – Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA. They are have a Shades of Autumn Festival which will include taste-testing tours of the famous antique apple orchard – with 119 varieties of pre-20th Century apples. They also offer whips or scions in the spring as well.

Vintage Virginia Apples – Rural Ridge is a family-run orchard dedicated to exploring the varieties of apple that can thrive in Albemarle County,Virginia. Thomas Jefferson experimented with 18 or more varieties of apples at Monticello, only a few miles from our orchard. Rural Ridge grows the dozen or so of those cultivars that are still extant as well as hundreds of other old-fashioned varieties that offer delightful alternatives to the limited varieties currently available in grocery stores.

Wagon Wheel Orchard – Offer bench grafts of hundreds of varieties of apples and pears. Not all varieties are offered each year. Like them on Facebook to keep up with their graft sales.

One reader mentioned in the comments that The Home Orchard Society is a great resource for gardeners like us. They offer lots of information and a scion swapping in the spring.

What’s your favorite variety of apple? Any great heirloom apple resources to add to the list?

More Resources:
Heirloom Seed List
Seed Potato Sources
Alternative Allium Sources

Making Hard Cider

November 2nd, 2009

I decided to try my hand at making some hard cider this year. I’ve been making my own apple cider vinegar for a few years and I’ve heard it’s better if you start with hard cider. Generally to make my vinegar I simply pour cider into a big glass jar, cover with cheesecloth and let it sit for a few months until it’s vinegar, easy as that. I do buy unpasteurized cider from a small local press, so it contains the natural yeasts in it that ferment it and then turn it into vinegar.
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I read up on how to do it, and the best article I found was over at Mother Earth News. I ran to my local brewing supply store (which happens to be Leener’s) and I bought some valves and one one gallon jugs and some of the yeast mentioned in the article (Red Star Cote des Blancs).
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I decided to make a few different kinds of cider, one with only natural yeast, one with the natural yeast and the purchased yeast, and 2 gallons with only the purchased yeast. If you buy unpasteurized cider and you want to make your hard cider with purchased yeast you’ll have to pasteurize the cider to kill all the natural yeast. I decided to try a batch with and without this step to see how it would affect the final product.
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In a few weeks I should be able to taste my cider and see the difference between the 3 methods. I’m very interested to see if the apple cider vinegar I make from this cider tastes different than the stuff I make without this specific fermenting step.

Anything interesting brewing at your house?

A Trip to the Orchard

October 29th, 2009

Last Monday Mr Chiots and I stopped by a local orchard to buy some apples to make applesauce & apple butter. It’s a great little orchard that is as organic as you can get and still have apples. They use the bare minimum of treatments on their trees. They also try to keep their business small and do things the way they’ve always done it. It’s such a cute little place, when you drive up you’re greeted by 5 dogs that are very happy to see you.
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All the apples are stacked under a huge tree beside their house. The owner explained to us that he could buy a second cooler, but then he’d have higher electric bills and then he would have to work more. So he just stores his apples outside and sells what he can before they all go bad.
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They had cats patrolling the crates for mice and I’m sure the dogs kept the deer, opossums and raccoons away.
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I was up till the wee hours of the morning today making applesauce with the bushel of apples I purchased for $12. What kind did I get? I simply asked them for a bushel of good applesauce apples and they picked out a selection of 4-5 different kinds for me. If you are anywhere close to Orrville, Oh, head on over and visit Hochstetler Orchards, 13460 Church Rd, Orrville, OH 44667.

Do you have a favorite local place that you purchase specific items from?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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