All the wonderful agricultural fairs are over for another year except for Fryeburg. Most of the gardens have been harvested, and putting them to bed has begun.
Fall is definitely in the air, and the sweet and tart flavors of fresh local apples are available everywhere.
Apples – whether my favorite, McIntosh, or Cortland, Honey Crisp, or those oldtime favorites such as Wealthy and Baldwin and Northern Spy – are often found in farmers’ markets or being sold from the back of a pickup truck along the sides of rural roads.
Nothing is as American as apples and all the delicious pies, breads, puddings, crisps and other delights.
Many of us remember bobbing for apples during a Halloween party, or chomping into a fresh, red apple right off the tree. When I was young, my mother picked apples in one of the local apple orchards. She would always bring home the biggest and reddest of the apples she picked that day. What a treasure!
There are fewer apple orchards around now, just as there are fewer industries, but still enough so we can buy or pick fresh local apples. Botanists have estimated that there are more than 7,000 varieties of apples, but the apple industry grows only about 20 to sell commercially, and 25 percent of those are red delicious. Many of the others can be found in the back fields of old farmhouses struggling to survive, or in museums or specialty orchards.
They store well, but best of all, they provide a juicy, yummy, fresh-tasting delight. Our forefathers often used them to cleanse the mouth.
Fall is also the time when fresh, locally grown cranberries start appearing. The combination of both of these fruits makes for a sweet-tart flavor popular in a variety of desserts.
Here is a tart twist on apple crisp – mixing cranberries with cut-up apples.
Cranberry Apple Crisp (6-8 servings)
6 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 and one-quarter cups chopped, fresh cranberries
two-thirds cup regular sugar
Three-quarters cup oats
One-half cup packed brown sugar
One-half teaspoon cinnamon
One-half cup flour
6 tablespoons cold butter, margarine or butter substitute, cut into small pieces
One-half cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Combine the prepared apples, cranberries and sugar. Pour into a buttered two-quart casserole dish. In another bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. With a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter. Stir in chopped nuts. Sprinkle topping over cranberry-apple mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or cold, plain or topped with vanilla ice cream, milk, or whipped cream.
This recipe is an old-fashioned apple pudding. It’s a perfect ending to a meal on a cool autumn day.
Old-Fashioned Baked Apple Pudding (serves 5-6)
5 or 6 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 and one-half cups granulated sugar, divided (some of the sugar can be replaced with Splenda)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
one-half teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
one-quarter teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter, margarine, or butter substitute
one-half cup milk
1 cup boiling water
Place prepared apples, one-quarter cup sugar and the cinnamon in a buttered 9-inch baking dish. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, half-cup sugar, melted butter and milk. Spoon over the apples. Top with three-quarters cup sugar mixed with cornstarch. Pour one cup boiling water over all. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. Best served warm with cream or ice cream.
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