I look forward to fall all summer long, sweatshirt weather, falling leaves, fresh air, and apples. Yes, I know that technically Fall does not begin until September twenty-third but I did grow up in the Midwest and the temperature change starts earlier there. We would take a car ride on the weekend to a cider mill. Michigan has lots of cider mills. There, we would buy fresh baked doughnuts and apple cider along with a bushel of apples. We would eat apples for weeks. Besides pumpkins, apples are a fall staple and many fall comfort foods use apples, such as apple pie, applesauce, Waldorf salad, cake, and chicken salad. I was happy when I saw all the orchards in the Salem area when I moved here. I am sure the Salem Farmers Market will have some apples this fall and I plan on getting some.
Now for some apple facts that you did not know you needed. According to the U.S. Apple Association, 2,500 varieties are grown in the United States. There are more than 100 varieties of apples grown commercially in the United States, but only 15 popular varieties make up 90% of production. Out of the 7,500 apple varieties in the world, the crabapple is the only apple native to North America. Apple trees don’t start bearing fruit until they are 4-5 years old and can live up to 200 years while continuing to bear fruit. Apples are a member of the rose family as are cherries, plums, and strawberries. It takes about 36 apples to make a gallon of cider. Johnny Appleseed really did exist; his name was John Chapman. He would plant orchards of apple trees on unclaimed land across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, northern West Virginia, and present-day Ontario. He planted a variety of small tart apples used to make hard cider and Applejack brandy, not for eating. Apples are a great source of fiber and a flavor of fall. After a few weeks of apples, my mom would use what was left of our bushel to make applesauce, apple butter, and apple crisps. This week’s recipe is apple crisp. A warm, gooey bowl served with vanilla ice cream or a little heavy cream is a fall favorite.
4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup quick cooking oats or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter softened
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of an 8×8 “square baking dish. Spread apples in the dish. In mixing bowl, stir remaining ingredients together until well mixed and crumbly; sprinkle over the apples.
Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a bit of heavy cream. Caramel drizzled on top is good too.