apples, apples, apples...
autumn would not be so festive without apples. when my husband and i lived in southern vermont, i remember visiting many apple orchards. one farm we frequented, mad tom orchard was in the little town of dorset. after we picked apples, my husband would fly fish in the nearby mad tom creek which made the whole trip complete for both of us. in new england, the apple of choice is the very yummy macintosh. since i grew up on the west coast i wasn't too familiar with this variety. mostly, i remember macs that were kind of mushy and tart. but, when they are fresh off the tree, there is nothing as crisp and yummy as a macintosh apple! nowadays, there are so many apple varieties, that i thought it might be nice to review a few of the popular ones out there. also, i thought it would be great to provide a chart that assesses the various apples for baking and cooking. it also interesting to note that each region of the united states has local varieties, so sorry if i've left out some types.
so this blog post will be divided into three parts.
~ first, there is an interesting quiz about apple facts
~ second, a summary for a few apple varieties as well as a helpful cooking chart
~ third, a candy apple recipe
~ a funny note about the nester ~
this is a story about the nester's husband. as a child, he and his buddies
would raid an apple tree in his neighborhood. the poor old ladies who owned the apple tree
had a bakery where they sold fresh homemade apple pies!
actually, i'm not sure if this a funny or a sad story. :o)
part 1 ~ an interesting quiz about apples!
the apple has many interesting facts!
do you know which country produces the most apples?
do you know where the apple originated?
true or false, granny smith and fuji apples can be stored up for a year?
what chemical do the apple seeds contain?
true of false, there are 7,500 varieties of apples?
no worries if you don't know that answers, but if you got them all correct, congrats!! if you thought that the united states produces the most apples, it is actually is china!
the country of kazakhstan lays claims to the first apple. there is a southern city called almaty that is literally the ancestral home of the apple. the word alma translates to apple. when we were visiting and adopting our son in kazakhstan, we would buy little bags of apples from the street vendors. when we returned home to our little apartment, we would boil the apples and add a little sugar to make a delicious applesauce. at that time we had no idea that almaty had apple trees that go back to ancient times.
it is true that the granny smith and fuji apples can be store up to one year. i guess apples are stored in a chamber with high amount of carbon dioxide to prevent the ripening of the apples.
apples seeds contain cyanide. in small doses it is not toxic unless consumed in extremely large amounts!
yes, there are 7,500 varieties of apples! so many to choose from!!!
part 2 ~ review of apple varieties
today was the first time i have tried this apple! it is amazingly sweet and has a medium crispness. it originated from a new york state agricultural experiment in the 1820's. it's a cross between a golden delicious and a jonathan apple. it has an aromatic honey like flavor with tangy sweet side without acidity. this is a very yummy apple for eating fresh. i think i have a new favorite apple.
first grown in 1974 by donald w. mckenzie. it is a cross between a golden delicious and new zealand apple called, kidd's orange red. it appears there are something like 25 different variations of the gala apple! they are sweet and aromatic and it almost has a spicy flavor. they are a small apple and fit nicely in a child's hand!
in 1952, the seedling was discovered by a new zealand farmer, o. moran. it is thought to be similar to a cross between a granny smith and a lady hamilton. i found that when i tasted it, i got a very strong burst of flavor. it is tart and somewhat sweet, kind of close to a new england macintosh! one thing is for certain, it is very crisp.
it originated as a cross between two american apples, the red delicious and a virginia ralls genet. it was developed by growers in tohoku research station in the late 1930's in fujisaki, japan. it was introduced to the public in 1962. contrary to opinion, it is named after the town rather than mt. fuji! it is a very sweet, crisp apple, and of course is popular in japan. it appears that they are something like 19 varieties of fuji apples!
miniture honey crisp ~
i'll review the normal size honey crisp. it originated at the university of minnesota, and was originally thought to be a blend of the macoun and honeygold apples. but later, it is known that one of it's parents is the keepsake apple. the honey crisp was first introduced in 1991. and interesting fact about this bi-color apple and it becomes redder when grown in cooler climates. i love how sweet, firm, and tart it is!
part 3 ~ homemade candied apples
i'm not sure how i've not made either candy apples or caramel apples, so recently i tried a few recipes. the first one had me freeze the apples overnight. the idea is that when coated with the hot candy, it will quickly harden it. well, maybe that works for some people, but definitely not for me. once the apple thawed, i had a runny mess of syrup. hmm... the second recipe used the caramel candies and the microwave. this one still was somewhat gooey. so i finally abandoned the caramel apple mission and i found a candy apple recipe that worked. also, it's cool that they are just so ruby red and pretty! i made 3 recipes and finally the third one was a charm. i ended up making some changes and here is my version.
3 - 4 medium apples
2 1/2 cups of white sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup mineral water ( i couldn't find plain so used berry sparklingy water)
2 drops of red or black food coloring ( i saw someone had made black ones, they looked amazing)
1. wash and the dry apples. next pluck out the stem and place stick in it's place. make sure it is securely placed into the apple.
2. cover a baking sheet with wax paper or aluminum foil.
3. in a medium saucepan mix sugar, mineral water and dark corn syrup. bring to a boil and then reduce to medium to low heat. at this point you'll need a candy thermometer. now stir the sugar. this part should take about an hour. the temp should reach 300-310 degrees fahrenheit. it is tricky to get it just right... to test the readiness, have a glass of cold water on hand at the end, and when the temp gets close to 300... drop sugar in the cold water and you should get the sugar to make strings. don't pull the mixture off the stove until this happens.
4. take off the stove and add the 2-3 drops of red food coloring. quickly, swirl the apples in the sugar and place on the wax paper. don't be afraid to swirl until you get a good layer on the apple.
5. when placing it on the wax paper, make sure the apples aren't touching.
* if you like this recipe and would like to make more apple desserts, check out this post: french apple custard tart
a local store ~
we have this wonderful chocolate store. well, my good friend monica, told me to hop on over there and buy one of their caramel apples. so, since my little fiasco in the kitchen left me wondering what a good caramel apple taste like, i took my friend's advice and bought a few gourmet apples. we ate two of the three caramel apples for dessert tonight and we were all amazed how delicious and unusual they were. i wish i could send you some to taste!
interior of the chocolate store ~
our little town is just adorable and this shop is one of many of the cool ones to peruse. they make all their candies by hand and of course they taste amazing!
caramel apples ~
there were so many too choose from, but i came home with these three. the one in the front is inspired by apple pie, the one to the left has peanut butter and chocolate, and the one to the right is a snickers inspired apple. yes, the front apple has a cinnamon sugar coating! i found it interesting that they used a granny smith apple, i guess they last longer and stay crisper!
well, i hope you enjoyed this post as much as i enjoyed researching and writing it. i'm sorry that i can't somehow send you some caramel apples, but maybe this will persuade you to find your own store that sells gourmet caramel apples. enjoy the fall apple season and if you have a nearby apple orchard, visit and pick your own fresh apples. i think i'm going to get my family to take a road trip to the little town of apple hill. doesn't that name sound so quaint? anyway, thanks for reading my post and i hope you return or subscribe!