One of the things I love best about Autumn is apple picking. It’s a great way to experience the great outdoors, the cool breeze and the warm sun. The scent of apples in the air and the frantic buzzing of bees accompany my excursions to the orchard. My favorite local orchard, Hackleboro in Canterbury NH, has a viewing tower, a petting farm and a great farm stand. They also offer hayrides in season and carry a lot of luscious farm produce besides apples and apple products. Pears, peaches, blueberries and strawberries, in season, maple syrup, honey, baked goods and so much more fill the shelves of the little shop. There’s something for everyone there! I try to go 2 or 3 times before the end of the season to take advantage of the different ripening dates of the various apples. My children, grown up and moved on, still enjoy occasional forays to the orchard with me, when schedules allow. I need to get back there at least once more before Thanksgiving.
I enjoy spending an afternoon at the orchard, then returning home to make a pie or other apple recipe and savoring a mug of hot cider.
Apples are always best fresh, and if you pick your apples yourself, you know you are eating local and supporting local agriculture. I like to pick up several bags for eating out of hand and more for adding to recipes. There are so many things you can do with apples. There’s the obvious apple pie and apple crisp, but I add apples to many other things too; for instance chopped up and added to oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, diced and added to stuffing for winter squash or roast meats. I add slices to salads and even hot dishes like a cast iron skillet full of sweet and sour red cabbage. Apple sauce is so easy to make when you cook the apple chunks with the skins on and just run the resulting puree through a food mill afterward. It comes out a beautiful pink color and doesn’t even require sugar or spice. It’s even yummy warm.
I use apple cider in stews and pot roasts and even include it in Onion Soup for a seasonal touch. See my Autumn recipes for more ideas. If you have any favorite apple recipes, send them to me and I’ll be glad to include them here. Meanwhile, here’s my Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage recipe:
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apples
1 medium head of red cabbage, cored and halved, pole to pole, then slice crossways, about ½ inch thick
3 apples, cored and sliced, peels can remain on
1 cup whole cranberry sauce, drained or ½ cup dried cranberries
2 medium onions sliced into rings
3 tablespoons Olive oil or bacon fat
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, if desired
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup fennel, caraway or sunflower seeds
In a heavy skillet, I use cast iron, heat burner to medium and pour in olive oil or melt bacon fat
Add onion and cabbage in layers and cook until tender, stirring as needed.
When cooked through, add sliced apples and cranberries, cook a few more minutes to heat through.
Add cranberries and vinegar, toss with seeds, pepper and salt. Serve hot. Great side dish with just about anything !