It's apple time at farmers markets

It's apple time at farmers markets and in your kitchen

aweigl@newsobserver.comSeptember 28, 2011 

  • Century Farm Orchards sells heirloom Southern apple trees in Reidsville, about 90 miles west of Raleigh. Owner David Vernon hosts an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday in November. You can purchase trees, taste up to 20 varieties of apples, see an orchard with more than 100 different apple and pear trees, see planting demonstrations and even buy a fried apple pie.

    For more information, go to www.centuryfarmorchards.com.

  • Nothing is more impressive at a fancy dinner party than homemade applesauce. No one expects it, and it is easy to make. Combine 3 pounds peeled, quartered and cored cooking apples, 1 cup water, 1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 8 to10 minutes until apples are tender, adding water if necessary. Remove from heat. Mash with a potato masher or process in a blender or food processor to desired consistency. Makes about 4 1/2 cups applesauce.

    From "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" (Meredith, 1996)

  • This list includes some late-harvest varieties and those that store well so shoppers are likely to see them at farmers markets and in supermarkets between now and January:

    Arkansas Black: Good for eating and baking. Has a natural waxy finish, flavor improves with storage.

    Blacktwig: Tart and similar to Arkansas Black.

    Cameo: Half sweet, half tart, good for both eating and cooking.

    Fuji: Very sweet, good for eating and cooking.

    Golden Delicious: Rich, mellow flavor, retains its shape after cooking. A good choice in salads because it doesn't turn brown easily.

    Goldrush: Tart, good for eating.

    Jonagold: Tangy, sweet and good for eating

    Limbertwig: Sweet and acidic; excellent for eating.

    Pink Lady: Crisp, tart and good for eating, cooking and making cider. It becomes sweeter as it matures in storage.

    Red Delicious: The world's most widely planted variety. Sweet and mild flavor, good for eating.

    Rome: Crispy, juicy and excellent for cooking and baking.

    Stayman Winesap: Tart, good for eating, cooking and making cider. It makes excellent applesauce and pies.

    From N.C. Department of Agriculture, Sugar Loaf Orchards in Taylorsville, Perry Lowe Orchards in Moravian Falls, Windy Hill Orchard in York, S.C., Century Farm Orchards in Reidsville and "Old Southern Apples," by Creighton Lee Calhoun Jr.

Fall to many North Carolinians means a trip to the mountains for leaf peeping, cider drinking and apple picking.

If all you truly crave is North Carolina apples, you only have to travel as far as your local farmers market.

For the next three weeks, you will see an abundance of early season, fresh-picked North Carolina apples from Gala to Honeycrisp. And you can continue to get your fill well into January, because many home-grown varieties, from Arkansas Black to Stayman Winesap, store well and will still be available at the markets.

North Carolina is among the 10 top apple-producing states, and 85 percent of the state's $24 million crop is grown in Henderson County, just south of Asheville. This year's crop was battered by hail, heat and in some places, moderate drought.

The apples that you'll be seeing at the market are, therefore, smaller and have a higher sugar content, said Jack Ruff, the industry's marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

"The apples just taste better this year," he said.

That's good news for apple aficionados. And to help feed their affection, we've compiled a list of those varieties you're likely to see at the market through year's end, shared some tasting notes and indicated which ones are better for eating or cooking.

To us, the only way to enjoy fall is to eat an apple.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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