August is that time with lingering summer heat and last beach days. September we go back to school but the summer sun is still strong. Fall, flannel plaid and apple picking still seems very far off. However, late August and early September is actually the best time to go apple picking. Apples are one of fall’s first harvests. The orchards are heavy with fruit of all the early varieties such as: Gingergold, Gala, early Macintosh and Jonamac. Gingergolds are great for pies and fritters, Galas are sweet to eat, a nice fresh off the tree Mac is tart and juicy but also makes a luscious apple sauce. Whether you eat the apples straight from the tree, make fritters, pie or applesauce, here are some
of my favourite tools and tricks for apple harvest time.
Let’s start with my favourite: apple fritters. Some like fritters that are like a donut with pieces of apple in it. I prefer a fritter that is mostly apple. The tools you need for fritters are: a great peeler, an apple corer and a deep fryer or pot for frying. You can use a dutch oven or heavy pot, but remember to only ever have 2/3 of the pot full of oil and always use a thermometer to make sure your oil is the right temperature so the fritters stay light and not greasy. Gala apples are great for fritters because they are sweet and will soften slightly. This fritter recipe from Epicurious sounds delicious.
When it comes to pie, I have a few culinary tricks up my sleeve to make your pie stand out and be just a little bit better than the average apple pie. It all starts with a good apple sauce. For apple sauce, you want to use an apple that will soften up quickly and easily. I like to use a grater for my apples and will use Macs once they start to get a little soft, Galas work too. Peel and grate your apples on a box grater. I actually prefer to use a flat grater because then apple juice and pieces don’t stick to all the other sides of the box and you can lay it over the pot and grate the apple right into the saucepan. Keep the skins on if you want pink apple sauce and then just pass the sauce through a food mill after to remove the peel.
Now that you have your apple sauce, cook it down a little more with some sugar, maple syrup or honey and I like to add a splash of Cointreau or Amaretto. Cook it down until you have a thick apple butter/apple compote. I love to have a good old glass pie plateand a pretty ceramic oneon hand for my pies unless I’m making a slab pie for a crowd then I use a jelly roll pan. Once you have rolled out your perfect pie crust and placed it into a pie plate use your delicious apple concoction to spread over the crust before you place in your apples. The other trick is to use a variety of apples. I like mostly apples that will stay firm like the Gingergolds, Golden Delicious, and other baking apples, but then I’ll also throw in some other varieties. Try new ones when you go apple picking and those that get soft or are too tart to eat are perfect for a pie. If you are short on apples or don’t have time to make an apple sauce, then a plum jam makes a great substitute for the layer under the apples.
If making crust is more than you can handle, then a French-esque tart is the way to go. Use frozen puff pastry. Thaw it and roll it out a bit and then put down your jam or apple compote and your apple slices. For that you will want a tart panwith removeable bottom (I love the rectangular ones). An apple peeler makes perfect slices to lay out across the pastry too.
Now you just have to ask your Facebook friends where their favourite place to go apple picking is. Reach out to me @BostonCityLiving and I’ll share some of our favourites in the Boston area.