Help Us Win An Orchard – Week 2

We are now in the thick of it!  100 worthy community groups are competing for the 17 winning spots—the prize is an entire orchard.  While the schools have pulled into the lead, we can still be one of the winners if everyone remembers to vote EVERY day until August 29.  Even a small group can win if all their members continue to vote.  HHF is just under 450 votes—let’s shoot for 1,000 before the official last frost date—May 15!

Here’s how:
Click here and you’ll go to the Communities Take Root website
Register once or log in, if already registered
Scroll down the page and find “NY”—you’ll see Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm—
Click Vote!  Then collect your coupon for $1.00 off Edy’s fruit bars
Put “Vote!” in your Outlook, daily minder, or calendar so you don’t forget!

Apple Picking Is So Much Fun!

Now, let’s talk apples, possibly the quintessential Northeastern fruit.  Do you know how many apple varieties exist?  There are somewhere around 15,000 named varieties in North America; today, about 11 are available in your supermarket.  Red Delicious makes up the majority—around 40%.  And taste often takes a back seat to looks.  Why?  Back before widespread refrigeration, trucking and alternative foods, different kinds of apples were needed to ensure a continuous supply of fruit.
In the 1700’s, potable water was an issue.  It was much safer to drink hard cider—even for children.  For cider, you need at least 3 kinds of apples:  bitter, sweet and bitter-sharp.  Some of the bitter-sharp apples (Kingston Black, Stoke Red) taste puckery  and astringent , but they add that jene sais quoi to apple cider.  Orchards are now growing these apples and re-introducing Americans to hard cider, especially in New England.

Even as late as the 1940’s, massive amounts of apples weren’t trucked in from Washington State (or Chile!) in January.  Apples had to be preserved year round to be available in the Northeast during the winter and spring months.  You needed apples that stored well—hard, starchy apples that slowly became sweeter in storage.  And high-tech methods like Controlled Atmosphere Storage didn’t exist back then–only cool, humid root cellars.  Apples like Winter Banana, Ben Davis and Newtown Pippin were planted for this purpose.   Certain kinds of apples were best for dried for snacks and reconstituted for pies, like Yellow Transparent; they could be peeled and hung over the stove to be dried.  Apples that made great applesauce in June and July, well before fall, were valued highly:  Red Astrachan was a good one.  And of course, for eating out of hand, it would be hard to do better than Ashmead’s Kernel, Esopus Spitzenberg and White Winter Pearmain.  Need cold hardiness? Try Northern Spy.  Southern climate?  Black Twig could work. Want large size?  Wolf River’s your ticket.  Sweet, snappy flavor?  Try Yates.

There is an apple out there for most any growing condition.  We’ll talk about the breeding programs that bringing us disease-resistant apples and the various organic growing techniques available in our next blog.   Stay tuned, and vote!