Apple Blossom Love in the Afternoon . . . A Little Romance at Scott Farm Orchard

May 20th, 2013 § 2

Sunset_Scott_Farm_Heirloom_Apple_Orchard_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com A Late Afternoon Stroll Through the Sun-Drenched Orchard at Scott Farm; Fragrant with the Sweet, Delicate Scent of Apple Blossoms . . .Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_in_the_Orchard_at_Scott_Farm_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden Seduced by the  Impossibly Romantic Combination of Apple Trees in Full Bloom, Golden Light and Perfumed Air . . .

Sunlit_Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.comMinutes Slip and Stretch to Stolen Hours; Luxurious into Evening . . .

Sunset_in_the_Heirloom_Apple_Orchard_at_Scott_Farm_Vermont_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden As the Last Rays of Sunlight Illuminate Silken, Pastel-Pink Petals . . .

Delicate_Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Orchard_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenersedenBlushing and Trembling —Chill to the Breeze— A Frenzy of Dizzy Dancing Above Dandelions . . . Apple_Orchard_Blossoms_from_Scott_Farm_Hilltop_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comSoon a Twilight Chorus of Redwing Blackbirds and Bumble Bees, Rises from the Shadows . . .

Heirloom_Apple_Blossoms_at_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden A Springtime Siren-Song, Whispering on the Wind, Shaking Loose a Cascade of Wayward Petals . . .

Apple_Blossom_Petal_Strewn_Pathways_Through_Scott_Farm_Orchard_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Falling Soft to Verdant, Blossom-Strewn Pathways  . . .

Violets_and_Apple_Blossoms_Scott_Farm_Vermont_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.comAnd Violet-Lined Carpets . . .

Scott_Farm_Apple_Blossom_Season_smallJPEG_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenersedenDrifting off to Sweet Summer Slumber and Autumn Apple Harvest Dreams.

Thank you to Ezekiel Goodband, Kelly Carlin, Tristam Johnson and everyone at Scott Farm and Landmark Trust, U.S.A. 

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Scott Farm’s Springtime Renaissance: Above the Orchard, Beauty in Full Bloom

May 15th, 2013 § 4

Scott_Farm_Orchard_Apple_Blossom_Aerial_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comBeauty in Full Bloom: Above the Apple Orchard, Scott Farm, Vermont

It’s apple blossom season at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, and the orchard is in full, fragrant glory. Having posted many articles here on The Gardener’s Eden about the Scott Farm orchard —both during the springtime bloom and again during the autumn apple harvest— I decided to do something a bit different this year. Change is in the air at Scott Farm, and inspired by the uplifting mood, I took to the sky for a fresh, symbolic perspective on this beautiful, Vermont treasure.

Scott_Farm_Aerial_One_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.comRow upon row of heirloom fruit trees —including apples, quince, peaches, plums and pears, as well as berries—  fill the orchard at Scott Farm

With Tristam Johnson now serving as interim executive director at Landmark Trust, the springtime excitement at Scott Farm has reached an all-time high. Kelly Carlin, office manager, has been updating Scott Farm’s website, and long-time orchard manager and heirloom fruit tree expert, Ezekiel Goodband has recently begun blogging; journaling about day-to-day orchard keeping, as well as posting updates on fruit tree sales, educational programs and community activities at the farm. There’s a springtime renaissance happening at Scott Farm, and the entire orchard is buzzing with the lively energy of a newly invigorated hive. Be sure to visit the Scott Farm website throughout the growing season for information about the availability of ecologically grown orchard fruit and berries, as well as seasonal events and educational opportunities at Scott Farm.

Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_Two_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com 
Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_Three_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com

Scott_Farm_Aerial_Straight_Down_2013_Michaela_Medina_Harlow_thegardenerseden.com

A heart-felt thank you goes out to Landmark Trust’s new, Executive Director, Tristam Johnson, Scott Farm’s Office Manager, Kelly Carlin and Scott Farm Orchard Manager, Ezekiel Goodband for extending a warm welcome on my visits, both aerial and terrestrial. Wishing everyone at Scott Farm a bright and happy new growing season!

And a very special note of thanks to William Bonnette, offering flight training, photo flights and aerial photography services in New England, and beyond. Thank you so much for donating your time, expertise and use of your aircraft for this flight! Click on image below for more information or to schedule your own flight above New England!

flypioneervalley.com

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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A Glimpse of Autumn Orchard Beauty: Clarkdale Fruit Farm, from Above . . .

November 3rd, 2012 § 2

Autumn Orchard Beauty: 1,200′ Above Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts

Is there anything more delightful than the colors and flavors of an autumn orchard? Looking down at the Clarkdale Fruit Farm orchards from 1,200′ AGL, it’s impossible not to dream of strolling with friends; enjoying a cup of cold, sweet, fresh-pressed cider, amid the beautiful fragrances & colors of golden pears and blushing apples . . .

Sweet, Rich Colors to Match the Flavors of Autumn Harvest: Clarkdale Fruit Farm

Clarkdale Fruit Farm is a wonderful, friendly and welcoming orchard located in Deerfield, Massachusetts. This fourth generation, family owned orchard harvests and sells more than 100 varieties of sustainably grown apples —including heirlooms planted by the first generation of Clarks— peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, grapes, cherries and other fruits; as well as pumpkins, gourds and other produce. Clarkdale Orchard also presses their own delicious, sweet cider blends.

Clarkdale Orchard participates in Franklin County, Massachusetts’ Cider Days (this weekend, November 3rd and 4th, click here for more information and event schedule).

For more information, visit the Clarkdale Fruit Farm website by clicking here.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Oh, Sweet-Scented Orchard Blossoms! Selecting & Growing Fruit Trees at Walker Farm with Zeke Goodband…

April 29th, 2012 § 2

Apple Blossoms at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont

The Sweet Scent of Spring: Filling My Hands with Fragrant Apple Blossom Petals as They Fall from the Trees

A Inspirational, Springtime Stroll through the Heirloom Apple Orchard at Scott Farm in Vermont

Many gardeners dream of an orchard filled with homegrown peaches, plums, pears, quince, cherries and apples, fresh for the picking. Fruit trees make wonderful additions to the home landscape, and given proper selection and care, they will provide both beauty and sustenance to the gardener for many years. Spring is the best time of year to plant young fruit trees, and I’m often asked to incorporate them into my garden designs. It’s important for all gardeners —including professionals— to refresh and supplement their horticultural knowledge from year to year, and stay on top of trends. So over the weekend, I joined an eager audience of backyard gardeners at Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, to listen to our local fruit tree expert and orchardist extraordinaire, Zeke Goodband of Scott Farm, share his tips on selecting, growing and pruning fruit trees. I always learn something new from Zeke, and here’s a bit of what he had to offer by way of advice on choosing and caring for young trees in the home orchard…

Orchardist Zeke Goodband demonstrates proper technique for staking young, semi-dwarf fruit trees in the first two years after planting. Pointing out the need for care when strapping trees to stakes, in order avoid damaging the living cambium layer of the tree, Zeke explains that wire, twine and rope may cut through this important layer of bark. Never tie directly to the tree. Zeke recommends using soft, pliant material —such as cloth or rubber— to create a sling around the bark, in order to protect the tree when anchoring and tying it to stakes.

The most important step to take when planting fruit trees —whether an entire backyard orchard or a single specimen tree in the garden— is to properly assess the site. Fruit trees of all kinds require full sun and excellent drainage. In order for trees to flower and develop fruit, they need light from sunrise to sunset throughout the growing season. A little bit of shade in early morning or late afternoon is acceptable —though not optimal— for fruit trees, but a half day of sun or full shade will not provide fruit trees with the conditions they need to grow and produce fruit. In addition, keep in mind that all fruit trees are intolerant of wet soil. So before you get your heart set on a backyard filled with apples and peaches, explore your site with a shovel. Is it poorly drained? If so, choose another site. When the roots of fruit trees sit in wet soil, the tree will slowly decline and eventually die. Equally important, be sure to provide your fruit trees with plenty of room to grow. Even though many modern fruit trees are referred to as semi-dwarf, they still need to be positioned at least 10′ from buildings and other objects, and 15-20′ from other trees. This is important. In order to grow and flourish —and avoid diseases— trees need ample sunlight and airflow.

Another site issue worth considering when planting fruit trees is the presence of wildlife. Deer can cause a tremendous amount of damage to unprotected fruit trees —both to fruit and branches in all seasons— so if deer are common guests to your property, building a fence —at least 8′ tall— is advisable to protect your home orchard. Apple trees are particularly vulnerable to deer browse. For a single tree or small grouping, a more economical, shorter fence may be used to surround and protect the trees.

Zeke discusses some of the differences between the cherry tree varieties available at Walker Farm, and talks about how to select, and care for young trees after planting

Once a site has been carefully chosen, fruit trees may be ordered bare-root —from an online source or mail-order catalog— or they may be purchased in pots at local orchards, nurseries and garden centers, where they may be hand-selected. Walker Farm sells many kinds of beautiful, hardy fruit trees —apples, cherries, peaches, plums and pears, to name a few— and most are three years old. Peaches begin to provide fruit at a very young age, and although they are short-lived (Zeke suggests re-planting peaches every 10 years or so), they are quick to provide a sweet reward; making them a great choice for that first tree.

Once your fruit trees arrive to their new home, how well they are cared for will determine your success and future yield. Bare root trees will need to be planted soon after they arrive. If you must wait, be sure to keep the trees in a cool, dark place (such as the box in which they arrived). Soak the roots briefly —while digging the holes— and settle them in with a long, slow drink of water after planting (a 5 gallon bucket of water with small hole for steady drip works well). When planting fruit trees —bare root or potted— Zeke discourages improving the subsoil with compost or manure. The goal is to get the trees to settle in; spreading their roots beyond the planting hole. If the soil is over-enriched, the roots of the tree will likely remain confined to the planting hole, instead of spreading out and properly anchoring the tree. When planting a potted tree, dig the hole slightly bigger than the container and back-fill with the same soil. When settling the tree into the hole, be sure to leave the graft-union —looks like a knobby elbow— exposed 2-4″ above the soil, and then back-fill completely —avoiding air pockets— tamping the soil very lightly with your foot when complete. There’s no need to fertilize or add compost as top dressing until the tree leafs out. Once it does, fertilizer (10-10-10) or compost may be sprinkled around the root area and lightly worked in. Young trees do like nitrogen for the first 3-4 years (and peaches grow and fruit best when given nitrogen every year, throughout their lifetime) but never feed your trees after the 4th of July (and always avoid using tree spikes. Zeke really dislikes these —as do I— because in seasons with dry springs and wet falls, they neglect feeding when needed and then provide it at the worst possible time: when trees need to go dormant). In order to discourage pests and eliminate root competition, it’s very, very important to keep the root area of fruit trees clear of weeds and grass. So, a layer of mulch (2-3 inches at the base), plus regular weed patrol, is a good idea.

Voles and string trimmers —both of which damage the tender cambium layer of bark— are the enemy of young fruit trees. Protect your trees by creating 18″ high, circular wire cages from hardware cloth. Avoid use of plastic tree-wraps, as they harbor harmful pests, including borers. Hardware cloth (made from 1/4″ metal mesh), settled into the ground surrounding the tree, is what Zeke recommends to protect young trees from girdling by hungry rodents and/or nicks from unwieldy lawn crews. You may recall my mention of wire tubes for protecting ornamental trees in winter. The construction of hardware-mesh protection for fruit trees is quite similar (click here for previous post).

Young, semi-dwarf trees should also be supported with stakes for the first couple of years (fully dwarf trees should be supported throughout their lifetimes). Be sure to use a non-binding and non-chafing sling when strapping the tree to the stakes. Never use wire or twine —which may cut through the tender, outer bark— and avoid tying twine directly around the tree. Rubber or canvas slings, secured to the stakes with twine, work well to support young trees and prevent them from toppling or rocking in the wind.

Zeke demonstrates fruit thinning on a peach tree  —to one peach every 6″ or so— and explains the importance of this technique. Failure to thin heavy crops of fruit may result in broken branches or limbs and poor fruit production the following season

When selecting young trees, buy early in the season from a reputable orchard, nursery or garden center, and always have a careful look at the entire tree, including the root zone (lift gently at the base and slide the rootball from the pot to insure a healthy, non-pot-bound tree). Also, have a look at the leaves, bark and the basic structure of the tree. Does it look healthy; free of wilted or skeletonized leaves? Avoid bringing trouble home to your garden, and once planted, keep a regular look-out for tent caterpillars and other pests by checking on your trees, and supplying water if necessary, every few days.

Zeke demonstrates how vertically-inclined branches on this pear tree are trained to a more horizontal shape through tying techniques

After fielding some pest-management questions, Zeke went on to demonstrate formative pruning and tying techniques for training young fruit trees for best production. Pollination of fruit trees by honeybees and other insects is very important, and although many fruit trees are cross-pollinated by wide variety of local, flowering trees, Zeke points out that planting fruit trees in multiple usually gives the best results in terms of fruit production. Getting young, upright trees to flower and produce  —particularly upright pear, plum and apple trees— can be a challenge. To encourage fruit production —which takes place on horizontal branches— Zeke demonstrated how vertical limbs are gently trained in a more horizontal or angled position and tied down. This technique can be used with the more upright varieties of pears, apples, plums, peaches and other fruit trees, to encourage a more horizontally-tiered shape. If you have ever trained a climbing rose to flower (using horizontal fan shape) you will be familiar with this concept. Some trees have a naturally open, horizontally-branching framework and require little tying or pruning to produce fruit. For example, the Japanese ‘Shiro’ plum (Prunus ‘Shiro’) has a lovely, open shape; making it aesthetically pleasing as an ornamental and productive as an edible. In addition to tying, Zeke explained the process of thinning apple blossoms from the average of five per cluster to one or two blossoms per cluster. What about pruning? Zeke advises that over-pruning young fruit trees is a mistake. Other than correcting tight crotch angles and removing competing leaders —or other obvious problems like rubbing or broken branches— avoid pruning fruit trees for the first few years. Later on in the life of your fruit tree, prune trees during winter dormancy to keep the shape low, open and horizontally branching, as well as to remove diseased or seasonally damaged wood.

Zeke demonstrates how he would prune this young Honey Crisp apple tree; selecting a strong, central leader and removing a competing, vertical branch

If a gardener is hoping to harvest fruit in the near future, adding a few early-to-bear peach and pear trees would be a great place to start. Walker Farm had several varieties of each on hand; including golden ‘Bartlett’ pears and north-hardy, sweet and juicy ‘Redhaven’ peaches. Zeke  discussed some of the best varieties of cherries for our area, noting that trees producing tart fruits —such as ‘Danube’ and ‘Montmorency’— do better than the sweet cherry varieties this far north. But he quickly dispelled the myth that hardy fruit trees grown locally will do better than those grown outside of this region. Because fruit tree varieties are genetically identical, and grafted upon rootstock, a tree raised in Washington (hardy to your zone) has as good a chance of survival as one grafted and raised up the road. Still, I plan to shop for fruit trees locally to take advantage of the expert advice given by lifelong farmers like Zeke Goodband and Jack Manix. An experienced, successful farmer’s words-of-wisdom —and quick wit— are worth their weight in gold.

Thank you to Zeke Goodband for an incredible seminar, and to Walker Farm for sponsoring a spring’s worth of Saturday morning gardening seminars, free to the public! (Click here for information on upcoming seminars, and register to save your seat)

To read more about Zeke Goodband & his work at Scott Farm Orchard, click here and explore my previous posts (including recipe posts).

 Autumn Apple Harvest at Scott Farm in Vermont

Heirloom Apple Treasures

And of Course, the Best Part of Fruit Trees is … Experimenting in the Kitchen with Orchard-Fresh, Heirloom Fruit! Click here for French Apple Cake Recipe 

Resources for the Home Orchard …

The Best Apples to Buy And Grow (BBG)The Best Apples to Buy and Grow (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide Beth Hanson

Growing Fruit RHS Harry BakerGrowing Fruit (RHS Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening Harry Baker

the Backyard Orchardist stella ottoThe Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden Stella Otto

The Apple Grower, Michael PhillipsThe Apple Grower: Guide for the Organic Orchardist Michael Phillips

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Sampling Sweet Heirloom Treasures … Apple Tasting at Scott Farm Orchard

October 20th, 2011 § 4

The Golden Light of Harvest Season at Scott Farm Orchard in Vermont

If a rose is a rose is a rose, does it then follow that an apple is an apple is an apple? Of course —except in the most simplistic of senses— neither statement is true. Each of these closely related species —both of which belong to the family Rosaceae— is tremendously complex; with a fascinating variety of forms, habits, flowers and fruits. Like many gardeners, I’ve long considered adding fruit trees to my landscape and many heirloom apples top the list of this most-wanted species. But with so many fruit trees to choose from, how will I decide which varieties to grow? There are apples for cooking and baking, apples for cider, jam and sauce, and there are even apples for floral arrangements, crafts and decorating. Of course, there are also oh-so-many apples perfect just for eating, and is there anything more delicious than a bite of crisp, tart apple on a cool autumn day? I decided to consult with a true, heirloom apple expert, who also happens to be a local friend …

Heirloom Apples at Sunset: Scott Farm Orchard

Earlier this month, I was invited to local, historic Scott Farm Orchard in Vermont for a private, heirloom apple tasting tour with orchard manager and apple expert, Ezekiel Goodband.  This is harvest season, and with apples to pack, cider to press, guests to greet and a farm business to run, Zeke Goodband has hardly a minute to spare. Yet my kind and knowledgable friend took time out of his very busy day to share some of his favorite heirloom fruits and bits of their fascinating histories. Below is a small sampling, and descriptions of the many treasures I took home from my stroll through gloriously beautiful Scott Farm Orchard

Black Gilliflower or Sheep’s Nose Apple: this beautifully colored, fragrant apple is one of my tasting favorites. When I took my first bite, Zeke advised me to look for the flavor of clove. And indeed, the sweet, floral flesh is followed by just a hint of spice at the end. This old, New England apple dates back to the early 1800s and it is wonderful both for cooking and baking or eating fresh, straight from the hand. I like it with a good, sharp cheddar cheese

Heirloom Winesap: amid all the green foliage and golden light, this pretty red apple really stood out in the trees. The Winesap is an American apple dating back to the early 1800s. Named for its wine-like flavor, this juicy red fruit with golden flesh is incredibly fragrant; with floral notes and a hint of spice. Tart flavor is nicely balanced with sweetness, making this a perfect choice for cooking (excellent for sauce, butter and puree), baking, cider making and eating out of hand

Lady Apples: this variety is the oldest of the heirlooms still in cultivation today. Known for their blushing, delicate beauty, clusters of Lady Apples often appear in autumn flower arrangements and wreaths. Of course I can’t imagine wasting a bite! This apple may be small, but it carries an intense, bright flavor. Try popping a couple in your pocket for a snack on your next autumn hike, or arrange slices amongst whole fruits on a platter of cheese as a beautiful appetizer

Heirloom Golden Russet Apples: this gorgeous gem from New York state dates back to the mid 1800s. The Golden Russet is crisp and flavorful; often called the ‘champagne’ of cider apples, it’s also delicious cooked in apple butter, sauce, puree and for baked goods. Rumor has it this variety makes a wonderful hard cider as well

Pinova: According to Zeke, extraordinary beauty and complex flavor makes the Pinova a favorite apple during tastings at Scott Farm. And without a doubt, an apple laden Pinova is truly a sight to behold. The photo simply can not do the color justice (and then there is the annoying lack of click-and-sniff on the screen!). Originating in Germany, this crisp apple posesses a perfect balance of tart and sweet. It’s a fine choice for baking and for eating out of hand.

Whenever I visit Scott Farm, it occurs to me that in addition to their delightful fruit value, apple trees truly are some of the most lovely ornamental plants for home gardens …

When asked about fruit trees for backyard gardens, Zeke Goodband’s first advice is to grow what you like and what you will use. Beyond peaches and pears, which Zeke recommends and sells to home gardeners, there are heirloom apple trees for sale at Scott Farm as well. Some of the more suitable backyard apple tree varieties tossed about in our conversation? The reinettes and russets were first to roll off the orchardist’s tongue, followed by some specific names; including Calville Blanc, Cox Orange Pippin, Holstein and Black Oxford. When choosing apple trees, it’s important to try many varieties of fruit and research their uses, to be sure that you select the apples you like best. Of course, when it comes to doing homework, apple tasting can hardly be considered a chore! If you happen to be traveling in Vermont this fall, I highly recommend stopping in to Scott Farm for an heirloom sampler and some delicious, fresh-pressed cider.

Below are some more of my favorite heirloom apples; chosen for beauty, unique flavor and usefulness in baking or cooking. Interested in continuing your backyard orchard research? The books listed at the bottom of this post are a good place to begin furthering your education. Many thanks again to Ezekiel Goodband at Scott Farm for sharing his time, delicious fruit and orchard expertise with The Gardener’s Eden

Good things do come in small packages: meet the Lady Apple (also pictured above in the orchard) Though she may be small, this apple is one gorgeous and delicious fruit

Another diminutive treasure, the Royal Medlar apple reminds me of winter-dried rose hips. The fruit is hard when harvested, but after “bletting” (a process of ripening off the tree, on a cool, bright table for a few weeks) these tiny apples become soft, juicy and delicious. Sweet with a hint of cinnamon, this fruit is sometimes used for jelly and is also delicious roasted, or baked; especially in pies. Royal Medlar trees are quite striking, with lovely blossoms, and make fine ornamentals in the garden

In terms of baking apples, Calville Blanc d’Hiver is a culinary favorites among the heirloom varieties. This unusually shaped, blushing, golden, 15th century French apple adds wonderful flavor to cakes and tarts, and it holds its shape and texture beautifully in a hot oven. Eaten out of hand, the flavor is both tart and sweet, with hints of spice and vanilla. If you love to bake with apples, this is one you will want in your home orchard

Ashmead’s Kernel is a delightful old English variety dating back to the 1700s. This gorgeous russet fruit is used for baked goods, cooking, eating fresh and also for both fresh pressed and hard cider. The flavor is truly exquisite; a complex ride that starts off with a kick of lemon, followed by a rush of fruity wine and finishing with lingering floral notes

Another favorite with bakers, the Belle de Boskoop apple originated in the Netherlands and is a commonly used dessert apple. The slightly tart flavor and firm, crisp texture hold up exceptionally well under heat. This variety makes fantastic apple strudel as well as other sweet treats

Books for the Would-Be, Backyard Orchardist …

The Best Apples to Buy And Grow (BBG)The Best Apples to Buy and Grow (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide Beth Hanson

Growing Fruit RHS Harry BakerGrowing Fruit (RHS Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening Harry Baker

the Backyard Orchardist stella ottoThe Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden Stella Otto

The Apple Grower, Michael PhillipsThe Apple Grower: Guide for the Organic Orchardist Michael Phillips

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Dorie Greenspan’s Simply Delicious French Cake with Heirloom Apples …

October 17th, 2011 § 7

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from Dorie Greespan’s Wonderful Book of Recipes, Around My French Table

I awoke this past Sunday morning with a kitchen full of heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard and nothing more important to do than brew a pot of coffee and bake a special birthday cake. No problem, right? Well, I suppose it would have been, were I not the easily distracted type. But of course, that’s exactly how I am. First, I noticed that the light in the garden was incredible, so I had to throw on a bathrobe and tip-toe across the lawn to take a few pictures. This inevitably led to squirrel watching, alpine strawberry picking, pumpkin collecting and hydrangea blossom gathering. Then, back inside, there was a flurry of flower arranging and spontaneous tabletop decorating. You know how one thing will lead another … 

Heirloom Fruit on the Sun-Striped Kitchen Table (iPhone Photo)

Suddenly I remembered that I needed to reschedule an afternoon appointment, and so began the emails. When I glanced up —startled by a squawking trio of blue jays as they hopped about the golden foliage outside my window— I noticed it was nearly eleven o’clock. In the modern world, this sort of behavior might be diagnosed as attention deficit disorder. I call it relaxing, and it was really quite wonderful. It’s been weeks since I’ve had an unscheduled day like this —free to follow each and every whim— and I totally loved it. When I finally settled down on my kitchen stool —leafing through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table— sunlight had warmed the tabletop, and the sweet scent of ripe fruit filled the air. What a delightful way to spend an October morning …

Beech Leaves Turning Copper (Fagus grandifolia & Tsuga canadensis)

And Blushing Hydrangea Blossoms (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)

And Blue Jays in Golden Halesia (H. tetraptera, the Mountain Silverbell)

My friend Jennifer has been raving about Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake —from Dorie Greespan’s wonderful book of recipes, Around My French Table— for nearly a year now. And just last week, Jen reminded me of Dorie’s recipe again when she happened to mention that she’d baked this delicious dessert to share with her husband on their anniversary. I love Dorie Greenspan’s books —as well as her fantastic blog, which you can visit by clicking here— and I’ve been wanting to give this recipe a try since  Around My French Table arrived on my doorstep last fall. But the cake specifically calls for four divers apples (Dorie’s French friend, Marie-Hélène’s way of saying different kinds), so I waited until autumn arrived again to try it with fresh, heirloom apples. And this weekend, with a special birthday cake to bake and Scott Farm apples in season, I finally found the perfect opportunity to use one Calville Blanc d’Hiver, one Belle de Boskoop, one Ashmead’s Kernel and one Bramley’s Seedling heirloom apple  …

Fruit in the Kitchen and Passing Showers in the Garden

I Love Looking Outside While I Play Around in the Kitchen. Sometimes, At This Time of Year,  I’ll Spot Foraging Turkey or a Red Fox on the Hunt, But Most of the Time, I just Admire the Autumn Colors …. 

Apple Cake, Ready for Baking!

Fresh from the Oven: Golden, Warm, Fragrant Apple Cake. I Wish Your Screen Could be Scratch and Sniff

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Cookbook Around My French Table

Ingredients:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
4 large heirloom apples (different kinds)
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons rum (dark)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Directions:

Set oven rack to center brackets. Preheat oven to 350° F and butter an 8 or 9 inch round, spring-form pan.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together until blended.

Peel and core four apples of different kinds, and cut them into chunks roughly 1-2″ in size.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until they foam. Slowly add sugar and whisk a bit longer until well blended. Add the vanilla and the rum and whisk some more. While continuing to whisk, slowly add half of the dry ingredients. When absorbed into the batter, add half the melted butter. Repeat until all butter and flour mixture are smooth and well blended. Slowly fold in the apples using a spatula. Be sure all apples are completely coated with bater.

Push the apple batter (it will be very thick) into the buttered pan,

Place the pan on the center rack and bake approximately one hour, checking the cake toward the end of the baking time. Remove when the top is golden brown, and when an inserted knife pulls clean from the cake.

Cool for five minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides of a pan with a butter knife. Slowly open the form and let the cake cool to room temperature before serving. You can use a spatula to release the bottom of the cake from the form, or use a wax string. Place a serving dish on top of the cake and carefully invert.

Serve with homemade whipped cream or ice cream.

A Delightfully Unusual, Autumn Birthday Cake

All Heirloom Apples in This Post are from Scott Farm Orchard, Vermont. Stay Tuned for More Heirloom Orchard Mania this Week, Including Heirloom Apples for Cooking and Eating, Unusual Fruit, and Recommended Fruit Trees for Home Gardens

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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October Orchard Dreaming …

October 8th, 2011 Comments Off

Scott Farm Orchard at Twilight with October’s Waxing Hunter Moon

Autumn is apple season in New England, and come October, there’s no place I’d rather be than in an orchard, dreaming. Lucky gal that I am, last week, Ezekiel Goodband —orchardist at Historic Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont— took time out of his very busy day to stroll through row upon row of heirloom apple trees with me; sharing some of the sweet delights of the harvest. I’ll be posting more articles and images from my autumn orchard visits over the coming weeks, but in meantime, you may want to check out previous Scott Farm Orchard posts from seasons past. For descriptions and photos of the farm and its heirloom apples, click here. And for orchard-blossom-gazing, click here for a Scott Farm photo essay from this past spring. Of course when it comes to apple orchards, the best time to visit is during the harvest season. Should you find yourself wandering through the hills of southern Vermont this fall, be sure to stop in and visit this gorgeous, historic farm for rare and exquisite heirloom fruit, delicious, fresh-pressed cider, orchard honey, sweet preserves and delightful baked goods. Scott Farm will be hosting Heirloom Apple Day this Sunday, October 9th, and free apple tastings are scheduled at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. For more information, see the Scott Farm website by clicking here.

Apple-Laden Branches: Scott Farm Orchard Contains More Than 70 Different Varieties of Ecologically Grown Heirloom Apples 

Heirloom Apple Trees at Scott Farm Orchard

Color, Fragrance, Flavor and Texture: A Stroll Through the Orchard is a Delight for All of the Senses

Vernacular Beauty: The Barns at Scott Farm

Crates Loaded with Freshly Harvested Heirloom Apples from the Hilltop Orchard at Scott Farm

Glass Windows Reflect a Gorgeous, October Sky

The Working Buildings at Historic Scott Farm Orchard in Vermont

Historic Orchard Buildings, Surrounded by Hills and Running Water …

The Orchard Provides a Perfect Setting for a Late Afternoon, Alfresco Snack

The Waxing Hunter Moon Rising Above Scott Farm at Twilight

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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A Stroll Through the Blossom-Laden Apple Trees & Petal-Strewn Paths … Scott Farm & Springtime in Vermont

May 19th, 2011 § 4

The Gardener on a Rainy Day Stroll Though the Blossom-Filled Orchard at Beautiful Scott Farm in Southern Vermont

Delicate, Pink-Tinted Heirloom Apple Blossoms Perfume the Damp Air

The Orchard and Misty Mountain View at Scott Farm

A busy, wet morning gave way to a brief window of opportunity between showers. With a list of errands and a calendar jam-packed with appointments and responsibilities, there’s little time to spare. Still, the moment of spring is brief, and I couldn’t resist the siren song of a favorite place, calling to me from the shrouded hills above the highway. Make time, she whispered, make time…

Scott Farm Orchard. A spontaneous stroll through petal-strewn, verdant paths in May. Fog and mist draped hills, heavy air perfumed by heavenly-scented apple blossoms; this orchard is a magical place in any season, but I find it particularly enchanting in the vernal {and later, autumnal} months. And so, showered by sparkling raindrops and cascading flower petals, I found myself lost for a blissful hour in springtime’s sweet, seductive company…

Peak Beauty: Pink Buds and Fragrant Flowers Still Bloom Amongst Fallen Petals

Apple Petal Puddles

Pink-Tinted Perfection

Some readers may recall my previous post on historic Scott Farm in autumn, with photographs of orchardist Ezekiel Goodband’s heirloom apples along side his historic and poetic descriptions of their origin, color, fragrance and flavor. Later used in a slide show and article on heirloom apples, “What’s Driving Our Favorite Fruit Into Decline”, written by Gary Nabhan for Grist.com (click here to visit Grist), the story “Original Sin?…” remains one of the most popular posts on this blog. I’ll be writing more about heirloom fruit, apple trees and Scott Farm in the coming weeks, but for now, enjoy the simple beauty of this wonderfully magical place on a rainy day in May…

Apple Orchards are Beautifully Fragrant in Springtime, and Again in Autumn, When Fruit Hangs Ripe and Blushing on the Trees

Peeking Through the Branches into a Magical Forest of Blossoms

Busy Bees Work the Trees, Devoted to the Work of Their Alchemy

And the Gardener Pauses to Appreciate and Give Thanks to Her Muse…

***

Special thanks to Zeke Goodband for allowing me beyond the magical orchard gate at Scott Farm

Photos of Michaela for The Gardener’s Eden by W.B.

Article and all Other Photographs ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced or reposted without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

The Gardener’s Eden received no compensation, of any kind, for editorial mention of any businesses or products in this post.

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links here (including Amazon.com book links and Terrain Garden & Home). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Holiday Brunch from the Kitchen Garden and Local Orchard…

November 28th, 2009 § 1

Heirloom Lady Apple and Yukon Gold Potato Fry…

Anticipation is in the air. Twinkling lights. Aromatic, evergreen boughs. Crackling fires. Stories. There are so many simple things to love about the coming holiday season and winter months. For me, late morning breakfasts always top the December weekend-pleasures list. After a busy year, doesn’t it feel luxurious to enjoy a leisurely morning at the sun drenched table, sipping coffee and lingering over scattered newspapers? Or better yet, how about a half day spent sprawled out upon the king size bed with a tray of warm pastries and a pot of steaming tea?  Oh, the delights of the quiet season ahead. And while it is certainly a feast made for lovers, brunch is also a fun meal to share with family and friends during the holiday season.

This is the time of year when I begin to pull out my favorite, dog-eared cookbooks, returning to the eagerly anticipated smells of homemade brunch. Although there are many fine culinary titles collecting dust on my shelves, there is one that never needs brushing off – Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book Marion’s delightful little collection of recipes has long been my secret, brunch-weapon. French toast, eggs, waffles, potatoes, muffins, cakes; Marion has included everything your heart could possibly desire. She even has a brunch-defining recipe called the ‘Sunday loaf’. Exactly what I was thinking Marion – exactly.

Late last night before turning in, I boiled some homegrown Yukon gold potatoes to enjoy in my own, modified version of Marion’s ‘Apple Potato Fry’ this morning. I have altered the recipe a bit to include sweet onion from my kitchen garden and heirloom lady apples, (see photo notes below), from local Scott Farm Orchard. When I got up today, I simply fried the potatoes, added fresh diced apples, a bit of onion, and cooked it for a few minutes while I stoked the fire. When done, I topped the whole thing off with fried eggs and farm-fresh sour cream. It was pretty much heaven –  and since this is the season of giving, I felt I should let you in on it….

Lady Apple (Pomme d' Api, or Roman)Beautiful heirloom Lady Apples, (Pomme d’ Api) – tiny and tart-sweet, these citron-green apples with a rosy blush are delightful to cook with, eat fresh, or enjoy in holiday decorations such as wreaths…

Pan Fried Yukon Gold Potatoes with Heirloom Lady Apples

Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Potato Apple Fry, in The Breakfast Book

.

6    Heirloom Lady Apples, (or 3 regular sized tart apples such as Pippin or Granny Smith)

5    Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4    Tablespoons fresh butter

3    Tablespoons vegetable oil

12  Small or 6 medium sized left-over, or freshly boiled and dried Yukon Gold potatoes, (or new red potatoes)

1     Small sweet onion, (such as Vidalia)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

6     Tablespoons fresh, whole-milk sour cream, (or whole Greek Yogurt)

Wash, core and dice the heirloom Lady apples, (about 1/8-1/4″ thick). I leave the skin on for color and flavor. Place apples into a small bowl, tossing with lemon juice. Set aside.

Peel and chop the sweet onion, medium dice.

In a small skillet, heat 1 table spoon of vegetable oil over low heat. Raise the burner temp. to medium, add the onion and cook until translucent, (about 5-7 minutes). Remove onion to a plate and set aside.

In a large skillet, (one with a lid), heat the butter and remaining oil over low heat. Meanwhile, cut up the left-over potatoes into 1/8-1/4″ dice, (or use freshly boiled potatoes, patted dry). I always leave the peels on my boiled potatoes for vitamins and texture, (I simply wash and scrub them clean before cooking). As you turn the burner up to medium, slowly add the potatoes, spreading them evenly in the skillet. Add salt and pepper. Cook potatoes on one side until crispy and brown, (5 minutes), turn and brown again, (another 5 or so).

Drain the lemon juice from the apples and pat them dry. When potatoes are a crisp, even, golden brown, add the apples and toss well. Cover with a lid and cook over high heat for two two to three minutes. Uncover, stir and add sweet onion.  Cook uncovered for a few more minutes.

Remove to a serving platter and serve hot with fresh sour cream.

Lady apples diced upLady Apples diced up…

Yukon gold potatoes in panYukon gold potatoes, pan frying to a crispy, warm brown…

Heirloom Lady Apple and Yukon Gold Potato FryLady apples added to the browned Yukon gold potatoes…

Potato Apple Fry with Egg Over-EasyHeirloom lady apple and Yukon gold potato fry with an egg, cooked over-easy, and a dollop of fresh sour cream…

Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used for any purpose without express written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Thank you.

In a Golden Orchard, Dreaming …

November 13th, 2009 § 2

Stowe Mt. Orchard November, closer shotA 100-hundred-year-old orchard in Vermont, with restoration pruning

Stowe Mt. Orchard Lower PocketThe un-restored lower section of the same orchard …

Lovely place for an afternoon stroll, isn’t it? Yesterday I found myself with an extra hour of time around sunset, and I decided to go for a walk in this old apple grove surrounded by golden fields near my home. The light was low and hazy, and the red and yellow apples shone brightly against the grey bark of the trees. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be involved in the restoration of this beautiful orchard, and the project re-ignited apple growing dreams of my own…

The orchard pictured above is not a working fruit farm, it is simply part of a lovely old farmhouse estate in southern Vermont. Although the original owners certainly grew, and perhaps sold fruit or cider at one time, the orchard never operated as a serious commercial enterprise. Planted professionally more than one hundred years ago, these trees were always part of a private grove. Many years ago, small orchards like this one were commonplace, and most old farmsteads in New England still have a few craggy fruit trees scattered about. The trees on this property do bear some apples, (mostly enjoyed by local deer), however, the goal of the current owners has always been to preserve the history and beauty of this place, not to grow fruit…

Stowe Mountain Orchard Lost Forest FruitStowe Mountain Orchard: Lost Forest Fruit

I am just beginning the practical planning stages involved in realizing my orchard dream. In the northern parts of the United States and Canada, (USDA zone 8 and colder), the best time to plant fruit trees is in the spring. With this in mind, it makes sense to plot and prepare a planting site in fall. Whether you are toying with the idea of a couple of apple trees, or considering a larger home orchard filled with peaches, plums and pears, now is a good time to think about the best location for those trees and to test and amend the soil for spring planting.

A well-planned orchard can produce fruit for at least one hundred years. With this in mind, selecting a permanent site for fruit trees is very important. The first steps in planning a home orchard are to research what kinds of fruit trees do well in your area, and to decide what varieties you would like to grow. This will help you to determine how much space you need to allow for your trees and for the service areas in your planting plan. The distance between individual trees is dependent upon the cultivars grown. Many dwarf fruit trees are available to home gardeners, and they are a good choice if you have a small yard. Of course it goes without saying that fruit trees must be planted in full sun. Trees planted too closely will shade one another, reducing crop yield on the lower branches. Some other key factors amongst the many to be considered include air drainage on the property, cross pollination and coordinated bloom time, and all-important soil chemistry and structure. Honey bee hives may play a role in my future orchard, so I will be researching this topic as well.

In the early stages of preparing for my home orchard, as much of the work will be done beside the fire as will be accomplished with a tractor. At this stage, a significant amount of research and study is involved. In addition to consulting with local experts, I will be reviewing a few favorite titles in my horticultural library. If you, or someone you know is interested in growing fruit, the books below offer excellent information and guidance. I love the idea of an ornamental grove  on my property that also produces delicious food for my table. So I will be cozying up with some books beside the fire over the coming weeks while I continue to dream of a golden orchard all my own…

If you are considering growing apple or other fruit trees, it’s a good idea to educate yourself. The following books are all available, (click title for link to Amazon.com), in paperback. All of these titles are under $30, and three are under $20…

The Best Apples to Buy And Grow (BBG)

The Best Apples to Buy and Grow (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide)
Beth Hanson

Growing Fruit RHS Harry Baker

Growing Fruit (RHS Encyclopedia of Practical Gardening)
Harry Baker

the Backyard Orchardist stella otto

The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden
Stella Otto

The Apple Grower, Michael Phillips

The Apple Grower: Guide for the Organic Orchardist
Michael Phillips

Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’ Eden

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams …

Grey and Chilly? Got the Autumn Blues? Spice Up Your Afternoon with Hot Mulled Apple Cider, Or Spike It Up Come Evening If You Choose …

November 12th, 2009 § 4

A cup of hot, mulled apple cider, garnished with a stick of cinnamon and a slice of orange, studded with fragrant clove…

It’s the middle of November now, and there’s a sharp nip in the air by late afternoon. The sky is often streaked with slate colored clouds, and the sun, when it makes an appearance, slips away early on the western horizon. Naked trees shiver in the wind as I huddle inside my downy jacket, tending to late autumn chores in the garden. I can feel Winter’s icy breath as she whispers, “prepare“…

Well, hold back solemn Winter – I am still scrambling to get things done. The firewood is only half stacked and the Secret Garden still needs mulching. I have orchards to plan and stumps to pull and ditches to clear in the driveway. Hold back stark friend, there are still Autumn moments to savor. There are wild berry branches to gather and pine cones to pick up. The late auburn beauty of November still paints the forest, and bonfires warm our chilly toes as we gaze upon inky skies filled with stars…

Pause now. Revel in the pleasures of this season before we rush to the next.

Yesterday, I stole a quiet moment with Autumn on the back terrace. As I sipped my spicy, mulled cider and savored the warm patch of sunlight, I knew I must share the recipe with all of you here. Simmer a cup or a pot of apple cider on the stove and breathe in the fragrance. Steep rich mulling spices in your drink and enjoy the aroma of the season. Come night-fall, the rum-spiked version of this classic recipe makes for a memorable evening beside a crackling wood stove…

Slow down for a spell and drink up the last drops of Autumn while you can…

mulling spices ingredients and cider in sun horizontalMulling Spices and Heirloom Apple Cider from Scott Farm, Vermont…

Hot Mulled Cider

And Mulling Spice Recipe for Mulled Wine or Hot Spiked Cider

(makes sachets for 4 big, spicy mugs, or 1 large bag for a 1/2 gallon of cider. Divide evenly for single servings, or multiply evenly for larger gatherings)

8 whole cardamon pods, split open

8 whole cloves, (plus extra for orange-garnish)

8 whole cinnamon sticks, (plus more for garnishing each cup)

4 teaspoons freshly ground allspice

4 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg

4 teaspoons fresh grated orange peel

1 orange, cut into slices for garnish

4 muslin or cheesecloth bags for 4 large mugs or 1 large bag for 1 quart pot of cider

1/2 gallon of fresh heirloom apple cider, (I bought mine from local Scott Farm)

Crack open cardamon pods and and muddle lightly with the back of a wooden spoon or pestle. Place all spices in a large muslin or cheesecloth bag, or evenly divide all spices into four bags.* Tie the bag tightly and toss into a large pot with 1/2 gallon of fresh cider. For single servings, use a small sauce pot. Turn on the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Simmer on low – DO NOT BOIL. In the meantime, create one orange slice garnish per serving, (or to float in serving bowl), by imbedding several cloves in each slice. Place extra cinnamon sticks, (one per serving), in each cup. Remove mulled cider from heat and extract the spice sack. Pour cider into cups or bowl and garnish with orange/clove slices. Serve hot.

*This recipe is a heady mix. For a more subtle blend, increase cider ratio or reduce spice quantities to taste. I like a lot of spice in my life…

Hot Spiked Cider

After simmering the 1/2 gallon of cider and spices for 15 minutes, add 1 1/2 cups of golden Puerto Rican rum to the pot. Simmer for 5 more minutes and continue to prepare as above.

Mulled Red Wine

This is also an excellent spice recipe for mulled red wine. Choose an inexpensive, dry red wine, (such as a Cabernet Sauvignon). Ratio should be approximately the same: 1/2 gallon of wine per bag of mulling spices.

Cheers!

Mulle Cider cinnamon stick, cardamon, cloves

Mulled Cider grated orange peel

Mulled Cider spice sack filled and tied

Photography and Text ⓒ 2009, Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Rustic, Heirloom Apple Squares: A Recipe and Sweet Autumn Memory…

November 10th, 2009 § 6

Heirloom Apple Squares Aletha Soule plate (one)

Heirloom Apples for Apple Squares

Served warm with a cup of steaming tea, apple squares can bring back a rush of sweet memories for me. When I was a little girl, my third grade teacher always made homemade goodies for special events and bake sales. Margaret was a lovely woman; plump and grandmotherly and generous. She was my favorite teacher, and I brought her bouquets of sunflowers from my mother’s garden just to see her smile. As a child, I had a very difficult time learning to read. I made agonizingly slow progress, but Margaret stuck by me through my stammering and stuttering, proving my greatest champion and cheerleader. During recess I would often stay behind, sitting beside her while she ate her lunch, reading out loud from whatever book I chose. This was definitely not in her job description, but I am quite sure she didn’t have that document memorized. Usually, at the end of my private tutoring, I received a homemade treat from her lunch bag. Sometimes it was a cookie or a brownie, but one day in late autumn, it was an apple square. I had never tasted one before – it was moist and sweet and delicious. The heirloom apples came from a big, old tree in Margaret’s back yard. Of course, when she saw how much I liked the apple squares, they began to appear in her lunch box more frequently.

Many years passed, and although I never forgot Margaret, (I did surprise her on occasion with a bouquet of sunflowers), the ritual of afternoon apple squares somehow got away from me. Then, late this summer, my friend Rhonda sent a box of homemade ‘apple brownies’ to me. When I peeked inside, I immediately recognized my favorite third-grade treat. What Rhonda calls ‘apple brownies’, I call ‘apple squares’. Well, you can call them whatever you like – they are absolutely delicious. Because this recipe is so simple, the flavor of the apples takes center stage. With Margaret’s old tree in mind, I tried a combination of tart and sweet reinettes, (heirloom apples from Scott Farm), for my version of this treat. If heirloom apples are not available, any tart apple, (such as Granny Smith), will work for this recipe. Instead of peeling them, I left the skin on for color and texture, as Margaret did years ago. They are so quick and easy to make, how could I have forgotten about them? Thank you Rhonda, for bringing back such sweet autumn memories…

Rustic Heirloom Apple Squares

(adapted from Rhonda Canning’s apple brownies)

4       cups of tart heirloom apples, diced, (peels on for a more rustic effect)

1 +     cups sugar (add more to taste, I prefer mine less sweet)

4        average size eggs

1        cup melted butter

2       cups all purpose flour

2       tsp baking powder

1/2     tsp salt*

1         tsp freshly ground cinnamon

1         tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9 x 13″ baking dish. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. (* if you are using salted butter, you may reduce or eliminate salt. I use unsalted, sweet farm butter). Combine melted butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add apples to this large bowl and stir together with the buttery mix. Add dry ingredients, slowly stirring as you go. The mixture will get quite thick. When the ingredients are throughly blended, pour into the greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. To test, the top should appear golden brown and a wooden stick should pull out clean from the center.

Allow the pan to cool, then cover and let sit for a couple of hours. The apple squares will become super moist, and they taste best when allowed to rest for 2-3 hours before eating….

Heirloom Apples diced up for squares

Heirloom Apple Squares Mix

Heirloom Apple Squares in pan

Scott Farm Apple on Tree

(In loving memory of my favorite teacher, Margaret E. Booker)

***

Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

Gunmetal glaze plate featured in top photo by Aletha Soule.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express permission. Inspired by something you see here? It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

***

Original Sin? Getting My Fill of Old World Temptations and Pleasures in the Apple Orchard at Scott Farm…

November 9th, 2009 § 10

Heirloom apples from Scott Farm, Vermont

Apples. They certainly are beautiful and tempting. But sinful? Hardly. Although, to tell the truth, I’ve always had a secret, flirtatious ‘thing’ for orchards. Maybe it all started with those stories about wickedness and pleasure in the Garden of Eden. You know, forbidden fruit and all that? Who knows how my mind works. All I can tell you is that somewhere along the line apple groves became mighty seductive to me. And I suspect I am not alone. Old orchards are just plain romantic, and heirloom apples are as alluring as a fruit can get.

I grew up around orchards, and some of my earliest memories are of apple-blossom petal-blizzards and the sweet, earthy smell of mashed fruit wafting from the cider house up the hill. As a child, I remember being held up to a tree and plucking shiny, red fruit from the branches while the old orchard-keeper’s brown, leathery hands held me safe and secure. Later on, I lured my suitors to the orchard on ‘picnics’, where we would spread out a blanket and gaze at the moonrise or watch the Fourth of July fireworks in the valley below. And although none of those romances worked out, my love affair with the orchard is still going strong…

Apple orchards are invariably beautiful. Positioned at high altitudes to take advantage of air flow on chilly nights at either end of the growing season, most orchards have spectacular views. New England is well known for its beautiful fruit farms, however Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, is quite simply the prettiest apple orchard I have ever seen. You may know it too, even if you live far away, because Scott farm was used as the main set location for the 1999 film, The Cider House Rules, based on John Irving’s novel of the same name. Lucky for me, this glorious place is just a short drive from my house…

Scott Farm belongs to the Landmark Trust USA, an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic places. It is a 626 acre property inclusive of the 571 acre historic orchard and buildings pictured here. Some of the buildings on the large property, including the Dutton Farmhouse overlooking Scott Farm, and Naulakha, (Rudyard Kipling’s former home), and Scott Farm Sugarhouse are available for holiday rental, or in the case of the larger spaces, for gatherings such as conferences and weddings.

Scott Farm itself is a working, for-profit business. In cultivation since 1791, the farm is listed on the National Register of Historic places. Zeke Goodband manages the orchard, and how fortunate for Scott Farm, for there is no finer orchard keeper, and no one more knowledgeable about heirloom apples. When Zeke first arrived at Scott Farm, McIntosh apples made up nearly 100% of the orchard. Today, the farm harvests many kinds of fruit, and more than 70 varieties of unusual apples; most of them heirlooms grafted from Zeke’s own, personal collection of cuttings gathered from throughout New England. The apples at Scott Farm are all certified, ecologically raised and hand picked beginning in August and continuing through early November. In addition to growing and selling apples, other fruit and orchard products, the farm also offers fruit trees and lilacs for sale in spring and it conducts annual pruning and grafting workshops.

I thought I was passionate about plants, but what I am discovering now is a another deeper, and far more intense level of hortimania – the world of the heirloom apple collector. With so many beautiful trees and bushel upon bushel of fragrant, mouthwatering fruit – it’s hard not to consider planting a small orchard of my own. Perched on a 1800′ hilltop, my property has a protected, easterly facing slope. I am at once excited and frightened by the possibilities racing through my mind. Yes orchards are beautiful, but raising apples is not for the faint of heart; there are deer, there are insect pests, and there are diseases. And as if that’s not enough, every few years apple crops are wiped out by late frosts – delicate blossoms nipped in the bud.

Still, in spite of the obstacles, there is the siren song. The temptation. Orleans Reinette; Blue Pearmain; Belle de Boskoop; Ananas Reinette; Black Gilliflower; Wolf River… the list goes on and on. Have a look at the possibilities. Do you grow heirloom apples, or are you thinking of planting a few fruit trees of your own? I am certainly considering a small orchard, and I couldn’t keep it under wraps. So I will take you along with me on the apple tour this week. They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple. But I don’t think she needed to do much persuading if she was holding one of these heirloom beauties in her hands…

Hudson’s Golden Gem is an American apple from the early 1900’s, grown from a chance seedling. This variety has crisp, sweet flesh with a slight, ripe-pear flavor. The color is extraordinary…

Blue Pearmain is a New England apple from 1700’s. It is excellent for baking or for eating fresh. Henry David Thoreau wrote about this, one of his favorite apples, in his journals…

Ananas Reinette is an apple first grown in France in the 1500’s. Small and yellow-skinned, it has a hint of pineapple and zesty citrus to its tender flesh. This beautiful apple is suitable for baking or just for eating as a snack…

Black Gilliflower apples are another old New England variety. This apple has an intense aroma, it is a traditional and favorite cooking apple…

Calville Blanc d’Hiver is a French apple with a long history dating back to the 15th century. It has a sweet, bright flavor, reminiscent of champagne. This is one of the best French cooking apples as it maintains an excellent texture in baked goods…

Wolf River is originally from Wisconsin, but it quickly became a popular baking apple in New England, where it was once widely grown. This apple dates back to the mid 1800’s, and is excellent in pies and other baked goods…

Orleans Reinette is a gorgeous apple. This beauty has been grown in France for hundreds of years. An excellent cooking apple, the flavor of this apple is citrus-like, with a rich nuttiness…

This popular heirloom apple dates back to 1803 in Nottinghamshire, England. Bramley’s seedling is an excellent choice for baking, and it is frequently used in pies and crisps…

Belle de Boskoop is the tart flavored fruit used in authentic apple strudel. It comes from the Netherlands…

Zabergau Reinette comes from the Zaber River region of Germany. This apple is used in baking, cooking and sauces, as well as for eating…

Historic, culinary and varietal information is courtesy of Zeke Goodband at Scott Farm Orchard, Vermont

Stay tuned for more apple-mania this week. In the meantime, here are some tasty links:

Some Delicious Heirloom – Apple Recipe Links…

Appelschnitte, (apple pastry w/ iced sheeps milk) at Chocolate and Zucchini (Uses Boskoop and Reinette apples)

Tarte Tatin with Salted Butter Caramel, also at Chocolate and Zucchini

Chocolate and Zucchini is a lovely food blog written by Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier. In addition to being a great recipe source, it is also well written and a good read.

Photographs & excerpts from this photo have been reprinted, with permission, by Grist.org. Click here for the story.

Article and photographs copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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