When we encounter a tree dripping, fruit straight from hand to mouth is almost as irresistible as our desire to fill a bushel basket. The popular autumn harvest long ago evolved into a celebration, marking the end of a prosperous planting season while providing enough sweet fruit for the duration of a long winter to come. Even for commercial purposes, apples are still picked by hand, just as they were hundreds of years ago. Orchards like these at Maple Lawn Farms, in New Park, Pa., offer guests firsthand harvesting experience, a chance to fill their own crates, baskets, or bags. Here the fields flourish with antique varieties like the ‘Bisby Red’ featured on these pages, as well as newer types, like ‘Empire’, ‘Jonnee’, and ‘MacSpur’. The stresses of the week seem a world away on the farm, where there are no long lines to wait in and kids are free to roam and play. Even the youngest of helpers can get in on the action. Spend the morning scouting your favorite varieties, filling containers with flavorful, russe t-freckled fruits, and then enjoy a leisurely picnic under the trees before taking your bounty home to bake, preserve, or share with family, friends, and neighbors.
“So many of our guests are those who remember coming to the farms as kids,” says Maple Lawn Farms’ Gail McPherson. “Now they bring their own children.” This page, clockwise from top left: After a hard day’s work, indulge in a lunch on the lawn–laze under the trees in their fragrant breeze and a nap is sure to follow. Build a leaning tower of apples. A child gets in on the fun, picking (above) and playing a game of chase (below) between the trees. A carrier packed with sandwiches, spreads, and condiments that celebrate the harvest make the outing more of an occasion. Through the branches, a girl finds the apple of her eye. Hit the farm stand to stock up on apple butter, preserves, fritters, jellies, and bushel after bushel of possibilities.
FENNEL AND APPLE COLESLAW
MAKES ABOUT 8 CUPS
4 cups shredded red cabbage
(about 1/2 head)
1 1/2 cups shredded fennel (about
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1
2 ‘Granny Smith’ apples, cut
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons apple-cider
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black
clockwise from above: Shredded red cabbage and fennel pair with apples in tangy, crisp coleslaw on a smoked-ham sandwich. Other ideas include making a batch of our Cider Doughnuts with a sweet coating of glistening cinnamon sugar (see page 159 for recipe) or a creamy cider caramel dip for a luscious treat.
Make the slaw: Combine the cabbage, fennel, onion, and apples in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to distribute dressing evenly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Nutrition information per 1/2-cup serving–protein: 1.3 g; fat: 9.5 g; carbohydrate: 11.4 g; fiber: 2.7 g; sodium: 198 mg; cholesterol: 9.6 mg; calories: 129.
APPLE-CIDER CARAMEL DIP
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
4 cups apple cider
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Make the dip: Combine the cider and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over high heat and reduce to 1 cup–about 30 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the mixture turns a deep amber–about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and stir in butter and cream. Serve at room temperature.
Nutrition information per tablespoon–protein: 0; fat: 1.1 g; carbohydrate: 10.3 g; fiber: 0; sodium: .62 mg; cholesterol: 3.2 mg; calories: 49.6.
ICED APPLE COOKIES
MAKES ABOUT 15 FOUR-INCH COOKIES
2 CUPS all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/3 Cups light brown sugar,
3/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalt
1 large egg
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 Cup raisins
1 cup chopped ‘Red Delicious’ apple
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Clockwise from left: Pack a tin of oversized apple-glazed cookies (see recipe, below) for all your hungry helpers. Reach high for a Jewel; a good tug might fetch enough fruit for a fresh-baked pie or tart. Spice up just-pressed cider with cinnamon sticks and cloves to sweeten the memories of a well-spent day.
1 Make the batter: Preheat oven to 350[degrees]F. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Cream the sugar and [3/4] cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the pecans, raisins, apples, and [1/4] cup apple cider.
2 Bake the cookies: Drop by heaping tablespoon, 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten each mound slightly and bake–18 to 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
3 In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, remaining cider, and butter until smooth. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of icing over each cookie. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Nutrition information per cookie–protein: 3.3 g; fat: 16.7 g; carbohydrate: 46.9 g; fiber: 1.6 g; sodium: 173 mg; cholesterol: 43.2 mg; calories: 340.