Crunchy, sweet, tart, crisp, tangy, floral, sour, sticky, green, burgundy, pink, yellow. The list goes on in how one could describe an apple. Harnessing our five senses we see, taste, touch smell, and if they’re not mealy, ‘hear’ the apples as we take that first bite.
Apples become the object of our affection here in Minnesota, once Labor Day has passed and the leaves start to turn.
“Which one is the best?” I get asked this all the time working in produce. The answer is not so simple.
Here’s a rundown on the local apples available right now…
If you have a sweet tooth, the SweetTango and Zestar are your best friends – both large and crunchy. The Zestar’s sweetness level according to one customer is, “Good enough to eat half the apple today and the other half tomorrow.” As for the SweetTango, a little sassy twang comes out in the aftertaste that gives it the attitude Zestar lacks. Both of these apples are not recommended for baking as their sweetness level tends to leave them a mushy mess between the pie shells.
Williams-Pride, Paula Red and Cortland are also frequenting the shelves. I tasted Paula Red at the State Fair this year. It tasted very similar to the later season Regent apples, which with their crunchy sweetness and white flesh they are great for both eating and baking. In fact, Williams-Pride and the Cortland are perfect baking apples as both cook down well and retain flavor, moisture and mix well with the spices.
Last, but definitely not the least is our state apple, the Honeycrisp. The local Honeycrisp will make their debut the end of September, followed by a whole slew of other apple varieties such as; the Sweet 16, Snowsweet, Haralson and McIntosh. With its juicy, crunchy, crisp texture and unpredictable, yet sweetly satisfying flavor, it wins as the best eating apple.
I was able to talk my Grandmother into sharing her delicious and easy Apple Butter recipe. The recipe originates from my Great-great Aunt, but Grandma said she’s made some changes as every generation has to add their spin.
(Marion Rova’s) APPLE BUTTER
7 pounds of apples (16 cups smooth sauce)
Brown sugar – to taste – beginning with 1-2 cups (Depending on kind of apples & personal taste for sweetness)
1 cup of apple cider – natural sweetener
2 T. of cinnamon
Wash apples, cut into halves & quarters. There is no need to peel or core.
Cook apples until soft. Press through sieve – not all at once, but in smaller amounts, until all are pressed through sieve. (wondering what the heck a ‘sieve’ is click for def.)
Add remaining ingredients & put in a large crock pot, cook on low 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
When mixture is consistency of thick sauce (or what you want for apple butter), ladle into hot 1/2 pint or pint jars, add lids & rings & process for 10 minutes according to canning directions.
Makes 5 quarts
If your interested in picking your own apples and supporting a local (USDA and/or MOSA certified) organic orchard. Below are links to some family-owned orchards that Mississippi Market either buys from or have been recommended by customers, other local farmers and friends.