“To create the apple pie from scratch, one must first create the universe.” ~ Carl Sagan

applesBy Pam Denholm

He also believed, and I’m paraphrasing a great deal, that a large number of extraterrestrial civilizations would form, but the lack of evidence of such civilizations highlighted by the Fermi Paradox suggests that technological civilizations tend to self destruct. I translate both the above introduction and his headlined quote to suggest that we would do well to keep things simple, remember and honor our roots, and bear in mind that for something as casual and elegant as an apple pie, we need many agricultural resources and the good earth to provide them. I think I would have liked to have coffee with this man. Based on this premise, I thought I would begin with the orchards, so let’s have a look at some of the great pie varieties we hope to see this fall.

Macintosh (Simple, Sweet) – The McIntosh style is typified by attractive dark red or (more often) crimson colors, and a crunchy bite, often with bright white flesh. The flavor is simple and direct, generally sweet but with refreshing acidity, and usually a hint of wine – often referred to as “vinous”. In general these apples keep reasonably well in store, but the flavor falls away quite rapidly – although remaining perfectly pleasant.

Honeycrisp (The King of Apples) – The flavor is sweet with very little trace of acidity and little depth or complexity. There can also be a trace of pear-drop flavor. As its name suggests this is genuinely a crisp / crunchy apple. Great for dessert. The honeycrisp has earned the nickname “King of Apples” because of the consumer demand and size of this apple. Consumers go nuts for the Honeycrisp. Demand is always high which means the price of the honeycrisp is usually always more than any of the other varieties.

Gala (Sweet & Pleasant) – Apple purists tend to dismiss supermarket varieties of the Gala as bland and boring, often with good reason. However, anyone fortunate enough to have tried a Gala straight from the local orchard will know that it has a surprisingly punchy sweet flavour, not found in supermarket specimens. In freshly-picked its sweetness has a pear-like quality making it a wonderful desert pie.

Ginger Gold (Sharp & Sweet) – Discovered as a chance seedling growing near a Golden Delicious orchard in Virginia in the 1960s. The color, shape, and distinctive long stalkall identify it as a relation of Golden Delicious, yet it has a much earlier season – ripening in mid/late August. Unusually for an early apple, but again reflecting a Golden Delicious parentage, it is a good keeper and will last several weeks in the fridge. The flavor is fairly mild, and a bit sharper than Golden Delicious but still sweet for an early variety. It is equally good for eating fresh or processing. Ginger Gold is generally considered one of the best early-season apples offering a deep well rounded flavor when baked.

Cortland (Crisp & Sweet) – A good all-purpose apple that is slow to turn brown and therefore popular in salads and other fresh preparations. It is a descendant of the Macintosh and Ben Davis apples, and can also brag about the Suncrisp apple for successful offspring. Bright red with dark streaks and sometimes a green blush, slice and pair with savory dips and cheeses or let it really shine baked into cakes and tarts.