Apples are a big crop in my region, with orchards blanketing the hillsides south of the city. Picking is a seasonal ritual that keeps us city folk tied to the land, in some marginal way, at least. We can drive out to the farms, ride a tractor into the fields, and feel a part of things. I swear it used to be a hay ride into the orchards, but somewhere along the way, they switched to empty carts behind a tractor. Too many allergy complaints, I wonder?
We went to the big farm, the Apple Empire, not because their apples are any better, but rather for the sheer expansiveness of the orchards. Apples for miles and miles and miles. Of course with this beautiful weather, it was a madhouse. Sheriffs were out directing traffic, and the gift shop so crowded one could barely move. We picked Macs, but ventured into the shop for honey crisps, cider, and donuts. I should have got some cheese curds, too.
Apparently honey crisps are a relatively new variety in these parts, and pick-your-own orchards aren't available yet. I suspect the professionals are gentler on the trees than us weekenders. I couldn't believe what some of the kids were getting away with out in the orchards: throwing apples, breaking branches, and running roughshod. My parents would never have tolerated such destructive behavior. Anyway, we sampled the honey crisps last time we were at the Apple Empire, and they are definitely tasty.
So I'll be eating a lot of apples in the next few days. I don't usually cook anything with them, just crunch them up fresh. What do you do with your apples? Any good recipes I should try?