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Apples and Beets: A Great Combo!

November 19th, 2015, by Lisa

We’re really running out of things here at the farm, but what we have a nice supply of yet is Gold Rush apples and NSO Rainbow Beets.

So, I thought….well, surely we can come up with a bunch of beet and apple recipes. Sure enough, with the help of Google, I found a lot of them. Looks like I’ll be trying some new dishes real soon – some of these sound awesome! Give them a go and let us know what you think!

Gold RushThis Beet-Apple Mash is so awesome straight-up, that you can save all your fats and sugar imbibing for dessert!

How about pizza? Anything with pizza in the name has to be good – try Beet, Cheddar, Apple Pizza!

Then there’s the beautiful and very holiday-season-looking Apple Beet soup.

This different take on cranberry sauce, combining cranberries, apples, beets, brown sugar, and ginger will leave the gang yelling for more!

So, there’s a few ideas to whet your creative and gustatory appetite for a nice apple and beet combo. Need more ideas? Check out some of the lovely and tasty-sounding ideas here on Yummly.

Give the Gift of Fruit!

November 5th, 2015, by Stephanie

jar giftsNow that we have entered into November and have (hopefully) turned our clocks back, I think it’s safe to talk about THE HOLIDAYS! Thanksgiving, St. Nick’s, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, whichever you celebrate- NSO has great gift giving options for you! We live in a time where most people have way too much stuff, which can make gift giving a bit difficult. However, everyone still needs to eat and edible gifts only take up space until they get consumed. Sounds like a win- win to me!

Whether you are looking for a host/hostess gift to bring to a party, the gift for the person who has everything, or just simple stocking stuffers, we have plenty of options available. Jarred goods like Asian Pear Butter, Cider Applesauce, or Apple Butter are great to bring to a party (who needs cranberry sauce?), wrap up as a thank you, or make your own holiday care package/gift basket.

ciderAsian pear or apple cider are always a nice addition to any gathering as well. Wine might be the typical offering to a party host or hostess but why not spice things up (literally!) with some cider that can be mulled with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg? The house will smell like the holidays and you can keep warm too! Or the cider can be frozen and enjoyed all winter long.

gold rush fridgeWhile I know some people traditionally put oranges in their holiday stockings, locally grown apples and Asian pears would make a tasty alternative. Bulk bags of Gold Rush also make a wonderful gift that can be enjoyed for several months, long after the parties have ended. I know all of my family members are getting Gold Rush whether they like it (who wouldn’t?) or not! And, for those who make healthy living New Year’s resolutions, 20 pounds of apples seems like the perfect way to start!

Order your stash of Gold Rush apples or Gold Rush varietal cider here…. after you make up your gift list, of course!

Farmer Ike’s Pick of the Week: Gold Rush!

October 30th, 2015, by Lisa

Gold Rush
There may not be much more to be said about Gold Rush that you don’t know already, but we’ll give it a try with a bit of interesting history….

Gold Rush is a variety out of the Purdue Rutgers apple breeding program (using natural plant sex methods, NOT GMOs!).

The breeder decided to discard Gold Rush because it ripens too late in the season, so most growers would not be able to deal with it.

However, the assistant to the breeder loved the apple and, using buds from the original tree, saved Gold Rush from the dump heap!

Over time, more and more people discovered and fell in love with Gold Rush, and so ta da…here we are!

However, it does still ripen very late in the season. We often do not finish picking them until the second week of November. So frost (and late-season massive hurricanes!) can be a major concern. Because of this, many growers who do have Gold Rush pick them earlier in the season when they are still too green. Of course, if Gold Rush is picked green, it doesn’t taste like much of anything but green apple. It also does not keep for months like the properly-ripe apples do.

We want Gold Rush that taste mighty fine (ok, we’re a bit selfish here…because that’s what WE want to eat!). So we take the risk, year after year, and let Gold Rush get properly ripe. Some years it’s no problem, and other years we have send a lot of the apples to the ‘seconds’ bin due to cracking from frost or too much rain.

But we feel good, ripe Gold Rush are worth their weight in gold…so enjoy!

(PS. We are also using Gold Rush as a parent in our own apple breeding projects, so you may very well see some delicious Gold Rush offspring coming along in a few years!)

If you haven’t staked your claim yet in this year’s Gold Rush Rush, you can do so here!

Terrifying Tales (and Mad Libs) from the Orchard…

October 28th, 2015, by Stephanie

pumpkin Yoinashi
Since Halloween is coming up, I thought I would step outside the box and do something a little different. Cheesy ghost stories are one of my favorite parts of Halloween (after the candy of course) and there just aren’t enough mad libs in the world today so I decided to combine the two….

Fill in 1-15 before continuing
1. Adjective
2. Verb ending in ing
3. Noun
4. Verb ending in ing
5. Noun
6. Type of fruit
7. A famous person’s name
8. Noun
9. Adjective
10. Adjective
11. Adjective
12. Noun
13. Favorite apple variety
14. Noun
15. Adjective


Ike and MollyOn a dark and (1)__________ afternoon, Farmer Ike was (2)________________ through the orchard at 3226 Limestone Road. Everything was in its place and nothing was out of the ordinary until a (3)________ caught his eye. As he crept closer to get a better look, it began (4)_________ towards him. He let out a startled yell and ran for the (5)___________. But just before he could reach it, a hand shot out of the (6)__________ tree and grabbed Ike by the sleeve. He spun around and came face to face with (7)______________! He was so surprised to see his old college friend that he momentarily forgot about the (8)__________ that was after him. However, just as Ike was about to give his old friend a tour of the orchard, a (9)___________ growl was heard to his left. With terror in his eyes and his heart beating fast, Ike turned to see none other than a (10)___________ and (11)_____________ (12)____________! He grabbed the nearest (13)______________ and threw it as hard as he could at the beast, but his aim was off and only angered the (14)___________ more. With no other weapons and no chance of escape, Ike did the only thing he could think of. He cut open a perfectly ripe Gold Rush apple and offered it to the creature. Since, as some of you might already know, Gold Rush is a pretty magical apple which has been known to defeat even the pickiest of eaters, the monster took the apple into its (15)_____________ paw, took a tentative bite, and smiled happily. This is how the not-so-scary monster came to live deep within the trees of North Star Orchard.

The End….Or is it?

Three Course Meal a la Asian Pears!

October 20th, 2015, by Stephanie

As a NSO Fruit Share CSA member or farmers’ market customer, you are part of a relatively small group of people who get to experience perfectly ripe and delicious Asian pears grown in your own area. And you get to try several different varieties! So you know what they are, you love them as much as we do, and you eat them weekly. But do you cook with them?

Apples are in tons of recipes from appetizers to desserts but Asian pears, being less widely available and often more expensive, don’t seem to get the same attention. Well that all changes today! Here is a three course meal incorporating Asian pears into each course. Asian pear varieties are pretty interchangeable in recipes so you can use what you have on hand; no problem!

Appetizer: Arugula, Beet, and Asian Pear Salad

This is a seasonal salad that can change according to what you have on hand whenever you have Asian pears. 4-6 servings.

1/2 pound arugula
1/2 pound lettuce or other mild greens
1 large Asian pear
1/2 cup pickled beets (or roasted if you prefer)
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds (cast iron works great for this)
Dress it with oil, lemon juice (or the brine from the pickled beets)
Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Main Course: here are a few options: (click links to recipe pages on other websites)

Pear Onion Soup
Pear Ginger Pork chops

Or keep it really simple and make Asian pear grilled cheese!
Take your favorite cheese, maybe some sautéed leeks or onions, add a few slices of Asian pear, and make grilled cheese how ever you normally would.

Dessert: Asian Pear Pecan Cookies

(Makes about 24 -30 soft cookies)
2-3 Asian pears peeled, cored and sliced
½ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely ground pecans
1 cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
Place the Asian pears in a blender and puree to make 1¼ cup of pear puree. Pour into a Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Grease two large cookie sheets.
Place your pecans in the blender and chop until the nuts are flour texture.
Add all dry ingredients to your mixer and mix about 30 seconds.
Add the oil and Asian pear puree’. Mix well on high speed 2- 3 minutes.
Using a tablespoon, place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets 2 -3 inches apart.
Place the cookie sheets in the oven for approx 25 minutes or until the edges turn dark brown.
Remove the cookie sheet and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the cookies to a flat plate until the cookies are at room temperature. Enjoy!

If you have any amazing recipes for Asian pears, tell us about them!

Farmer Ike’s Pick of the Week: Winecrisp!

October 15th, 2015, by Lisa

Winecrisp is a complex, crunchy, sweet, and very hard apple with a fruity sweet flavor (with hints of berry!) and a beautiful dusky red skin.

When we planted this new variety, it was simply known as Co-op 31 (the poor nameless thing). We only planted one tree, just to try it out. With the first apple, came our “Wow!”….so we planted a lot more of them.

We couldn’t let them remain nameless, however, so we dubbed them “Emperor” (we are quite challenged in the naming department, as you may know, so that’s the lame name we came up with). A few years later, the breeder named them “Winecrisp”, which of course is an infinitely better and much more appropriate name; why didn’t we think of that??

Farmer Ike says of Winecrisp: “It is just a damned fine apple!”

So try one (or three or more) this week, and see why. My feeling is after one bite, you may not want to share!

October, NSO-Style

October 14th, 2015, by Stephanie


Now that summer is officially over, you might be wondering what still gets done on a farm like North Star Orchard. It’s true that we no longer have peaches or plums, tomatoes or cucumbers, but we still have plenty to keep us busy.

In the orchard, we have Asian pears like Olympic and Niitaka to pick, European pears like Clairgeau and Sucre de Montlucon to pick, and so many of our favorite apples (like Golden Russet!) that we have run out of crates to put them all in! We are also making weekly trips to Bauman’s in Sassamansville to make Asian pear cider, apple cider, apple butter, and Asian pear butter. All of the jarred products are great for the winter when fruit is scarce and the cider freezes really well and tastes great warm or cold!

Kale DropsMeanwhile, in the garden, we are still harvesting lots of vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, and leeks. We are also busy seeding our fields that are no longer needed this season with cover crops like rye, field peas, and buckwheat. This allows nutrients to go back to the soil and to keep moisture in. The cool nights and eventual frost won’t even stop us from growing vegetable because we are able to keep planting and harvesting inside our plastic-covered greenhouse and high tunnel. The extra few degrees of warmth make a huge difference in December!

As work in the orchard and garden start to slow down, there will still be quite a bit going on here. Ike and Lisa will be interviewing potential new staff members for next season, there will be planning meetings for planting in spring, cleaning up and organizing equipment, the Gold Rush Rush!, plans for opening our very own, on-site market in the blue star barn next August, and much more.

And even though the nights are pretty cool now, the days are just right for working outside- mostly sunny and mild. This is pretty much our favorite time of year to be working so we don’t mind that there’s still plenty of work to be done!

Your ‘Voyage of Discovery’: Arikara Beans

October 6th, 2015, by Lisa

Arikara - scaled
Cool fall nights and windy/wet/stormy weather get you to thinking about soups, stews, and chili, right? It sure does for me! It’s good thing, then, that right about now is when ‘dry beans’ or ‘cooking beans’ are ready to be adopted.

Over the years, we’ve grown a number of different kinds of beans, including black beans, purple ‘Koronis’ beans, speckled ‘Cranberry’, and several more. This year, for various reasons, we ended up growing just one variety, but we think it’s a mighty good one….the ‘Arikara’ bean.

Now, you may think they’re not much to look at. Plain-jane brown or yellowish-brown is none-too-exciting to look at (and the kids will not use them in gluey dried macaroni and bean art), but what they lack in flair they make up for in flavor. And what a history they have….

“Arikara beans, “Ricara” beans to Thomas Jefferson, were named for the Dakota Arikara tribe encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition during their “Voyage of Discovery.” These beans were among the significant horticultural “discoveries” of Lewis and Clark, and perhaps more importantly, dried Arikara beans helped feed and sustain the members of the expedition through the arduous Fort Mandan winter of 1805 when temperatures averaged four degrees. Arikara beans were likely first grown in eastern North America by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Jefferson said the Arikara bean “is on of the most excellent we have had: I have cultivated them plentifully for the table tow years.”

Esopus SpitzenbergPretty cool, right? Now, old T.J. knew a thing or two about good food. We’re growing his favorite Esopus Spitzenberg apples as well, and we know they’re awesome, so you might just want to give these beans a try.

One thing to remember for sure: although these are ‘dry’ beans, they are way the heck fresher than beans you’d buy in a store. So cooking time is waaaay the heck reduced as well.

The first time I cooked up a batch, I figured I’d get them started and come back in a few hours like I’m used to. Humph – mightily overdone they were. I’ve since learned that these beauties should have a little more attention paid to them, and a lot less time in the hot tub. So, an hour more or less will do ya in general….just keep an eye on them and see how they behave in your pot.

Need some basics? Check out “Cooking with Dry Beans is Easy!” and the recipe “Braised Arikara Beans with Rosemary and Vinegar“.

Enjoy your voyage of discovery in beans – and let us know below if you have any winning recipes!

Weirdo of the Week: Romanesco!

October 2nd, 2015, by Sarah

Romanesco is a shock to the senses! Its gorgeous lime green to chartreuse hue, sometimes freckled with a purpley red blush, is mesmerizing. This hypnotic appeal is clear once you realize Romanesco is a stellar example of the fibonacci sequence, or golden ratio. Its florets radiate out in perfectly ordered fractal spirals before your very eyes!

In contrast to its funky appearance, this cabbage and broccoli relative is remarkably mild and sweet, with a texture that holds up well to cooking. Some would describe it as a nuttier tasting cauliflower. To start you down the path of weird food this week, try roasting a whole head of Romanesco with a simple glaze of lemon juice, thyme, and a generous helping of olive oil. It makes for a truly stunning presentation! For a heartier side, dish up this Romanesco and cabbage stir fry. You can use any rice; brown, wild, forbidden or otherwise!

This week’s brassica is also perfectly at home in a classic pasta dish made with just enough cream and cheese to make a decadent, simple meal. Romanesco also makes for a cozy soup when partnered with leeks and celery root, which is great for warming you on these increasingly chilly evenings! Finally, if you’re feeling especially ambitious, here’s a dish with roasted Romanesco and fresh made pasta. Personally, I would just stick with store bought ravioli, but perhaps you have greater homemade culinary visions! So get chopping and roasting, blending and eating, and enjoy this weirdo!

DIY Applesauce!

October 2nd, 2015, by Stephanie

Making applesauce is a great way to deal with all the apples that come with a fall fruit CSA share or big trip to the farmers’ market. Whether you are into water bath canning or just want some to freeze for the winter or refrigerate for a week, here is an easy, rainy day project!

Easy Applesauce Instructions:

Step 1: Rinse apples and peel if you want (I don’t peel mine since the skin on our NSO apples is pretty tender)

Step 2: Cut apples into small chunks, avoiding the core, seeds, and stem (the smaller the chunks, the faster they will cook down)

Step 3: Add to a deep walled sauce pan or a large stock pot depending on how large of a batch you want to make

Step 4: Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan/pot so that the apples don’t burn as they start cooking

Step 5: Stirring often, cook on low to medium (depending on the thickness of your pan) until applesauce reaches the consistency you desire – starting the cooking process with the lid on will help get the temperature up quicker but then remove it so that moisture can evaporate and your sauce can thicken up

Step 6: If you like chunky applesauce, you don’t need to do anything here but if you want a smoother applesauce, you can use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash the apples a bit

Step 7: If you are going to use a water bath canner, fill (1/2 inch head space) sanitized jars with hot applesauce and boil for 20 minutes. If you are going to freeze or refrigerate applesauce, let it cool to room temperature before putting it into your preferred containers.

Step 8: Enjoy!

There are plenty of different recipes out there for applesauce including some that add sugar or cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves but this is how I like to make mine- no extra ingredients and not a lot of hassle.

And applesauce can be used in many different ways such as in baking as a replacement to eggs, oil, or butter, on pancakes- especially potato pancakes!, with peanut butter (trust me, when it’s April and we are out of apples, it is a great alternative to our favorite snack of pb and apples!), with dessert, with savory entrées, as part of a Thanksgiving feast, and more!

What do you make with applesauce?

North Star Orchard • Ike & Lisa Kerschner
Email: • Phone: (610)-593-0314
3226 Limestone Rd. • Cochranville, PA 19330
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