October 15th, 2014, by Lisa
September 17th, 2014, by Lisa
We get the question all of the time: “What is your favorite apple?”
Ike says something to the effect of “It’s the one I’m eating”. Which is true in his case. He has to sample and evaluate over 400 varieties of apples during the growing season. So if he’s chosen an apple to actually eat rather than just sample (like the old taste-and-spit method wine makers use), then you know it’s one he really likes.
Lisa will often say one or the other is on her Top Ten list, but to this point hasn’t really sat down to come up with a Top Ten list. Well, no more beating around the bush….here’s her list (in no particular order – that’s too hard!):
5. Crimson Gold
6. Golden Russet
7. Hudson’s Golden Gem
8. Gold Rush
Interestingly, most of those listed are yellow, gold, or have a high percentage of those colors on them. The exceptions being Winecrisp which is so dark red it’s nearly black, and Ludicrisp which again is dark red an speckly. If you are familiar with these varieties, you’ll also know they are sweet (‘cept maybe early-season Gold Rush), hence you know where Lisa’s tastes lie as well.
It’s a shame that in commercial apple sales, yellow apples are much maligned. Indeed it can be hard to convince a new-to-North Star customer to even try a yellow apple, so ruined they have been on very icky Golden Delicious. You cannot judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge an apple by its color.
What do you think – do any of those apples make it on your personal Top Ten list? What other varieties really float your boat?
August 2nd, 2014, by Lisa
Note: These are estimates. Farmer Ike would argue we have 3000+ varieties on the farm, owing to his apple breeding program. But so far those are not named. I understand it’s not a good idea to name things unless they are truly going to be your pets (that may be for chickens, though, rather than trees). But in any case, coming up with 3000 names would be way too taxing, so we’ll stick to the 380 to 400 range for the moment…
February 14th, 2014, by Lisa
We need one or two fit people to help us pick apples and Asian pears this fall, roughly September through October.
Part-time weekday hours (between 7AM and 3:30PM) are available. Must be physically fit: able to repeatedly lift/carry 40-50 pounds, climb a short ladder on a frequent basis, squat and bend repeatedly, and work in all weather conditions (although we won’t work in extremes of thunder, etc.). Must be able to work quickly and efficiently. (If you are a dawdler or like to stop to study and consider details or have difficulty working and talking at the same time, this job is not for you.)
Pay is $10/hr, with free seconds. 1/2 price on produce for those putting in 15-20 hours a week or more. If interested, please email Lisa@northstarorchard.com with a letter of introduction, including your availability.
October 23rd, 2013, by Lisa
Have no fear! I, too, felt daunted by winter squash of all kinds. Oh, the time and effort and pre-planning required to use it. And how to use it?? Well, fear no more: here’s the super-duper, easy way to start dealing with your mountain of squash….
Microwave it! Simple and fast, nuking squash essentially steams it in anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes…alleviating that need to pre-plan and have the oven on for an hour.
Here’s the steps:
1. Wash the squash and poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork (make sure to go through to the center)
2. Put the squash on a plate in the microwave and cook on high. (3 minutes for a larger heftier squash, 1.5 minutes for a smaller individual like a Delicata squash)
3. Flip the squash over and repeat.
4. Check for tenderness with a fork. The squash is done when a fork slides easily into it in all areas. If that’s not happening yet, continue to flip and nuke the squash for a few minutes until it does. (Delicata squash are usually done already at this point)
5. Allow to cool (or use caution when handling)
6. Easily slice off the ends, cut the squash down the middle, and scoop out the see cavity.
7. Scoop out the tender cooked squash, and do with it what you will! Note: Delicata squash skins are super-tender and edible, so you can just cut and eat them, skin and all, once you’ve removed the seeds.
Here’s some ideas:
-add butter and seasoning you like and just start eating!
-top it with some Asian pear butter for a sweet side dish to accompany roasted meat!
-make it into soup!
-get creative! In my case, I used this squash to make fritters of a sort. I mixed the squash with eggs, added some sweet corn, seasoned it with curry, cumin, salt, and pepper, fried it up and topped it off with a dab of Asian pear butter. Yum! (PS. gotta get me some of that again tonight)
Hope these tips helped, and that you are now feeling like this:
October 11th, 2013, by Lisa
Last week, the Chester County Food Bank stopped by to pick up a whole lot of apples to distribute to the many people in our county who struggle with hunger.
The reality of farming and marketing as we do is that sometimes we have less of what we’d like to have, and sometimes we have more than we know what to do with. The best laid plans and all that….
Farming is not factory (although there is ‘factory farming’). We cannot ‘make’ the exact amount of what we want or need. Unlike commodity apple growers (who focus on just a few varieties like Honeycrisp, Gala, and Red Delicious), we cannot just ship off our oddball varieties via a wholesale channel. Stores have no interest in purchasing varieties they’ve never heard of (we tried many years ago and learned that the hard way). So when there are extras (in this case, a bumper crop of Florina and Royalty apples), we are happy the Chester County Food Bank will happily use these delicious apples. They are able to educate their clients about the varieties (well, really, just one bite will do that).
So, thanks to Larry, Steve, Nick, and everyone at the Chester County Food Bank. When we have extras of fine delicious fruit, it is thrilling to know they’ll be enjoyed by those who worry about their next meal….rather than have the fruit languishing at a produce auction because no one is willing to bid on them.
October 3rd, 2013, by Lisa
The 2013 Applepalooza Saturday (October 5th) saw kids and adults alike enjoying all things apples!
Farmer Ike had a number of really rare apple varieties on hand and did a tasting/Q&A session with the group, followed up by a tasting tour down a couple rows of apple trees.
Kids of all ages enjoyed face painting and apple scratch art, as well as guessing the weight of apple crates and guessing how many apples were in a crate.
CSA member Jim Donsky and his friend Tom Zartler entertained us with fantastic music on guitar and upright base (see more info about their band, “The Bent Benjamins” here). Thanks, guys!
And the highlight, of course, were the apple dishes everyone brought to share! We were amazed at the variety of yummy things to eat, and were thrilled to find there were more ‘savories’ than ‘sweets’ in the mix. Awesome!
Stealing the show visually were Shannon and Carolyn’s caramel apples, which were true works of art. It was great fun to watch the kids eat them. Some little ones studied their apples carefully before each bite in order to decide which spot to chomp into next, and one little one was thrilled with her M&M-covered apple, as she’d not had M&Ms before (she quite approved, btw!). A sticky, beautiful delight – thanks Shannon and Carolyn!
The other dishes were devoured by all who attended. The voted crowd winners were the “Butternut Pasta Salad w/arugula, pepitas, bleu cheese, and apples” by Dan Borkoski (still waiting on the recipe, Dan!) and the “Fruit and Nut Chili” by Pam Bojanoski (recipe below).
Other major crowd favorites were the “Apple Sausage Sweet Potato Delight” by Peter Rossi (recipe below) and the “Caramel Apple Bacon Crisp” by Rachael Auchenbach (recipe below).
Delicious eats, fabulous fun, and great company….thanks everyone for coming to visit!
Apple Sausage Sweet Potato Delight
From Peter Rossi
2 Tbs brown sugar
1Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c cold water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
Brown & drain the sausage
Blend sugar, flour and cinnamon, salt, and cold water, and pour into crock pot.
Layer sausage, sweet potato, and 3 apples in crock pot.
Cook on low up to 6 hrs until apples have almost dissolved.
Remove sausage, apples, and sweet potato from crock pot and pack
firmly into a baking dish, the liquid may be discarded.
Peel, core, and slice the final apple. layer on the top of the cooked
Dot the top of the uncooked apples with butter, and sprinkle with
additional cinnamon & brown sugar.
Bake uncovered @ 400° for 30 minutes, or until top apples are fork tender.
From Rachael Auchenbach
1 package bacon
Reserved bacon drippings ( should be about 1/2 cup if less add butter to equal to 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used sucanat)
8-9 tart apples
For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used sucanat)
Preheat oven to 450
Peel core and slice apples and place in greased pan (I used a stoneware oval baker)
Cook bacon til crisp, reserve grease
Set aside to cool
Prepare crumb topping by mixing flour and sugar and cutting in butter until you have a sand like texture…crumble up bacon and mix into crumb
In a sauce pan add bacon grease and butter equal to 1/2 cup
Add sugar, flour and water
Bring to a boil, stirring often
Reduce heat and simmer for a bit
Pour over top of apples
Sprinkle on topping
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes
Reduce heat to 350 bake for 30 minutes
Fruit & Nut Chili
From Pete & Pam Bojanoski
“a highly modified recipe based on original Fruit & Nut Chili recipe from http://www.bhg.com/recipe/meat/fruit-and-nut-chili/ on the Better Homes & Gardens website”
1 lb ground meat (pork, beef, turkey, chicken all work)
28 oz can diced tomatoes (use liquid too, do not drain it off)
2 cups chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
3 green, red or yellow bell peppers, cored & chopped
1 lb fresh tomatillos, hulled & chopped in quarters (or leftover green tomatoes out of your garden)
1 lb diced turnips (leaves & small roots removed and turnip scrubbed leaving skin on)
8 oz diced green chili peppers (these are in 4 oz cans usually & are sweet peppers)
4 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp unsweetened Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 Tbsp sweet curry powder (if you don’t have it substitute a mix of ground coriander, cumin and turmeric)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
15 oz can black beans, drained
15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained
2/3 cup chopped or slivered nuts – such as pecans or walnuts since they’re softer nuts
4 large apples- cored and chopped into ½ inch dice
½ tsp ground chipotle pepper flakes (a bit zippy)
½ tsp ground Aleppo pepper flakes (very mild pepper & good flavor)
4 shakes of Tabasco sauce (a bit zippy)
1 tsp dried oregano (if fresh herbs, then double the amount)
1 Tbsp dried thyme (if fresh herbs, then double the amount)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp Professor Phardtpounder’s Colon Cleaner (medium heat pepper sauce, not real hot but is interesting flavor)
Optional ingredients: raisins, chopped dried fruit of any kind or dates, diced eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips
Note- I get a lot of my spices from Penzey’s Spices (www.penzeys.com retail store and online ordering)
In ceramic-coated gallon sized cast-iron Dutch Oven, brown meat and onions together until meat is cooked and onions are softened. Add fresh garlic & rest of chopped vegetables and bring back to boil cooking for 15 min. Add chicken broth and herbs & spices. Don’t add the beans or nuts yet.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on med-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Add beans and nuts. Heat through for 10 min and serve.
I make my chili ‘medium spicy’ heat. You can adjust to low heat by taking out chipotle pepper and Tabasco sauce.
October 1st, 2013, by Lisa
Got your attention, eh?
The other day, I came across an article online which I found really interesting. As Ike (who normally doesn’t even peruse the internet unless he absolutely has to) was passing by, I said, “Hey – there’s a picture online I want to show you.”
He gave me a funny look, presumably because he was thinking, ‘oh great, she wants me to look at a computer…’. I responded to that look by saying, “Hey – it’s apple porn!” – which quickened his step in my direction.
Turns out there’s a fellow in the UK who has a tree (a SINGLE tree) onto which he has grafted – get this – 250 varieties of apples!
Our 400 or so varieties here at least have one tree apiece. Sometimes there are two of each, and sometimes 200 (like Gold Rush!).
So this fellow’s 250-variety apple tree is quite an amazing feat. And quite a sight for the eyes (hence the “apple porn”).
You can read all about it here.
September 27th, 2013, by Lisa
You’ve been asking for a fall farm event, so here it is!
Saturday, October 5th from 4 to 7 PM
Plan to join us for the whole timeframe, as it’ll be chock full of fun (and apples!)
(you can arrive anytime between 3:30 and 4 and have plenty of time to get your apple on – facepaint that is – before further activities start)
Apple face painting for kids of all ages
Apple-of-a-different color art (also for kids of all ages!)
Feats all can enjoy:
Apple packaging competition (in groups, with prizes!)
Pass the apple
(and if the kids are rowdy, an applehead race)
An Awesome Apple Tasting Tour of the orchard with our resident apple-head, Farmer Ike!
The Apple Concoction Contest! (Yes, this is an apple-themed potluck)
Things to bring:
1. Your apple concoction (see below)
2. Your own dishware and utensils (beverages will be provided)
3. Pocket knife, if you have one, for the Apple Tasting Tour
4. Chairs or blankets to sit on while you feast!
Volunteers Wanted: (please let us know if you are interested!):
1 or 2 photographers willing to take and share some shots of the afternoon!
1 or 2 acoustic musicians willing to play for part of the time
UPDATE: The Bent Benjamins will be providing some musical entertainment! CSA member Jim Donsky and friends will entertain us with acoustic Americana folk rock! They plan to start at 4PM, so they can later join in on the festivities and good eats! Come out and give them a listen as you enjoy some simple games and other activities.
1 or 2 face paint helpers to help our in-house artist. Simple art – an apple with stem and leaf!
Location: 3226 Limestone Rd. Cochranville, PA 19330
Parking: Watch directional arrows for parking when you arrive. Please negotiate carefully. There will be an area for unloading and special needs parking for those with disabilities.
Contact: If you have trouble finding us, call Lisa at 610-406-1780. If you have other concerns or questions, please call 610-593-0314 or email us: Lisa@northstarorchard.com
THE APPLE CONCOCTION CONTEST!
Bring a dish, be it sweet or savory, containing apples in some way.
(If you’re really stumped, you can bring something which doesn’t have apples in it, but we hope you’ll try!)
Judges: Everyone who attends!
Sweet – including any desserts, sweet breads, jams, etc.
Savory – including all main dishes, side dishes, soups, casseroles, salads, etc.
Most Creative – that which the crowd judges to be the most interesting and creative (maybe in presentation, ingredient pairing, etc.)
Prizes per Category: 1 bag of Gold Rush in fall (or another apple variety of your choice) + 1 bottle of cider at the Applepalooza.
Recipe Request: We would like to start a webpage on the NSO site for recipes from this year’s Applepalooza and future events. It would be great if you could bring your recipe with you, or email it to us.
September 25th, 2013, by Lisa
Farmer Ike walked in last Tuesday at noon with 21 new-to-us apple varieties to try!
I prepared for the tasting (which was held at 3:30) by eating a protein and carbohydrate-heavy lunch, as I knew I’d soon be filling up with juicy fruit sugars!
Ike had all of the apples labeled, which was kind of cool-looking, and it was neat to exclaim about the name before we took a bite: “Crown Prince Rudolf? What kind of name is that?” and “Junaluska – you gotta wonder!” So while it was fun, it maybe would be better to do it as a blind tasting. Apples named “Cinnamon Spice” and “Nutmeg” definitely give us pre-conceived notions about what they’ll taste like. In some cases it was correct, such as with “Green Sweet” and “Spice of Old Virginia”. But with the aforementioned “Cinnamon Spice” our hopes were dashed as we tasted a rather bland apple. We’ll give it another try, though…sometimes great flavor comes along as the trees mature.
We got through all 21, with Ike taking notes on our consensus about the merits (or not-so-meritorious virtues) of each variety.
I believe our favorites were Pixie and Fiesta (which, honestly, was like having a party in your mouth!)
And that was it for me for the day – no more fruit, please!!
However, I’m looking forward to the next tasting. And I’m looking forward to next year (2014), when we plan to host tastings that YOU can come to as well. It’s great fun…and I promise I’ll have some carbs handy to balance the fruit!
Adventures in Flavor…One Apple at a Time
Flaunt your apple geekery in style with this colorful new tee from North Star Orchard. Loaded with a just a sampling of the nearly 400 apple varieties grown here at NSO, this stylish shirt will have people staring at your chest…and belly…and back.
No worries though; they won’t be checking out your physique, but rather studying some of the fascinating apple names on this colorful, must-have shirt of the harvest season.
Some of the varieties listed include:
Favorites such as Florina, Esopus Spitzenburg, Sugar Snap, Winecrisp, Stellar, and Gold Rush.
Rarer varieties such as Kandil Sinap, Cinnamon Spice, and Tsugara.
And real oddball attention-grabbers such as Incarnation, Bloody Ploughman, and Westfield Seek-No-Further.
Shirts are available on white or navy blue in S, M, L, XL.
They are available at the farm and at all farmers’ market locations except the West Chester Grower’s Market. (West Chester Growers’ Market prohibits the sale of items which were not directly grown or produced on the farm. To get a shirt (or one of our totes or hats), you’ll need to pre-order and pre-pay online, and we’ll simply ‘deliver’ it to you on market day: Click here to pre-order.
Off-farm CSA members can pre-order them for delivery with their share!
Shirts were printed by ooshirts.com, who have been easy to fabulous to work with!