North Star Orchard Blog

Last year was a whirlwind year for us with the launch of our big, beautiful farm store and all the events we planned around it. Did you know we also offered an assortment of workshops as well? From the sound of it - and despite our best efforts - many folks who would have loved to participate simply didn’t hear about them in time to plan accordingly. We don’t want that to happen this year!

The moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read on the internet!

Last year's blog post on this date (April 1st, folks) was a complete farce. It was the ONLY time I've ever tried an April Fool's prank, and gosh..but I nailed it!

Did you get taken in? Don't worry - many people did. Including, believe it or not!, ...

What does November mean to you? Thanksgiving celebrations...the clocks changing...digging out the sweaters and packing away the shorts...cozy evenings with warm drinks and fun movies?

November means all of that to us and more. Here on the farm, November means Gold Rush apple month - that golden time of year we all wait for to harvest and enjoy those awesome apples, make varietal cider, and start cleaning up the farm to ‘put it to bed’ for the winter.

For some of our local community, November also marks the memorable loss of two teens who suddenly and silently lost their lives a couple years ago to odorless carbon monoxide gas.

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. There's nothing too exciting-sounding about "Co-op 31", so who wants to risk planting more than one of them?!

At this time of year, school kids across the county get treated to the story of Johnny Appleseed...that guy of old who walked around the country with a cooking pot on his head, spreading apple seeds hither and yon. Sometimes, the kids get treated to a trip to an orchard, but they usually at least make some pretty red construction paper apples, or make some apple prints, and munch on a Red Delicious or Honeycrisp in the process.

But we grownups....WE know the REAL story. Sure, good ol' Johnny Appleseed was getting a bunch of new apple trees out and about across the country at the time. But the goal was hard cider, not Red Delicious. Join us for a special day of hard cider tasting and education at the farm on Saturday, November 11th and taste some of the newest batches of Chester County hard cider...including a blend of apples from NSO!

Shall we take a journey down memory lane to our childhood today?

Back in the day, when we all chewed gum, Bazooka was quite a thing. Pink, perfumy, rock-hard at first (usually), we dug in anyway and then attempted to blow bubbles with it. At least for this chewer, bubble-blowing seemed rather tricky with Bazooka.

Hazelnuts, pecans, hickories, and walnuts - oh my!

A few years ago, Ike planted a number of nut trees. What a nut, some thought - they can take forever to start producing! Well, here's our resident 'nut' posing with our first pecan last year. Woohoo - looking forward to those pecans.

There's a few more on the trees this year, but don't get your pecan pie recipes ready and waiting just yet, as there's not quite enough to share yet. So it'll be another year or two before we have enough to sell. And the hickories aren't even close...

But in the meantime, we have a lovely crop of hazelnuts...and they'll be available starting this week!

Here’s more info from Farmer Ike:

Sugar Snap that is...and not the peas – the apples!

The name says it all: they are not too sweet and not too tart, have a great flavor and crunch, and they’re quite juicy. We think they have the quintessential apple flavor and texture when your brain thinks of the word ‘apple’. Most everyone just loves these striped beauties!

And now, for the rest of the story (remember Paul Harvey?):  

Summer isn’t technically over yet, but the temperature is dropping and the fall crops are ready to take over!  Even though it happens around the same time every year, it always seems to take us by surprise.  How is it already mid-September?  What happened to the summer?  However, as sad as we are to see the summer end, we are very excited for all the fall crops and events.

Here at NSO we’re known for our wide range of unique and flavorful apple varieties. We grow right around 350 varieties of apples that are anything from green, to red, to yellow, to russetted, to big, to small, to sweet, to tart, to heritage, to recent introductions, and everything in between! Some of these apples are our tried-and-true favorites that have been part of our orchard for many years. For those varieties, we have large trees and lots of them! However, at least 250 or so of those 350 varieties are in what we refer to as our “trial block”. That means we have one or two young trees that we are trying to determine if we like well enough to plant more of.  Flavor is definitely our top priority but we are also looking for texture, disease resistance, growth habits (like spur types and if branches are upright or droopy), breeding potential, as well as storage life. We take lots of notes on taste and keep track of what day we start and stop picking each year to make it easier on ourselves the next year!  

WIth 350 varieties to try, it stands to reason that some of them will be delicious while others fall a bit short. We try to weed out the truly bad flavors before they ever make it to market, but some of the “uniquely weird” flavors like banana, tangerine, and bourbon are interesting enough to let the customers decide for themselves. And some, like Knobbed Russet, are so ugly that even we are afraid to take a bite!