a simple fruit of Nature packed full of juicy sweetness, and a whole lot of healthy goodness. It’s apple season! There are so many delicious treats and drinks you can make beyond traditional apple pie, or candied apples.
“We use apples for many baked goods including brownies, cookies, biscuits, scones, soup, jams, and apple butter. Many people find there are lots of health benefits in cider vinegar,” says Heidi Dykeman, Baker/Owner and Nathan Pegg, Grower/Owner of Homestead Orchards in Georgina.
Apple cider vinegar is a staple for many home remedies such as helping to eliminate warts, aiding in balancing stomach acids, and improving symptoms of diabetes.
“The most common alternate use for apples at the moment is apple cider vinegar. Shrubs, elixirs, and ready to drink beverages made with apple cider vinegar are very popular,” says Kyle Oakley, Partner at Goldsmith’s Orchard Market in Thornbury.
A shrub is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar. You can mix it with sparkling water to make a healthy beverage. Ciders are made from the pulp of apples.
“We use our less than perfect hand-picked apples and send them through our cider press where they’re washed, chopped, and squished. Pure unpasteurized cider comes out with absolutely nothing except the pure juice from the apples. It can be pasteurized by boiling it or sending it through a UV light. To make hard cider, take the unpasteurized cider and let it ferment. If left to ferment long enough, it will turn to cider vinegar,” says Dykeman and Pegg.
Different types of apples vary in flavour and firmness. This affects how you use them in cooking and baking. Oakley says he suggests using a mixture of sweet apples such as Gala, Honey Crisp, and Red Delicious with some tart apples such as McIntosh, Spy, or Ida Reds to give more depth and flavour to apple sauces. You can then reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener needed.
“For baking, we always say you can use any apple except Red Delicious, but the results will be slightly different. For example, MacIntosh apples cook very soft, which makes them great for sauce, and Cortlands stay very firm if you like to see apple sliced in your pie. Our favourites for baking are Northern Spies and Ida Red varieties, as they have a nice tart flavour,” says Dykeman and Pegg.
Ontario apples will be available for picking as early as the end of August, or beginning of September.
“I’ve been planting a bit every year. It’s very expensive to establish a high-density orchard to spread out financially. The whole apple farming industry is changing, so purchasing trees is difficult. It’s a new venture for us as people find out about us growing apples. The trees are getting bigger each year,” says Morris Gervais, Owner of Barrie Hill Farms
Apples are best stored in the crisper of your fridge with a moistened paper towel, says Oakley. You’ll get a “bad apple” in the fridge from lack of moisture.
Barrie Hill Farms, Springwater
Goldsmith’s Orchard Market, Thornbury
Homestead Orchards, Georgina