Article Written by Becky Dumais
Whether we were waiting for the school bus or playing hide and seek in the apple bins (unbeknownst to the workers), we were allowed to pick and eat the fallen fruit not intended for the market: the windfalls. Today, McIntosh and Gala are still the apples of my eye.
Finding Forbidden Fruit
Apples are indeed an ancient fruit. They’ve been growing since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Egyptians were some of the early cultivators – likely knowing that an apple a day was good for something.
During the California Gold Rush, apples were also a hot commodity – sometimes bringing more than $100 a bushel because they were versatile, durable and easily dried and preserved. Today apple trees grow in thousands of varieties all over the world, including Japan, Madagascar, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia, China, England, France and of course, across North America.
Here in Ontario, we’re lucky to have close to 20 different homegrown varieties to choose from. Apples are grown on nearly 16,000 acres of precious land in major apple producing areas ranging from the shores of Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Our Great Lakes are prime growing areas because they help moderate the temperature, so it’s true that Good Things Grow in Ontario. The top five types grown here are Empire, Gala, McIntosh, Northern Spy, and Red Delicious.
Empire apples (available October to July) are slightly tart, juicy, firm and crisp. They’re perfect for snacks and making apple sauce.
Gala apples (available early September to February) are best eaten fresh, perhaps even topped with peanut butter or dipped in caramel.
McIntosh apples (available mid September to May) have a white, juicy flesh, are mildly tart but sweeten as they ripen. Use them in sauces, pies or eating fresh after a day of apple picking.
Northern Spy apples (available October to May) are large, crisp and firm. They’re perfect for pies and old-fashioned baked apples just like Grandma used to make.
Red Delicious apples (available October to July) are firm, sweet and juicy. Perfect for salads. They’re not recommended for cooking.
Apples definitely are versatile: they’re delicious in salads, sandwiches (especially grilled cheese), and of course, baked goods. There are many childhood desserts in my mom’s repertoire, but when it comes to apples, two are on my must-have list: homemade apple pie (sometimes accompanied by a slice of old cheddar cheese) and apple pudding, served with warm brown sugar sauce – definitely the easiest to make of the two, but no less tasty. This fall, a Sunday dinner complete with an apple-inspired finale is definitely in order.
Andrews’ Scenic Acres
9365 No. 10 Side Road, Halton Hills
Saturday and Sunday 8 am – 6 pm from November 1 to December 24
On-Farm Market: pick your own crops, gift shop, gift baskets, baked goods and more.
5144 Derry Road, Burlington
Open: daily, 10 am – 6 pm, August to November
On-Farm Market: apples, cider, pears.
9528 Hwy. 25, Milton
Open: daily 10 am – 5 pm from July to October 31
10 am – 5 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 1 to December 23
On-Farm Market: apples, baked goods, cider, gift shop.