Thursday, November 29, 2007

apple-ation


With the end of November comes the end of apple picking season here in central New York. Although the season
seemed to come very early this year, I was still sad to see it go. There is nothing like the taste a a freshly-picked apple, not to mention all the goodies that you can make with the bounty!

Right now, an entire produce drawer in our fridge is filled with locally grow apples. We're each eating a couple of apples a day, in addition to cooking and baking with them, so I thought I'd do one last apple post before the orchards are buried in snow the the apples are just a memory.



First of all, a little apple transgression. As Daiku and I were driving away from an orchard, whose name shall be kept secret, we noticed a cluster of trees with very interesting looking apples growing on them cordoned off near the exit. These trees were definitely not open for picking, and the apples looked like nothing we'd ever seen before- they were pretty large, with skin so dark, they almost looked black.



So, furtively, I ran out of the car as Daiku nervously kept the engine running. I ran to the forbidden trees and, quickly as I could, picked one of these black apples. I then ran back to the car, giddy and a little nervous. What if they follow us and punish us for touching their top-secret apples? What if the apples are radioactive, or some horrible genetic mutants? (Anyone remember "tomacco" from the Simpsons...?)



We tried the apple about a week after bringing it home. (We kept putting it off, because we wanted a "special" occasion to try this super "special" apple, and of course with our busy schedules, that special moment never came.) By the time we did get to eat the apple, we were afraid that it would be mealy from having sat in the fridge for so long. So, each of us bites into this apple and ZOMG! Possibly the most wonderful apple EVER! (And I've tasted plenty of really great apples). This apple had it all- sweet-tangy flavor, perfect crisp texture, perfume-like scent, it was indescribable. I wish I'd taken some more when I had the chance!

So now, I want to ask you, does anyone recognize this apple? Can anyone tell us what this is? Once you've tried something this good, the thought of living the rest of your life without it seems bleak!



Ok, enough about the magical black apple. Here is a muffin recipe to use up some of your own produce glut. I adapted this muffin from the apple zucchini muffins in the first edition of the "Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk" 'zine. Except, I made so many huge changes that I would feel bad saying this is that recipe, so I will give you my recipe for:

apple-apple muffins (makes 10 muffins)
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C unsweetened soymilk (edit 11/30: I meant to say "1/2 C", not "1/c C"!
  • 1 C whole spelt flour
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • a few grates of nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp. pre-ground nutmeg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1-2 TB agave nectar (can omit if you want a less sweet breakfast muffin)
  • 1/4 C oil
  • 2 apples, grated (can leave peels intact)
  • optional mix-ins: nuts, raisins, dried fruit, coconut...
Basically I turned these into 100% whole grain muffins, decreased the sweetness, omitted the zucchini, and added some vinegar to make sure that they would have enough "puff" even without white flour.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • pour the vinegar into a large measuring cup, pour the soymilk over it and let it sit while you complete the rest of the recipe
  • grate your apples and keep them covered until ready to use
  • whisk together all the dry ingredients
  • add the sugar, agave nectar, and oil to the soymilk/vinegar mixture, mix until well-blended.
  • add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix gently until just blended- do NOT overmix!
  • add the apples (and any optional mix-ins) and fold gently until mixed through
  • fill your muffin cups generously- until just under full
  • bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until fully puffed and golden brown
  • allow to cool for 1 - 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely before storing. (you can, of course, eat these while they're piping hot!)
These tasted incredible- and were healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They kept well for 3 days, and were very moist and tender. They re-heated well, and paired wonderfully with a dab of Earth Balance.

Enjoy!


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31 comments:

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

yes! tomacco!
that apple looks divine. i wish i knew what it was.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Oooh, I need to make apple muffins! I adore apples, I think we're going to look for a place to pick some this weekend!

leosatter said...
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Megan said...

Hey Bazu,

I think that we met you and your husband last week at the potluck at Jennifer's house--I found your blog through her links and have really been enjoying reading it this week!

About the apple--it may be an ArkBlack, which is a very dark, very crisp, zesty apple with firm, almost hard, flesh. It tends to ripen later in the season (Oct) and is a really good storage apple. After a few days off the tree, its skin starts to change from smooth to waxy to almost sticky. But it is always delicious and has a very floral perfume. Brian and I started a small home orchard at our place a few years back and an ArkBlack tree was one that just had to be included.

We have not had a lot of success (or apples or pears) yet; there is a reason that many of the commercial organic apples are not grown in this climate. However, we have had a blast learning about and tasting new varieties. Next fall, if you and your husband are looking to try some different heirloom-type apples, head out for a daytrip to Miller Nurseries in Canandaigua. They have a very inexpensive ($5/bushel), you-pick orchard behind the nursery. All the trees are labeled with the names of the varieties and the nursery catalog has great descriptions of the features of the apples to guide you.

Also, “Apples” by Roger Yepsen, has wonderful drawings and essays on over 90 different heirloom-type varieties. Maybe you can identify your "forbidden fruit" in this book.

Have a great day and thanks again for writing such a great blog!

reiskeks said...

What a post *yay* ...mysterious new fruits... I'll check about the ArkBlack, maybe it is available somewhere here :D ...apples may differ so much in taste, even those which almost look and smell the same... some of them are almost bitter or dry and flavor free *sigh* It is really necessary to know which ones are good! And also, I have read, that they have stores which sell only apple varieties and apple products in Paris, because there are so many of them... most people do not know how delicious GOOD apples can be

SusanV said...

Ha! Love the title!

I'd trade you a bag of citrus fruits for a bag of fresh apples. It seems depending on where you live you can have one but not the other!

Melody Polakow said...

I don't know about the apple, but it looks great! I have some apples I need to use, so I may just make these muffins...

Vegan*asm said...

I'm jealous of your local apple picking ability. I just bit into a Washington grown apple while sitting miles and miles away from it's original home. I guess I should be thankful for any apples at all. At least I can still make those muffins, local apples or not.

springsandwells said...

Hi Bazu,
Yes,
I would put money on it being an Arkansas Black. Very nice heirloom apples - BIG, dark dark red with a light whitish flesh. I have found them at various specialty hippie stores in the apst. The first time I saw one was at the Coop in San Diego. I was mesmerized by its beauty and had to buy it!

I had apples with peanut butter for breakfast today. Yum!

:) Amey

Ashasarala said...

Haha That was the cutest story! :)

You're lucky. All the orchards around here close October 31st. I didn't get a chance to pick a single one, I've been so busy!

Ah, well. Fall will come again eventually. :)

Jessica said...

oh my gosh - yes - tomacco! love that you referenced that!

textual bulldog said...

I, too, am unbelievably jealous of your apple-picking ability, and all the varieties of apples that seem to be available to you. Not that I should complain for only having access to like 8 varieties, but still, I long for some of these wonderful heirloom apples... And oh, that apple-apple muffin recipe is going into my file and being earmarked for immediate use! I love that it's full of whole grains and uses agave for the sweetener.

Veganista said...

Wow, that apple is beautiful. I was interested to read peoples' suggestions about what it might be! For some reason it makes me think of Snow White--must be the dark red skin, so striking against the white flesh inside.

Bazu, I'm sorry I've not been in the comments so much lately--crazy-busy with uni--but it's wonderful to drop in again.

Courtney said...

Bazu,

The thing I miss most about living in the Finger Lakes is Crispin apples! They were the BEST things ever and my mouth waters just thinking about them...unfortunately, I cannot get them in the Mid-West where I am now. I have even had family members mail them to me--they get a little banged up, but the flavor is still there!

Sorry I cannot help out with the mystery black apple, though. Could you call the orchard and ask?

Courtney

Rural Vegan said...

When we went to Farm Sanctuary we went apple picking nearby and came home with a bushel of Crispins. So good! The orchard was totally picked out of apples already, but when hearing that we drove all the way from Chicago they let us into their private stash & we too had forbidden apples, though not your black variety.

fallowfields said...

Dear Snow White! Be careful of those deep red, even purple-black, seductive fruits, which contrive to get you to do things[grab the forbidden fruit], which you normally would abstain from doing.
I love your blog, particularly since I too am in central NY. would love to
have you vist in Pompey Center and Nelson NY. !!

SaraJane said...

Oh yum! I love apples, too. Next year I'm going to make a point to find an orchard to self-pick. When I was growing up, we had a ton of apple trees in our yard. Cherry trees, too! What a way to spoil a girl, eh?

jab said...

Others have mentioned the Arkansas Black which seems to match your photo.

I love apples and I love that there are so many varieties. There's an apple for every taste.

bazu said...
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bazu said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments, and especially for identifying "ArkBlack" apples for us- it's my new favorite variety!

Megan, it was great meeting you, too! (I can still taste that salad- mmmm!) We will definitely stop by Miller Nurseries- we're always looking for new orchards and new heirloom apples to try!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

NO, tell me apple season isn't almost over! I just love these pumpkins, Bazu, no matter how many changes you made to the original. You probably made them better! :)

Lisa J. said...

Miller Nurseries in Canandaigua.

Stop it! you're making me homesick. :(

Actually, I miss Cortland apples the most - they're next to impossible to get our here - come to think of it, it's really difficult to find Macintosh out here as well. I never appreciated living in "apple country" until I left.

dreamy said...

I love ur harry potter + snow white story :) The muffin looks great!

Vivacious Vegan said...

I too was going to suggest Arkansas Black. Very delicious apple. Marty & I purchased a bushel last year and was told that it was a terrific long storage apple that would easily keep for 30 days in our basement (cold, but not refrigeration cold). We had purchased another bushel of a different variety and stored those in our fridge. After we finished those apples we excitedly dug into the Arkansas Blacks only to find they had become very mealy and mushy. We were so sad.

I love apples and am constantly amazed by the deliciousness of the different varieties. I wish I lived on an apple orchard!

Pink Theory said...

sounds like the magical black apple was worth the sweat :-)

mustardseed said...

I don't have those apples, but I do have big fuji apples. i think those will work.

Sounds so yummy!

mustardseed said...

Oh I made them the day before, they tasted great! But I managed to make 7 and a half. And they were a little dense and sticky. Maybe I should've made ten. And I actually added the leftover apple juice from the grated apples. Was I supposed to do that?

I grated the apples on the bigger holes on my cheese grater, cause the tiny holes just produced mush and the juice kept spilling out.

bazu said...

Hi Mustardseed!

I used the bigger holes of my grater for the apples too, and they didn't give off that much liquid. I'm sorry your muffins came out sticky- I'm thinking if you got 7 out of the recipe your cups might have been over-filled, resulting in denser cupcakes. It's also really important not to overmix muffin batter, especially whole grains kinds like this one.

Thanks for stopping by!

mustardseed said...

Okay got it. Next time, no extra apple juice, TEN muffins and no overmixing! I tend to mix quite a bit cause I wanted everything so well distributed.

Thanks alot these muffins really do taste good!! Any way I can add flaxseed to it? I'm trying to make flax a part of my diet now.

bazu said...

Hi Mustardseed!
I'm glad you liked the muffins- I often have to remind myself not to overmix, too!
If you want the added fiber of flaxseeds, you can add about a tablespoon or so of ground flaxmeal to the muffins. But if you want the Omega-3 nutrition of flax, you should have it without heating it- sprinkle it on oatmeal, cereal, salads, or in salad dressings instead.
Cheers!

mustardseed said...

Hey bazu!! I thought of apple muffins for my project, and I immediately recalled these! I just know I have to try again, these are just too good to miss.

How big are your apples? I bought green apples but they're rather puny. Like those little apples for kiddy hands.