Ingredient: Apples

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Here’s the thing about apples and me: we aren’t great friends. They try to get together in August and I refuse to return their calls. I once spouted off so vehemently about not eating apples in summer that a funny D.C. friend said I was appointed chair of the NAIS committee (No Apples In Summer).

Besides that, I would never, not ever, order a dessert on a menu that has apples as an ingredient. My sister and I stand strong on that one (we opt for chocolate), unless we are with a friend we don’t know that well, in which case we would set aside our sisterhood strong-arm dessert tactics and defer to that friend should an apple dessert be his or her preference.

But now, as of just the other day, it is officially no longer summer. That’s a relief because the apples are so pretty up north that I don’t think even I, the stooge of warm-weather apples, could hold out against them much longer. I heard from all over the place lately that there wouldn’t be much in the way of Michigan apples this year. I was recently downstate at the Lansing City Market, a market I haven’t been to since I was a little girl, and I got to talking with a farmer there. She said she used to work “off the farm,” and while she’s glad she did that to save up some cash for retirement, she much prefers things now, being “on the farm” full time. I asked her about the apples, and she was loath to admit that the Honeycrisps were imported from Pennsylvania. Not a single piece of fruit came from her own land this year, due to the early warmth then frost back in March.

They were spotty and bruised, the Honeycrisps, and some were so much so that she said those were not eating apples, but utility apples. Utility-anything makes me not want to do whatever it is that the utility is meant for. Isn’t it true that good ingredients in equals good product out? Perhaps they taste the same as the less bruised cousins, but a utility apple depresses me about as much as any apple in summer does.

The gentleman stocking the apples over at Bill’s watched me taking pictures and swatted a fly off of the apples for me. Can’t have a fly on the apple, we both agreed. He told me that the farmers lost a lot of apples downstate, but not so much here. The local apples are doing just fine, and they’re a little cheaper than downstate, where they’re fetching a bushel for a couple dollars more.

As your chair of NAIS, I’m pleased to officially say that it’s apple time, and to admit, now that it’s fall, that we are in fact very dear friends after all.

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  1. Elaine Archer says:

    In California, no matter what time of the year it is, if you get to Julian, CA, apple pie is a MUST. However, next time I plan to share my apple pie ala mode so I can actually waddle away after eating it. So yummy.

  2. Ali says:

    I can’t believe Peggy never told me about this apple dessert prohibition. I am pretty sure she has shared an apple dessert with me. I eat an apple almost every day and I get super excited when I see an apple dessert on a menu. I’d pick a fruit dessert over chocolate any day… Now I will always think of the two of you whenever I eat apple crisp….

  3. Roger Toomey says:

    It depends on what one wants to do with the apples when they are ready. Summer apples tend to be softer and better for cooking. The very earliest bruise just by touching and are really only good for apple sauce. The later the apples generally the harder they are and the better keepers they are. Stores generally don’t handle the best cooking varieties because they bruise so easily. That is when you want to check out the orchards personally during the summer.

  4. Bill B. says:

    A shame we don’t have a Cider Mill here. We will be heading toward Traverse City before too long. It is the closest one. OBTW, I agree with your opinion of summer apples.

  5. Gregory Jarous Lawrenceville GA says:

    Maureen, This makes me want a good fall Michigan apple. You metioned the Lansing City Market, i think it sad, in what they to it, nothing like when we were young. Keep these PC coming i emjoy them.

  6. Greg Carpenter says:

    Well, I’m one of those apple dessert guys. Chocolate is great, but nothing beats a well made a Tarte Tatin or apple pie. Thankfully we have apple processors here in Michigan that individually quick-freeze good varieties (Northern Spy, Ida Red) in season so we can use them year round. But for fresh apples I am in total agreement! A mushy, bright red, impossibly perfect looking supermarket “Delicious” apple (love the irony), available year round in the supermarket, is always cause for suspicion. Thankfully my favorite “real” apple tree, hidden in a protected cove in the neighbor’s woods, escaped the early frost this season and is producing gloriously good fruit. My son and I have been making regular pilgramages.

  7. Joe Izen says:

    Maureen, I couldn’t agree with you more! the very last thing I want to see or eat in Summer is an Apple. But as soon as the first chill makes its way to my door and Summer vacation is but a fading dream, I start looking for my favorite of all apples – the Macoun from upstate NY. They are only out for a short time and I usually buy enough of them to last through the Autumn. Apple crisp, cobbler, pie, all make for a delicious ending to the sturdier Fall fare.