October 15 2009 by Karla Henriquez
Every September, when the air starts to feel nippy and the leaves are just barely starting to turn, I'm reminded that it's time to drive out to an orchard to pick some of my own apples. Even my farmer's market can't compete with the fresh taste of an apple right off the tree on an early fall day!
This year, my friends and I decided to go to one of the area's most easily accessible orchards at Silverman's Farm in Easton, Connecticut. When we arrived, the kids were excited to jump into a complementary wagon to ride from the parking lot to the store across the street. In no time, we had picked up our half bushel bags and caught a tractor-pulled wagon for a ride into the trees. My 19 month old was fascinated to be bouncing along with the wind in her hair, behind a real tractor. She squealed and clapped the whole way up the hill into the orchard. I even heard a "Bravo!" or two. The friendly driver took us right to the rows that were open for picking that day and gave us a brief set of instructions, then turned us loose on rows of Gala's, Cortland's, and Macouns. I was perfectly happy with this selection since I was looking for apples that I could use to eat, bake and make applesauce.
My daughter started out quite enthusiastic about pulling apples off the lower branches of the trees and throwing them in our bag. Then she bit into one and decided it was a better use of her time to sit in the warm sun and eat one of the sweet Macouns. This left me free to quickly move from tree to tree, picking all the best apples. When I was done, I sat down to eat my own apple and then watched the kids run up and down the row, picking up rocks, leaves, branches, and the fallen apples. They even found a little caterpillar. When we were ready to go, the tractor had pulled up and we rode back down to the store to pick up other farm goodies, like apple cider donuts and fresh country jam.
We went home smudged with a little dirt and satisfied with our harvest.
The next night, I pulled out my apple-picker's most essential tool, the Williams-Sonoma exclusive Apple Peeler/Corer. This handy tool cores, peels, and slices an apple with just a few turns of the crank. It's so slick that my husband volunteered enthusiastically to help with that part of the project. When the apples were ready, I went to work on an apple crisp and 5 jars of chunky applesauce. Within 10 minutes, my home was filled with the delectable scent of baking apples, lemon, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In less than an hour, we were scooping up vanilla ice cream and watching it soften as we covered it with hot apple crisp. "Bravo!" I thought as I took the first bite.