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September 19, 2011

The Honey Crisp Apple

by Anne Paddock
When I was growing up, our neighborhood was adjacent to an apple orchard and the local kids would sneak into the fields when the pickers weren’t in sight, climb a tree and pick an apple off the branches to eat as an afternoon snack. The apples were not always beautiful but they were delicious and because they were so readily available, we took them for granted. Decades passed and the orchard was sold to real estate developers. Farms were consolidated and apples were mass-produced, imported and became readily available in grocery stores. Apples became more beautiful and shinier but they didn’t taste like those orchard apples.

I mourned apples the same way I mourned the loss of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and white corn. All of these items have become available in grocery stores year round, minus the taste. Once you’ve tasted a fresh raspberry off the bush or picked blueberries or strawberries and frantically shoved them in your mouth because you can’t get enough, or even shucked a fresh ear of white corn and eaten it raw, the taste doesn’t leave your memory.

A few years ago, I tasted a Honey Crisp apple for the first time and realized I could love apples again. Sweet with a very firm texture and slightly tart, the Honey Crisp has a muted red and green exterior. It’s not the most beautiful apple in the world but the Honey Crisp is the most flavorful apple I’ve ever tasted. Developed in Minnesota about 40 years ago but not available until the early 1990’s, the Honey Crisp apple is the caviar of apples (without the cost).  An early harvest apple that becomes available in late summer in Connecticut and is gone by early October, the Honey Crisp apple thankfully has a long shelf life if stored in a cool dry place.

One of the benefits of living in the northeast again is that Connecticut has wonderful fresh fruit grown locally. In Cheshire, there are four farms within a 3 mile radius that sell excellent fresh fruits and vegetables late Spring through Autumn.  So, if you happen to be on a Fall foliage road trip, stop in at one of the following farms:

Hickory Hill Orchards
351 South Meriden Road
Cheshire, CT 06410

Drazen Orchards
251 Wallingford Road
Cheshire, CT 06410

Bishop Farm
500 South Meriden Road
Cheshire, CT 06410

Norton Brothers Fruit Farm
466 Academy Road
Cheshire, CT 06410

When I first discovered these farms last year, I realized I was in apple picking country, literally. All of the above farms have fruit picking – apples, blueberries, raspberries, pears, and more – but the farms also have their own stand alone buildings where fruit and vegetables are sold along with cider, donuts, pumpkins, corn, and more.

This past weekend, I was at Norton Brothers Fruit Farm and bought freshly picked very sweet raspberries that reminded me of the berries in the Aix-en-Provence summer market, plump juicy blueberries, and 20 pounds of Honey Crisp apples that I plan to spend the next few weeks eating.

Norton Brothers Fruit Farm also ships fruit. 20 large Honey Crisp apples are $25 plus $15 for shipping. It’s worth every crispy bite.  But hurry, there’s only a few weeks left of Honey Crisps on the tree branches.

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