A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Apples, Apples, Everywhere

October 3rd, 2003

Apple picking is one of the great joys of fall. A recent visit to the Halsey Apple Orchard in Bridgehampton, NY was an experience. John Halsey is an 11th generation farmer, and he grows 23 varieties of apples on 20 acres. Since apples mature at different times, 4 were available for picking: McIntosh and Jonamacs both semi-tart, and Empires and Cortlands which are tart varieties. Not only is it a treat to walk the of acres of farmland, but selecting your favorite apples right from the tree is the best way to enjoy their freshness.

Ever notice how a just picked apple is crisp, tart, and bursting with fresh flavor? How about apples in March? Aren’t they often tasteless with a mushy texture? The reason is that apples only hold there flavor for about a month after they are picked, then they begin to deteriorate. So, how do we know if they are fresh? Look for the bloom. No, it’s not a flower, it’s the natural white film that forms on the skin of an apple which is a byproduct of the fresh sugars inside. Unfortunately, that shiny bright apple on the grocer’s shelf may look pretty, but good luck trying to tell if it’s fresh. Your best bet is to support your local farmers at their orchard or at a farmers market.

Apples range from sweet to tart, and which is best is a matter of personal preference. Most farm stands will allow you to sample the different varieties available. It is important to keep in mind, however, that you want a firm apple if you are making pies. For applesauce I prefer a tart apple such as a Cortland. The following recipe is a simple, yet delicious chunk style, unsweetened applesauce. For a slightly sweeter taste, add a little brown sugar.

Apple Sauce
6 apples peeled, cored and cut in 2 inch chunks
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon juiced
1/2 cup water
Heat ingredients for 10 minutes at medium heat, then simmer with top on until desired consistency is reached.

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