Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Day at the Orchard

Every fall we spend a family day visiting a new apple orchard in the area. Once we visit all those within 1-2 hours driving distance, I am sure we will have favorites that will become regulars.
Yesterday we visited Door Creek Apple Orchard and had a great time. The sun was shining, Wes and his team of Morabs gave our family a ride in the carriage, and we filled several bags of apples. We came home with a peck of Cortlands and Jonagold. The photo shows the cortlands on the tree.

I really wanted to pick Galas, my favorite, but had a hard time finding any - I think they were well picked through. There may have been more somewhere else on the premises, but when you spend time at an orchard with an almost thirteen year old boy, it loses its leisurely ambiance at his constant urgency to be done so he can go home and do "his thing". Ah yes, I remember well the day he enjoyed our orchard outings...
Inside the store samples of Galas were available - yum, yum! Abby totally enjoyed hers as you can see.  I did learn something new from Tom, the orchard owner yesterday, about Cortlands. As you may note in the photo a few are shiny but others have a white wash appearance. It is NOT from pesticide, as I initially thought, as did some friends when mentioning it on facebook.
Tom explains, "Many people over the years have noticed the hazy appearance of Cortland apples.  They, more than most , show a "bloom" on their skin.  This is also very apparent on some of our grapes.  Fruit growers refer to this as  a "bloom" and it is mostly a function of an interaction between disorganized wax molecules and natural organisms like wild yeast strains.  Wine and hard cider makers often depend on these yeasts for fermentation.  I don't have a reason why some would be shiny and often wonder why myself.  We see terrific variation throughout the orchard.  If you rub a Cortland apple on your shirt it will become wonderfully shiny because you have flattened all the natural wax molecules arranging them in the  same plane.  It's always best to wash your fruit, but those Cortland apples were sprayed in the last week of July and environmental degradation should remove significant concerns about harmful chemical residue.  The "bloom" you noticed on our Cortlands is natural and neither a chemical residue or an eco-friendly bio-pesticide.  All apples have varying degrees of natural wax on their skin."

Who knew? We certainly did not! Take note that this natural wax molecule appearance may not be the same "polished shine" seen on apples in the grocery store. Today on Dr. Oz they talked about pesticide mounts found on grocery store produce.
Produce that the USDA tested with greatest amount of pesticide includes peaches (because of their soft skin and peach fuzz), strawberries, spinach and apples.

At Home Produce Cleanser
1 c. water
1 c. white vinegar
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 T. baking soda

Mix and pour into spray bottle. Spray mixture onto produce 2 minutes before rinsing well.   Note, it is real difficult to spray and wash produce such as softer spinach leaves - make it simple and buy organic.

The benefits of buying local are huge. Obviously, it gave me the ability to ask Tom about the haze seen on the Cortlands - other apples in the orchard did not have this that we noted. We learned something from a grower.  Try to ask the grower of bananas grown in Chili about the fruit...not!  Enjoy this time of the year the chance to visit local orchards and markets for the last remaining bell peppers (I snagged 15 peppers from the garden this evening - still green, so they can finish turning red and yellow indoors - our nights are getting dangerously cold.), squash, pumpkins, apples, pears and more. 

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