boy picking applesOne of my favorite things to do in the Fall is to take my kids to the apple orchard.  We each have our own favorite kinds of apples.  My favorite is the Honeycrisp, a man-made apple variety.  If you go to the orchard, you need to know when the different apples will be ready for picking.  The span is 3 months for most varieties in the midwest.

picking applesRadke Orchards is located in Northwest Indiana, just across the border from Illinois.  It takes about an hour to get there from Chicago.  Radke Orchards is more reasonably priced than comparable orchards nearby.  Radke doesn’t have much in their tiny store, but their trees are all tagged well, your kids can take an open truck ride through the orchards, and there are ladders for easy access.  I also love the homemade caramel, coming in every variety—watch out for kids with braces!

BEST VARIETIES FOR FALL APPLE PICKING IN THE MIDWEST (FROM RADKE ORCHARDS, WHO ALSO HAS OTHER APPLE VARIETIES)

Cameo

Cameo apple
· Sweet-tart flavor, firm apple
· Excellent for salads, pies, sauces, and baking
· Good for eating also
· Harvest time: mid-October

Cortland

Cortland apple
· Sweet with a hint of tartness
· Juicy
· Tender, snow white flesh
· Excellent for eating, salads, sauce, pies and baking
· Good for freezing
· Cortland apples do not turn brown quickly when cut.
· Harvest time: mid-September

Crispin/ Mutsu

Crispin/ Mutsu apple
· Sweet yet very refreshing
· Very juicy
· Super crisp
· Excellent for eating, sauce, baking and freezing
· Good for salads and pies
· Crispin favorite roast.
· Try Crispins for roasting whole apples or thick slices.
· Harvest time: mid-October

Empire

Empire apple
· A wonderful blend of sweet and tart
· Juicy
· Very crisp, creamy white flesh
· Excellent for eating and salads
· Good for sauce, baking, pies and freezing
· Small Empires are great for school lunches.
· Harvest time: early October

Fuji

Fuji apple
· Very mild sweet flavor
· Popular for desserts because of sweet flavor and good texture
· Store well
· Harvest time: late September

Gala

Gala apple
· Mild sweet flavor
· Juicy
· Crisp, creamy yellow flesh
· Excellent for eating and salads
· Gala’s size, mellow flavor and thin skin make them a perfect choice for kids
· Harvest time: early September

Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious apple
· Mild sweet flavor
· Juicy
· Crisp, light yellow flesh
· Excellent for eating, salads and sauce
· Good for pies, baking and freezing
· You can cut down the sugar in pies and sauces made from Golden Delicious apples.
· Harvest time: late September

Granny Smith

Granny Smith apple
· Pleasantly tart flavor
· Firm, crisp flesh
· Good for eating, baking, salads, pies and freezing.
· Keeps shape when cooked
· Harvest time: late October

Honeycrisp

Honeycrisp apple
· Complex sweet-tart flavor
· Super crisp yellow flesh
· Excellent for eating and salads
· Good for sauce, baking & pies
· This ultra crisp apple is a great way to encourage healthy snacking by children.
· Harvest time: early September

Idared

Idared apple
· Sweetly tart
· Juicy
· Firm pale yellow-green flesh, sometimes tinted rosy pink
· Excellent for sauce, cooking, baking and pies
· Good for eating, salads and freezing
· Idareds are good for making a beautiful pink applesauce.
· Harvest time: mid-October

Jonagold

Jonagold apple
· Honey sweet with a hint of tartness
· Juicy
· Crisp, creamy yellow flesh
· Excellent for eating, salads, sauce and baking
· Good for pies and freezing
· Jonagolds make great fried apples. Simply sauté in a little butter and add a little cinnamon.
· Harvest time: early October

Jonathan

Jonathan apple
· Crisp and juicy, tart flavor
· Excellent for eating and baking
· Good for salads, sauces, and pies
· Harvest time: mid-September

McIntosh

McIntosh apple
· Sweet with a tart tang
· Very juicy
· Tender, white flesh
· Excellent for eating and sauce
· Good for salads and pies
· McIntosh’s tender flesh cooks down quickly. Add a thickener if making a pie.
· Harvest time: early September

Red Delicious

Red Delicious apple
· Sweet
· Juicy
· Crisp, yellow flesh
· Excellent for eating and salads
· Red Delicious apples look great for a long time and are the favored choice for holiday centerpieces.
· Harvest time: late September

GREAT APPLE RECIPES

1) RADKE’S APPLESAUCE

This is our method of producing applesauce. You can make as little or as much as you like.

We wash and quarter the apples, taking out the seeds but leaving the skin. The skin contains the natural pectin that will thicken the sauce. We use our seconds for sauce so we do take out any bad spots from the apples. Place the apples in a saucepan and add a very little amount of water. Cook the apples, stirring as necessary to prevent sticking. We put the mixture through a food mill to remove the skins and any seeds. Wait until the sauce cools before deciding if any extra sugar is needed. We don’t add any extra sugar to our sauce.  We often use a mixture of apples. Golden Delicious apples used alone makes a lighter colored sauce.  We prefer freezing the sauce using canning jars that are freezer safe. We have canned sauce using the hot water bath method.

2)  RADKE’S APPLE CRISP

  • 6 cups sliced, peeled apples
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place apples in 8×8 baking pan. Mix remaining ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples.

Melt 1/3 cup butter and drizzle on apple mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. This recipe comes from the St. Paul Lutheran Cookbook, Otis, IN through Bonnie Martin’s Aunt, Lois Burge.

Radke Orchard traditions – I’ve seen my mother-in-law, Gladys Radke, sprinkle a little vanilla and/or cinnamon over the apples before she adds the crust mixture. She adds the cinnamon before the crust because the cinnamon on top makes the crust a darker brown. She adds the vanilla because her mother-in-law, Jessie Radke, always added vanilla to enhance the apple flavor. When doubling this recipe, sometimes more crust mixture is necessary. We prefer Ida Red apples, although Golden Delicious work well also. Mutzu makes a crisper crisp, as those apples remain crisp when baked. A soft apple, such as McIntosh, makes a softer crisp. We use enough apples to generously fill the baking dish.
Jennifer Litwin