Saturday, October 15, 2011

Organic Local Apples

A new source for Organic Apples
Farmer, farmer put away your DDT now, 
I'll take spots on my apples, 
Leave me the birds and the bees... 

I love that song. The original. The remakes. Of course, we're not using DDT anymore, but there are plenty of other "proven safe" but make you (or me) nervous chemicals being sprayed on our agriculture still. Living in the mid-Atlantic, the problem I've found is that if you want local, as I generally prefer, you're going to have a tough time finding organic fruits. Sure, plenty of people have an apple or pear tree, or two, growing in their backyard. They don't touch it and it produces fine, if not beautiful, organic fruit. There is an organic blueberry farm not too farm from here (in Olney, Md), but blueberries are among the easiest fruit to grow organically. Tree fruit is tough.

So, I was delighted when a friend mentioned a source for organic apples out of Pennsylvania: Oyler's Organic Farms.  And I was thrilled when I saw the prices. Where the organic blueberry prices are several times those at the average pick-your-own farm (but chemical free), the organic apples were just plain normal grocery store prices. They sell #1 and #2 apples, by the 1/2 and full bushel. These aren't pick-your-own. You place and order, then drive to pick them up.

Since I had no idea what to expect, I went with a full bushel of #1 Ida Reds in a box. I figured the extra costs for #1 apples and also for the box, over a bag, might be worth it. The apples were $42 for 42 lbs! That's unbeatable in my book. Friends told me that they still used the #2 apples as eating apples, but that you'd have to cut pieces out here and there. I am processing a lot of my apples into sauce or freezing them for winter desserts, so you'd think I wouldn't mind cutting. I probably don't, but not cutting is even easier. And it would tell me what to expect.

My box of #1 Ida Reds

I was thrilled with these apples. They were indeed spots. All of them had some scab looking thing, but not a single one had an issue under the surface. Not one. I peeled and sliced about 30 apples (with the ever-helpful Pampered Chef tool) and found absolutely no problems. Another large bunch were sauced whole, but cored, and again, no issues.  The last big bunch went to making Fresh Apple salsa that I mentioned in my last post, for freezing. And, a handful went to the fridge.
All the apples had some blemishes like this
And all the apples looked great inside - like this !

There's still some time left for apple picking in the season. There's no doubt this is the best way for me to go. I'm looking forward to some York apples, which are supposedly much more sour, in the next few weeks. Yum yum.

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