The Orchard’s Dazzling Foliage

Lapsley Orchard, Pomfret Center, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

THE APPLES ARE IN (except for a few stragglers), and now our attention shifts from the orchard to the supermarkets, farm stands, and orchard stores where delicious, nutritious New England apples will be found in the months ahead. Despite a smaller-than-normal 2020 crop, there will be plentiful supplies of locally grown apples in most places throughout winter and spring.

Pick-your-own season is over, and many orchards are now closed to the public. But apple trees keep on giving throughout the year. 

In winter, the trees form sculptural gardens of immense proportion and contrast, their unpredictable limbs, shaped by human hands, on symmetrical rows and grids.

Apple Hill Farm, Concord, New Hampshire. (Bar Lois Weeks)

For two weeks in May the orchard is alive with honeybees and other pollinators visiting a sea of pink-and-white blossoms. In summer, the orchard turns lush and verdant as the fruit grows.

Fall, of course, is the peak of the fresh harvest, an experience not to be missed, when the trees are loaded with ripe apples and the air is fragrant with their perfume. This was one of the busiest pick-your-own seasons in years as people flocked to the serenity of the orchard during the pandemic.

WHEN THE TREES have been picked clean, they pass through another brief, beautiful phase before winter. When people think New England fall foliage, they usually mean maples. But the apple trees — not to mention peaches and blueberry bushes — are just as colorful. The maples make a magnificent backdrop.

Many orchard stores remain open through the holidays, and some are year-round. Consult our Orchard Finder to see who grows what, and where to find your favorite apples.

Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown, Massachusetts. (Bar Lois Weeks)
Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Scott’s Yankee Farm, East Lyme, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks)

Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Bar Lois Weeks)
Blue Hills Orchard, Wallingford, Connecticut. (Bar Lois Weeks)
Buell’s Orchard, Eastford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Wellwood Orchards, Wethersfield, Vermont. (Russell Steven Powell)
Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Lapsley Orchard, Pomfret Center, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

With Thanksgiving approaching, here’s a recipe for Apple Stuffing.

Family Favorite Apple Stuffing

The recipe for Family Favorite Apple Stuffing was sent to us by reader Jan Ruby Crystal of Northampton, Massachusetts, who also provided us with Sunday Morning Apple Omelet. The stuffing is so flavorful it will be delicious made with any New England-grown apple.

Cornbread stuffing (or make your own cornbread and crumble into large pieces when cool)

2 Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or other New England apples

1 onion

2 stalks celery

1 c pecans or walnuts

10 dried apricots

2 carrots

1 stick butter

2 T olive oil

1 c apple cider

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a three-quart casserole dish.

Core apples and chop apples into 1/4″ chunks. Chop onion, celery, apricots, carrots. and nuts into 1/8″ pieces.

Toast nuts in a frying pan or toaster oven for several minutes, till fragrant. Watch closely, as they can easily burn.

In large frying pan or dutch oven, sauté onion and apple in 2 T olive oil and 1 T butter over medium-low heat until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add carrots and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Melt remaining 7 T butter and add to vegetables with cornbread or stuffing. Stir occasionally for a few more minutes.

Add cider and stir. Add nuts and apricots and stir. Transfer to casserole dish.

Bake for one hour.

Stuffing can also be placed in cleaned cavity of a chicken or turkey. Cooking time varies with size of bird.

4 Comments

  • Cynthia Croteau

    Dear Russell
    Thanks so much for the wonderful Emails. I enjoy them so much. The recipes are great.

  • John pease

    HI Russ, Is the orchard in Glastonbury on old tobacco land? It was at one time. You folks take some beautiful pictures, keep up the good work. John Pease

    • Russell Powell

      Thank you, John! I am not sure about Glastonbury; I’ll ask. There are plenty of farms in the Glastonbury area, though. Thanks for the history.

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