Awash with Apples

CrimsonCrisp apples, Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

NEW ENGLAND ORCHARDS that escaped the late frost in part or full — and they are the vast majority — have some beautiful crops and currently are awash with apples.

Three Massachusetts orchards from across the state will display some of their bounty this weekend with 11 different varieties fresh off the trees at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”).

The 17-day fair, the nation’s fifth largest, opens tomorrow through Sunday, October 1.

Nestrovich Fruit Farm in Granville has Cortland, Gala, and RubyMac.

Red Apple Farm in Phillipston features Ginger Gold, Paula Red, and Red Gravenstein.

Tougas Family Farm in Northborough adds Akane, Blondee, Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, and Sansa.

There is a flavor for every taste!

To make your plans for visiting an orchard, use our Orchard Finder for contact and product information, and call ahead to see what’s picking.

Honeycrisp apples, Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

There’s nothing like seeing where your apples are grown, and at most orchards there is so much more, from pumpkins to apple pie to cider donuts.

But if you can’t make it out to the orchard or are simply visiting the fair, stop by the New England Apple booth in the Massachusetts Building. In addition to fresh apples, we’ll have Carlson Orchards fresh cider (hot or cold), single-serving apple pies, apple squares, and cider donuts.

Building hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m daily.

Click on the apple or orchard name to learn more about it!

Golden Delicious apples, Nestrovich Fruit Farm, Granville, Massachusetts, will be ready in a few weeks. (Russell Steven Powell)

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WITH THE BIG E OPENING tomorrow and requests for this recipe coming in, it seems an appropriate time to repost this entry from 2021:

Irresistible Apple Crisp

The countertop apple peeler saves a good deal of time. (Bar Lois Weeks)

IS THERE ANOTHER FOOD as universally craved as apple crisp? Our informal survey at the recently completed “Big E,” New England’s largest fair, suggests not.

Demand for this delectable apple treat reached near-fever pitch at our New England Apple Association booth in the Massachusetts Building at the 17-day event. Many people told us that they made the pilgrimage to our booth solely for the apple crisp. The faces of others lit up when they saw it on our menu. Their minds were instantly made up.

The apples can be sliced or cut into bite-sized pieces. (Bar Lois Weeks)

Others stood patiently for up to half an hour waiting for the next tray to emerge from the oven when we couldn’t keep up. Despite our warnings, they took it steaming hot!

We had to disappoint many, alas, as we were only able to serve apple crisp on weekends. For good reason: all 32 trays were made individually by hand by booth manager Bar Lois Weeks. Supply and demand were turned on their heads, as the homemade crisp from Bar’s family recipe was better than ever, while there was less of it to go around.

We hope to have more at the fair next year. In the meantime, apple crisp is easy to make at home using the very same recipe. Almost any apple, or a combination, can make a great crisp. Many of Bar’s trays used single varieties like early season apples Akane, Ginger Gold, and Paula Red. By the end of the fair she was mixing in Cortland, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, and Macoun.

Chunks of butter are good sized when the crisp topping begins. (Bar Lois Weeks)
The pieces become smaller and rounded as the butter is mixed in. (Bar Lois Weeks)

SOME VARIETIES produce more juice than others, or take different times to cook until the apples are soft, but all make outstanding crisp. As with apple pie, use plenty of apples! They tend to cook down when baked, so you almost can’t use too many.

The crisp topping is now ready to cover the apples. (Bar Lois Weeks)

The soft, juicy apples contrast nicely with the crumb topping, which adds a satisfying, buttery crunch without overpowering the sweet, tangy apple flavor. The result practically melts in the mouth.

Grandmother Lois’s Apple Crisp is almost guaranteed to please anyone lucky enough to try some, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, or by itself. No matter how you eat it, this deep-dish apple sweetness is practically irresistible.

But beware! Making apple crisp in huge quantities can be dangerous, as Bar relates:


Bar Lois Weeks peels apples for crisp in the New England Apple booth in the Massachusetts Building at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) in September. (Russell Steven Powell)

NOBODY WAS MORE SURPRISED than we were by skyrocketing apple crisp sales at The Big E this pandemic year. Whether it was a desire for comfort food in these uncertain times or nostalgia for Grandmother, we were not prepared. 

I was also not prepared for recurring dreams of the indistinguishable sea of customers at the foot of our bed each night, all with the same order: “Apple crisp with ice cream.”

I’d half wake up, tell myself out loud, “There are no other people in the bedroom!” and fall back asleep to the same nightmarish dream.

Follow my family’s tried-and-true recipe, but be prepared for an onslaught.

Grandmother Lois’s Apple Crisp is best made in a deep dish to make room for plenty of apples. (Bar Lois Weeks)

Grandmother Lois’s Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Fill a deep baking dish or an 8”x8” pan with 6-8 New England apples, like McIntosh, Cortland, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Empire, and/or Honeycrisp.

Sprinkle over the apples: 

1/4 c sugar

2 t cinnamon

Mix together by hand and cover apples with the topping:

1/2 c cold, cubed butter

2/3 c brown sugar

3/4 c flour (half white whole-wheat)

3/4 c old-fashioned oats

As you squeeze handfuls, the cold butter softens and is absorbed into the dry ingredients. You’ll know when you’re done — the color will have changed from a light camel to a darker brown. Cover apples right to the edge with topping.

Bake 45 minutes until bubbly around the edges.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream.

Apple crisp with ice cream. (Bar Lois Weeks)


  • Leslie Mason

    So glad the Big E happened and your great booth soared with Apple Crisp sales. Bar, your nightmare of endless customer at the foot of your bed was hilarious!!! Thanks, xo to you each and both from Kittery Maine

  • Sharon

    Thanks for sharing!
    Certainly a favorite at our house!