Apples! Ready or not, here they come

oakleaf hydrangea fall color

Autumn leaf time coming right up. This is Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) demonstrating a quarter of its 4-season appeal.

It was warm when we got to the Hudson Valley the other day. Then it got warmer, and warmer, topping out yesterday – I hope! –  at about eighty-five. “ September is the new August,” said Bill, with more than a little justification.

Lespedeza thunbergii in bloom

August/September-blooming Lespedeza thunbergii, in full regalia in front of the barn.

But there’s more to seasons than temperature, and (so far) the Earth’s orbit hasn’t changed. The solstice is behind us and apples are ripening, whether we like it or not.

What’s not to like? Well, in addition to the part where I for one am not ready to say goodbye to nectarines, there’s having the next chapter of harvest pressure while the tomatoes are still going almost full tilt.

Like tomatoes, apples are seasonal. The fact that they’re are available year round doesn’t mean that they’re delicious year round, and of course non-industrial varieties like Golden Russet, Northern Spy and Winesap aren’t available year round. Buy them in fall or don’t buy them at all.

This sounds like one of those “well, duh” announcements, but I figure it never hurts to underscore the obvious when so much great fruit is at stake. Eat it or lose it doesn’t just apply to heirloom pigs and chickens; orchardists aren’t going to plant trees that can take ten or more years to bear if they’re not confident of customers for the eventual fruit.

Plus I just finished complaining about the absence of diversity in the presidential apple bowl, so it seems only reasonable to plug the fruit in question.

assembled apple pie

Assembled apple pie – super crisp crust guaranteed.

Apple shopping, apple storage and descriptions of 9 outstanding varieties ride along with the recipe for this easiest, most foolproof of apple pies.

My favorite 2- minute processor pie crust (something that is great all year round) is here.

More on the outstanding apple front, this time including the lowdown on Rhode Island Greenings, which for some reason (I may not have been able to find any) were not mentioned in the pie post even though they are the pie apples par excellence, comes with the recipe for my favorite apple cake, a velvety bundt number loaded with apples and walnuts.

apple and walnut bundt cake

Chunky Apple Cake. It's somewhere between coffeecake and banana bread, not unduly sweet, very fruity and possibly even better stale than fresh because once it starts getting sturdy it makes terrific toast.

Unless you have a controlled atmosphere warehouse, the best way to store short-season apples is to make lots of applesauce. The smooth kind freezes very well; chunky stays chunkier if you can it.


1. The plant photographs were taken in 2009. This year, the hydrangea is still green, evil drought notwithstanding, and the lespedeza is not yet in full bloom because it already bloomed so long ago the buds and flowers it’s sporting now are the second round.

2. The Stayman Winesap in the apple cake post is not the same as either the Stayman or the Winesap in the pie post. Just a tiny window into the vast diversity of apples still available to those who search for them.

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  • I love the idea of an apple cake that is even better stale–as toast. Welcome back to the Hudson Valley!

  • Julia Said,

    Welcome back, indeed! That cake looks like a must-try! So, did you find Greenings? I just bought a few yesterday (along with some quinces and crabapples). It wasn’t specified what kind of Greening it was, fyi, but the orchard was in Milton, NY. Locust Grove Fruit Farm. Wholesale only. Sweet people, beautiful orchard!

  • Tatiana Said,

    I’m in love with the harvesty look of that pie! Also went to the farmers market today and bought some amazing varieties – something ‘ginger’… amazing.

  • Rimma Said,

    I did love your lespedeza so much, but I did not know anything about it until then. After that I started hunting fot it in all garden center around. No luck. Finally I mailodered it from the Bluestone perennials. It is on its first year now, but set a lot of flowers. Thank you for such a beautifull plant!

    Welcome, Rimma

    I’m so glad to hear you found a lespedeza AND that it’s doing well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in a garden center. Seems odd, given that reliable fall bloomers are so few and far between, but I guess most places are reluctant to stock plants that don’t look like much in the big spring selling season.

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