Is there anything more delightful than an apple farm in the fall? Crisp and juicy, tart or sweet, raw or cooked, apples are a fabulous fruit. No wonder Adam gave up the garden of Eden.
Growing up on a small farm in rural Ontario, we enjoyed and preserved the best of the seasons, and that urge has never left me. Today, when our local apple farm, Myers, opens for the season we’re there every week to try out the most recently ripe from among their over 25 varieties. We take home “A” grade apples for eating and half-bushels of “C” grade apples for pie fillings, applesauce, cakes and chutney.
The Applesauce & Chutney go into jars that can be boiled to seal them for shelf storage, or stored in the fridge for shorter periods. The Apple Pie Fillings are destined for the freezer, split into single portions for easy use. Come winter, making pies are easy. The majority of the work is already done.
Making pies is an old-fashioned task, and many of us are haunted by the ghosts of soggy pie crusts and uncooked fillings from Occasions Past. No matter, we comfort ourselves, the “mystery of the pastry” is a strange and unholy ritual best left to grandmothers who seem to know what they’re doing. Buying ready made from the local grocer or bakery can be an excellent solution if you’re in a rush. If you have the time and the inclination, however, rest assured that making pies is actually not that difficult, just somewhat messy.
A successful pie hinges on a couple of factors:
- A reliable Basic Pastry recipe and a small degree of chutzpah during execution
- The correct kind of pie plate for the type of pie you want to make
- Metal for shallow pies or tarts, such as Latticed Apple Tart, in which case you can use uncooked fruit
- Ceramic or glass for deep dish pies, in which case partially pre-cook the fruit
Go ahead, give it a whirl. Have fun!