This weekend, I took a trip to the Nashoba Valley Winery & Orchard in Bolton, Massachusetts for some good old fashioned apple picking, and a tour of the winery! It was a gorgeous fall day, not a cloud in the sky – the weatherman even announced it was the perfect day for apple picking on our way there!
The winery produces all types of wines: apple, blueberry, cranberry, grape, cherry, and even strawberry rhubarb. In addition to the wines, Nashoba Valley also distills their own fruit brandies and liqueurs.
After the tour, we did a sampling of the various wines they make, and my favorite ended up being the Blueberry Merlot. It is a combination of grapes and blueberries, and I learned that the grape and blueberry skins are left on in the distilling process because they cause the rich purple color in the end.
After the winery tour, I picked a whole bushel of apples in the orchard! There were so many ripe, rosy-red apples, I didn’t even know where to begin! I was hoping they would have Honeycrisp apples, which I’ve heard are amaaaaaaaaaazing, but they were all picked out. So instead, I left with a mix of Macoun, Courtland, and McIntosh apples.
Macoun apples are a cross between McIntosh and Jersey Black apples, and are actually a parent of the Honeycrisp, so they are a close second I guess! The skin is dark red, with a purple tint, and the flesh tastes extra sweet, with a hint of berry. These apples are great for eating, and go well along with cheese and wine.
Courtland apples taste very similar to McIntosh apples, with a sweet, white flesh. The skin is a deep scarlet, against a pale yellow background, and is speckled with green. These apples are excellent for use in apple pies, because their firm flesh holds up well to the baking process.
When looking at McIntosh apples, don’t worry if it looks a little more green than red; McIntosh are typically a combination of red and green, and as long as it has a little red blush, it’s ripe for the picking. McIntosh apples are considered good apples for ciders and applesauce, because their tart flavor goes well alongside the added sugar. They are also great apples to munch on, so pack one in your lunch, or bring it along for a snack.
*These apples are between 70 and 80 calories each*
I am VERY excited to begin baking with my 30+ apples (yes, I said 30 – I did buy a bushel people!), so check back for some apple-icious recipes!
Poll the audience: What is your favorite apple to bake with? Favorite apple to eat?