by Zoe Schweitzer
Ah, fall. Turning foliage, crisp temperatures, and the quintessential New England activity-apple picking. In addition to bright and sunny skies and an expansive orchard in front of me, I am confronted with the unexpected: long lines, utter chaos, high prices and more food waste than I ever could have imagined. Thank goodness for a friendly farmer. When I ask what happened to all of those perfectly beautiful apples on the ground, he lets me know that they would be rescued to be made into cider. He also lets me know that this particular orchard, C.N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, experiences about 50% waste for Pick-Your-Own apples. He explains that although there used to be a stronger attempt to explain this to customers and coach them through more responsible picking, the farm had a hard time finding anything that would resonate with customers and simply decided to raise prices instead to deal with the high waste rate.
At C.N. Smith Farm, Pick-Your-Own apples run $22 a peck (about thirty-two medium-sized apples) and $40 a bushel. When I visited, a few types of apples were available: Courtland, Macintosh, Honeycrisp and Macoun. I chose to pick a variety, deciding on a mix of Courtland (to bake with), Macintosh, (to bake with and eat) and Honeycrisp (mmmm). As I toted my peck of apples home, visions of baked apple goods filled my head. Although something traditional always works well, my thoughts went to this issue’s featured recipe: Apple Cheddar Cobbler. If you’re interested in visiting C.N. Smith Farm to pick your own apples for this delish dish, the address is below. Enjoy!
C.N. Smith Farm
325 South St East Bridgewater, MA 02333
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe for Tomato Cobbler
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Oil or butter for the baking dish
3 pounds apples, cut into wedges or large pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus some zest if you’re feeling ambitious)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into large pieces and refrigerated until very cold
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk*, plus more if needed (see note)
1/4-1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1. Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 375˚F.
2. Put the apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with the tablespoon of flour, sugar and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine.
3. Put the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a food processor along with a teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg and buttermilk and pulse a few times more, until the mixture comes together in a ball. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add a spoonful or two of flour. If the mixture is too dry, add a few drops of buttermilk.
4. Fold cheddar into biscuit batter.
5. Spread the apples in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on top and smooth a bit with a knife. (Try to leave some gaps so that the steam from the apple mixture will have a place to escape as the cobbler bakes.) Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden on top.
*A note about buttermilk: I hardly ever bake with buttermilk. Instead, I replace the amount of buttermilk that’s called for with soymilk, adding about a teaspoon of lemon juice to the soymilk, stirring, and waiting a few minutes for it to slightly curdle before adding it to the recipe.
Zoe Schweitzer is a 2nd year FPAN student and a Californian native by way of NYC. She enjoys picklebacks and oysters, in no particular order.