And you don’t need to do any peeling for Genevieve Ko’s apple crisp.
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By Melissa Clark
With crunchy, juicy, new-crop apples finally here to relieve their long-stored counterparts from last year, apple season is in full swing. There are approximately 7,500 varieties of apples currently grown in the world, and 2,500 in the United States alone. You’ll find only four or five kinds in most supermarkets, but your local farmers’ market will often stock dozens.
Even now, new cultivars are being bred at research orchards all over the world. For The Times, Elizabeth Landau visited one in Nova Scotia, where she talked to scientists who are studying the genetics of apple diversity. Their goal is to develop fruit that is “tastier, hardier, more disease-resistant and with longer shelf-life in the face of changing climates,” she writes — the Honeycrisps and SnapDragons of the future. That’s the apple update I’m most excited about.
Do you have a favorite apple? I love Braeburns, Winesaps and Honeycrisps for eating out of hand, but for pie baking I’m partial to firm cultivars such as Mutsus, Cortlands and Granny Smiths. I adore McIntoshes in autumn, when they’re super fresh, surprisingly sweet-tart and juicy. (The rest of the year they’re best for applesauce).
What else to cook with all your apples? You don’t have to peel them for Genevieve Ko’s easy, gently spiced apple crisp (above) — that’s my kind of recipe. These cinnamon-scented candy apples are slightly more involved, but worth it for the snap-crunch of that crisp sugar shell when you bite in.
On the savory side of apple cookery, you could make this sheet-pan chicken with apples, fennel and onion; it’s seasoned with fennel seeds to bring out the anise character of the roasted fennel bulb. Then to drink, how about Rosie Schaap’s apple cider and bourbon punch? Did you know it takes 20 pounds of apples to produce a gallon of cider?
Of course, autumn isn’t just about apples. Winter squash and gourds of all shapes and textures are on full display. (Remember this foul-mouthed classic?) I love the look of Ali Slagle’s whole roasted acorn squash. It couldn’t be easier: Roast the whole thing until both the skin and flesh become tender enough to scoop with a spoon. Then you can crack it open and drizzle it with all manner of condiments and sauces — hot honey, chile crisp, garlicky tahini, miso-sesame vinaigrette, browned butter, minty yogurt sauce. It’s one of those foundational recipes that you can apply to other squash varieties, too. And yes, you can eat the squash skin, which gets a little crisp as it roasts. Serve it as the star of the meal, or as a side dish with hot honey shrimp.
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This month, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Annie Ernaux, the poet laureate of the supermarket. Supermarkets figure in most, if not all, of her works. Her memoir “Look At the Lights, My Love” (“Regarde les lumières mon amour,” not yet translated) is a journal of her trips to one supermarket in 2012 and 2013. As she writes in “Exteriors,” a supermarket “can provide just as much meaning and human truth as a concert hall.”
I still think they don’t stock enough kinds of apples. See you on Wednesday.
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