Kordick Family Farm
Home of Baba Yaga’s Apples of Eternal Youth
first generation apple farmers
Kordick Family Farm is a mother-daughter operation that was founded in 2009, when we planted our first 850 apple trees in Stokes County, NC. We primarily grow heirloom, regional, and cider apple varieties, with several grafted from local sources. Sorry, you won’t find any HoneyCrisp apples on this farm. We are continually experimenting in our efforts to be as holistic as possible in practice.
At a time when most commercial orchards are moving towards high-density dwarf variety plantings of trees, our MM111 semi-dwarf trees…
…are huge by current standards, the kind of tall, sprawling trees that used to be the norm in American orchards. Growing to about 20 feet high and spaced about 16 feet apart, they require ladders to pick the fruit, but aesthetically, we just like big apple trees that you can climb in, as well as the idea that they will be here long after we’re gone. And practically-speaking, our large trees are much more hardy and self-reliant than dwarf varieties, which is always a plus in a two-person operation.
In recent years, we have expanded our apple orchard to include about 1,800 trees total, representing about 175 different apple varieties. We still graft every single apple tree we plant. We also have a small pear orchard and handfuls of other fruits, including peaches, plums, figs, che fruit, and blackberries, planted on the farm. In coming years, we will be expanding our pear planting, and are always interested in adding more tree fruits (some familiar, and some quite exotic) into the mix.
The first members of our family to emigrate from Russia to the United States came in the early 1900’s by way of Ellis Island. They settled in a Northeastern mill town and eventually started a small dairy and subsistence farm. Some of the fruit trees they planted still stand on the old homestead, and while…
…the first Kordicks in this country became proud Americans, they also left behind an appreciation for certain Old World customs and folklore that our family continues to enjoy today.
Every culture seems to have a bogeyman of sorts that is held over the heads of misbehaving children, and in Russia and several other Eastern European countries, children were raised to beware lest Baba Yaga, a rugged forest witch, seize them and gobble them up. Baba Yaga features in many famous Russian stories, often as a fearsome antagonist, yet she is also frequently portrayed as simply a wise old woman (or women, as she also may be depicted as three sisters) of the woods who serves as a guide to the heroes and heroines of folklore.
Baba Yaga's Apples of Eternal Youth story
Like many apple growers of the last century, we have deliberately branded our apples with an eye-catching logo and artwork. 20th Century fruit crate labels are now collectibles, sought after for the evocative art that was meant to catch consumers’ eyes on city streets and entice them to gravitate towards one grower’s fruits over another’s.
There is a Baba Yaga fairy tale about a quest for golden apples that bring eternal youth to those who possess them, and it was this story that inspired us to stylize our…
…apples as “Baba Yaga’s Apples of Eternal Youth,” and to come up with our own version of the story, as well as revive the old fruit crate label tradition.
We worked with Greensboro-based artist Liz McKinnon (www.heartshinestudios.com) to design a watercolor illustration of Baba Yaga with the famed apples, not in Old World Russia, but in our neck of the North Carolina foothills. As the crow flies, Kordick Family Farm is about 15 minutes north of Pilot Mountain, and we have a postcard view of the knob from the center of our property. To our west lie the Blue Ridge Mountains, while the Sauratown range borders us to the east. The Dan River is mere minutes away to the south of the farm.
Our Apple Cider Syrup
It takes a long time for large apple trees to start bearing fruit, period. And if you’re trying to grow apples in the Southeast, it takes an even longer time to hit upon the right mix of practices to produce fruit of consistently high quality. This means we’ve had a lot of time to think about what we want to do with our apples, and smaller quantities of fruit to play around with. In this manner, we created our flagship product: Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup.
Much like hard cider, apple cider syrup was …
…an American staple in past centuries, a stable, homegrown sweetener that had endless uses. However, with the advent of granulated sugar (and probably also due to the widespread razing of American apple orchards during Prohibition), cider syrup all but disappeared from the pantry.
When we became interested in re-introducing cider syrup, we sought out the local Southern experts: sorghum syrup producers. A very generous, close-knit community, our new friends taught us the sorghum syrup-making process and helped us adapt it to cider syrup.
Starting with 100% farm-pressed apple juice (cider), we boil enormous pans over a wood fire for hours until it is reduced to about 1/10 of the original volume. At this point, the sugars have concentrated to form a thickened syrup that is wonderfully fragrant and tangy in apple flavor, and is ready for . . . almost anything.
Really. It is actually easier and infinitely quicker to list the things that cider syrup wouldn’t be good on (Fish? Well, some fish. It’s actually wonderful on salmon!). The most obvious, and hard-to-beat, application is to pour cider syrup over pancakes, biscuits, and other breakfast pastries. Perhaps the most unexpected use, however, is to make a braise or sauce for savory items like pork roast or sweet potato gratin/casserole. It even pairs well with salads in the form of a vinaigrette. Try drizzling it over ice cream or yogurt, spoon it on top of oatmeal, add it to popcorn . . . Beverage-wise, you can make an instant cup of hot cider by adding about 4 Tbsp (or to taste) cider syrup to a cup of hot water. Add a shot of brandy or rum to your cup, or add cider syrup to any number of cocktails and mixed drinks. Finally, cider syrup can be used in baking, much like maple syrup.
Apple cider syrup is a staple that never should have left the American kitchen.
our growing practices
Like many unconventional farmers, we have struggled to find a term that describes our growing practices, while also communicating in a single word our management philosophy to consumers. ‘Natural’ and ‘sustainable’ mean nothing without context. ‘Low-spray’ can be used by growers who spray conventional chemicals, but at their lowest possible application rates. Most of the materials we apply happen to be approved by OMRI (the Organic Materials Review Institute), however, use of the term ‘organic’ implies certification, which we are not. We are beyond organic at this point in our growing careers, and have finally settled on the term, ‘holistic,’ in the sense championed by Michael Phillips and the Holistic Orchard Network, of which we are proud members (http://www.groworganicapples.com).
Over the years we have found the most widely available commercial formulations of organic chemicals tend to have one thing in common: it’s not so much that they work well against pests and disease and truly promote good crop health; more so, it’s that they do no harm. Low efficacy coupled with premium price tags just doesn’t cut it on our farm, and after losing apple crop after apple crop in spite of our diligent lockstep organic program, we decided we needed to find a better way to grow. We think we’ve found it. To large extent, we have stopped thinking like conventional and conventional organic growers, who are mostly concerned with preempting pest and disease pressure with preventative chemical sprays, as well as responding with curative formulations once pest and disease pressure is in evidence.
Instead, we focus on cultivating trees, and indeed, an orchard environment, of such optimal overall health that it is not as sensitive to a disease or pest outbreak, not unlike a person who eats healthy, doesn’t try to sterilize everything in sight, but maintains good hygiene, and thus is much less likely to be laid up by the latest bug going around. To that end, we nurture the root zone environment with inputs like hay and wood chips to promote a healthy fungal ecosystem that gives tree roots access to all manner of good nutrition. We also regularly apply beneficial microbes, along with fatty oils for them to feed on, to promote canopy colonization by species that work symbiotically with the tree, again to the end of excellent nutritive uptake, while also taking up space that might otherwise be “infected” by “bad” bacterial species that cause disease. And as we transition to this new way of growing, we do spray the occasional broad spectrum knockdown like copper or PerCarb, though not anywhere near as often as we did in the past, and for different purpose. Using the aforementioned chemicals as an example, when we come in and sanitize the fungal and bacterial populations with a tree spray, we don’t leave it that way and then try to maintain a sterile environment with regular subsequent sprays. What we want is to start with a clean slate for an application of beneficial microbes and to nurture this population for as long as possible. It’s all about using your tools wisely, and as it gets harder and harder to grow fruit period, we need an effective grower’s toolbox.
This is not our great-grandparents’ farmstead orchard. In the early and mid 20th Century, they simply did not have the disease and pest pressures that have spread with globalization. Also, people back then did not put quite so high a premium on fresh fruit appearance. Nowadays there are so many potential and wide-ranging issues to worry about it makes our heads spin. Unsurprisingly, the West Coast of the United States is a much more ideal environment for growing apples in general, and organic apples in particular. Plum curculio, one of the hardest pests for organic East Coast growers to control, doesn’t occur in the western half of North America, and until recently, fireblight, a devastating bacterial disease on the East Coast, wasn’t an issue either. Throwing in the endemic fungal disease smorgasbord of the humid South makes it especially tricky, to say the least, for apple growers in the Southeast who are trying to maintain a remotely organic orchard.
A lot goes into orchard management. As mentioned above, we mulch with hay whenever possible for weed suppression and cultivation of a healthy root zone. We utilize untreated trap crops and sacrifice the fruit to certain pests in the hope that it prevents them from entering the orchard proper and causing damage. We collect fallen apples and diseased prunings for burning so they don’t serve as vectors for future pest and disease development. In short, we do everything we can to reduce the need to spray — indeed, it’s a rare grower who is enthusiastic about spraying anything. Whether you’re spraying conventional or unconventional nutrients, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or even beneficial bacteria, it’s a time-consuming, fuel-eating, equipment-wearing hassle, and often a very expensive and potentially dangerous one. If a farmer is spraying anything, it’s because he or she truly thinks their crop and livelihood depends on it. Talk to us — most farmers would love a chance to have an honest discussion about growing practices rather than be bound by the are-you-organic-or-not litmus test.
Organic chemicals and materials can be abused as much as conventional ones, can be just as bad for pollinators, and can also accumulate to the detriment of the environment. In addition, decreased efficacy often means increased application. You can go out of your way to avoid synthetic chemicals derived from fossil fuels, but if you have to spend more time on your tractor burning fuel and compacting the soil in order to apply them, is that sustainable? Rather than lecture you on our definition of sustainability, we will keep an updated list on this website of what we spray and why, as well as this discussion of practices, as it evolves, and you can decide for yourself if this meets your definition of sustainability.
We maintain mason bee houses in the orchard, as well as honeybees and pastured rabbits. If we wear any safety clothing/masks while spraying, it’s generally to keep from getting soaked and filthy. We don’t spray anything that we consider unsafe to our bees, livestock, or ourselves.
Oxidate 5.0: an OMRI-listed hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria and fungi. We use this in the early spring pre-bloom as a broad knock-down to help create a blank slate for our subsequent beneficial bacteria applications.
Nordox WP: an OMRI-listed slow-release copper formulation that kills bacteria and fungi, and also helps prevent frost molecules from forming. Sometimes applied in the spring pre-bloom to give us some protection when the trees are most vulnerable to infections and frost damage.
AgriPhage: OMRI-listed, contains bacteriophages that specifically target the bacterium responsible for fireblight. After several years of steadily increasing fireblight pressure in the orchard, we have finally found a biological product that can make even the worst shoot blight take a seat on the bus like everybody else.
Core Holistic Spray: a rotating cocktail applied ten or more times a growing season for nutrition and disease/pest prevention, including some or all of the following — Ahimsa pure neem oil (OMRI-listed)*, Ahimsa karanja oil (OMRI-listed), EM-1 beneficial microbes (OMRI-listed, and brewed on-farm from a mother culture), SeaCrop sea minerals (OMRI-listed), AEA Micropak trace minerals (OMRI-listed), Charley’s Soap (a locally-made, environmentally-friendly soap that we use to help emulsify the brew components)
Xentari Bt: an OMRI-listed, specifically honeybee-friendly, Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, that attacks certain insect larvae
Isomate mating disruptors: OMRI-listed dispensers that are hung from tree canopies to release mating pheromones of Oriental fruit moth and codling moth to make it harder for adults to find each other and reproduce within the orchard.
Quantum Light: a supplement to our EM-1 beneficial microbes, which are primarily composed of lactic acid bacteria. Quantum Light contains “the purple guys,” varieties of photosynthetic bacteria, which colonize apple leaves when applied, and help make nutrients available for the trees specifically via photosynthesis.
Lime Sulfur: OMRI-listed, but our least favorite thing in the world to spray! It is very caustic and can cause severe corrosion on equipment and our persons (burns), but it is very useful when severe broad-spectrum disease clean-up is needed in the orchard. Can also be used as to thin blossoms during bloomtime, but of course, it also kills beneficial fungi and bacteria. For that reason, it is often used pre-beneficial biological applications to create a blank slate to start from.
Blossom Protect/Buffer Protect: OMRI-listed strains of Aureobasidium pullulans that provide protection against early season fireblight by colonizing blossoms in a prophylactic manner and creating an inhospitable environment for fireblight-causing bacteria by acidifying the blossom interior.
Lalstop G46: OMRI-listed Gliocladium catenulatum, a naturally occurring, saprophytic fungus that thrives in cool climates (or very early spring in the South) and provides an early season protective barrier against pathogens (we’re specifically targeting fungal rots like Colletotrichum), and parasitizes them, to boot.
Howler: an OMRI-listed Pseudomonas chlororaphis formulation that provides preventative control against fruit rot pathogens via several modes of action.
Grandevo: OMRI-listed formulation of Chromobacterium subtsugae strain and spent fermentation media that afflicts our archnemesis, plum curculio, as a stomach poison.
*In 2022, we will switch from using Ahimsa pure neem oil in our core holistic spray to TerraMerra’s TerraNeem, an OMRI-listed 85% neem formulation with significantly higher azadirachtin, the chemical compound found in neem oil that is responsible for its insecticidal properties. After a particularly bad aphid year in 2020, we feel the need to beef up our core holistic spray a notch, while still providing most of the fatty acids that support our EM-1 beneficial bacteria
Got questions or concerns? Check out our contact info further down on this page and drop us a line.
Ah, April, when the early apple trees enter petal fall stage, fruitlets begin to develop . . . and plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar) rears its ugly, little head. Plum curculio may be tiny, usually only a quarter of an inch or less in length, but it causes bigtime damage in Eastern fruit orchards every year. There are many growers who are organic in every way, save the exceptions they make to combat plum curculio. A hard-bodied, extremely tenacious weevil, its modus operandi is to overwinter in the woods surrounding orchards, then move into the orchard proper at petal fall with the goal of laying as many eggs as possible in developing fruits.
The larvae develop inside the fruitlets, causing damage one of two ways: 1) the larvae fully develop, secreting certain chemicals that make the fruitlet drop to the ground, where the grown larvae can penetrate the soil to complete the life cycle, or 2) the larvae may be crushed to death as the young fruitlet grows rapidly, leaving the initial damage from the egg deposit as a gateway for other pests and diseases. Either way, they are a major, major headache that growers have been battling for a century or more. There are neat photographs of early twentieth century growers out with large teams, literally beating the trees to shake the curculio adults onto sheets spread below the trees, to be removed from the orchard for certain destruction.
The key to controlling plum curculio is stopping the population cycle — you want to reduce the number of egg-laying adults that you will have to combat the next year, so most of the time, you’re actually targeting the larvae themselves in a number of ways.
We have planted trap crops of early-fruiting plum and peach trees so we can sacrifice the fruit to the plum curculio and target the larvae before they move into the later-fruiting apples. Sound theory, but it doesn’t always work so well since, in this area, cold springs often preclude peach, and especially plum, fruitset. So most of the plum curculio probably make it past the trap crop in any given year to the orchard proper.
The next line of defense is to apply coats of refined kaolin clay to your trees. The clay particles slough off onto curculios making their way into the trees, getting into all their orifices and irritating them. The idea is to convince them that our apple trees are just not worth the pain and suffering. But in order to be effective, kaolin clay has to be applied in a heavy and consistent enough layer, easier said than done around bloomtime, when growers are busiest and the weather is rainiest (the clay will wash off in rain, so many layers are required).
So historically, many adults do succeed in their raison d’etre, to deposit their eggs under the skin of our new apples. But we still need to target the larvae in order to prevent a larger repeat of this whole cycle the next year. One thing we are experimenting with this year is to apply parasitic nematodes to the soil beneath trees, where they will happily gobble up plum curculio larvae after they penetrate the soil.
We only have a few apple varieties at the petal fall stage right now, but in the last two days, have casually stumbled upon two plum curculio adults in the central orchard. Scary stuff, indicative of a very large population that is up on its game. This year we will also be applying Venerate, an OMRI-approved formulation of heat-killed bacteria, which secrete natural, exoskeleton-targeting toxins that interrupt the plum curculios’ molting process, leading to death. We’ll have to wait out the rain for the next three days, and keep our fingers crossed that we’re not too late.
Spring Work: Toto, I don’t think we’re in winter anymore. We pick up our pace as the trees start to wake up in March, and by the time bloom hits at the end of the month and beginning of April, we are flat out. Everything we are doing now has season-long ramifications, so we do our best to get our pruning done, chip up the resulting brush, do a full orchard mow to break down any remaining fallen leaves, put together our spray and management plan for the year, order and procure supplies, etc. Our motto this time of the year: Fear the bloom! Seriously, there is never enough time in the spring, but the trees wait for no one.
GOT APPLE TREES? KFF has dozens of varieties of heirloom apple trees for sale in various sizes, all grafted onto MM111 rootstock (a large semi-dwarf size that will top out at 18-25 feet tall on average). NOTE: OUR TREE NURSERY IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON AND WE WILL PICK BACK UP AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER! Please call us at (336) 351-5186 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to check out our nursery.
PLEASE NOTE, WE CAN ONLY ACCEPT CASH OR CHECK AT KFF!
Can’t make it to our orchard packhouse? Want to purchase some of our products with a credit card? We are pleased to announce that our Etsy store is open for business! Click this link to visit KordickFamilyFarm on Etsy! Note, we are not currently selling or shipping trees via Etsy, but you can find many of our other orchard products there.
CHECK OUT OUR WEATHER STATION!
Thanks in large part to an NC AgVentures grant, we installed a RainWise weather station at the orchard in winter 2021. Having such site-specific weather data at our fingertips will help us make better management decisions. And since our information is public, local gardeners and growers can also benefit.
Check out our current weather conditions via our RainWiseNet webpage!
Check out our local pest and disease forecasts via our NEWA (Network for Environmental and Weather Applications) webpage! (Select “Westfield” from the drop-down weather station list.)
This pile of stuff was once an enormous 100 year-old cider press, and soon it will be again . . . when we find the time and space to get it up and running again. Stay tuned. For now, it’s a sight to see, with all its fascinating nuts and bolts (and massive pulleys) on display in the orchard packhouse.
End of May means fruit is on the way! We can now say we are looking at a light apple year overall. The cumulative effects of multiple hard freezes, coupled with an “off year” in some of the varieties that are shifting into biennial bearing now, have added up to sparse fruitset on the whole. Interestingly, though, some of our earliest bloomers, including ‘Redfield,’ ‘Hewes Crab,’ and ‘Burford’s Redflesh,’ did actually set good crops, and we are taking great pains to protect every bit of that fruit.
Some of you may remember that last year we began trialing Japanese apple bags in our orchard as a physical method of protection against pests and diseases. The bags worked amazingly well for us, and now that we’ve checked the efficacy box, we’re deploying more this year and moving on to evaluating the practicality of bagging apples. Of course, it’s one thing to leisurely bag 250 apples scattered throughout the orchard as an experiment, but it’s quite another to conceive of bagging an entire tree’s worth of fruit . . . times thousands of trees.
Still, we’ve found the benefits of bagging to be so wide-ranging as to mitigate the painstaking labor involved. In one fell swoop, you are protecting against deer damage, hail, sunburn, fungal and bacterial pathogens. Think of all the potential labor and cost savings across the board! You’re also necessarily thinning as you go, so thinning gets checked off the to-do list. And we were pleasantly surprised at the season extension possibilities: some of the traditionally Northern apple varieties we grow ripen frustratingly early in the Southeast (it is nuts to be picking ‘Wolf River’ apples, thought of as a late fall apple, in August!). The bagged versions of these apples, flawless as well as delicious, ripened months later than their unbagged counterparts in some cases!
We will keep you posted as the apple bagging trials continue to unfold, but while the commercial scale possibilities still need more evaluation in our orchard, we wholeheartedly recommend bagging for hobbyist and small-scale growers as a way to avoid spraying regularly for pest and disease prevention, putting up a deer fence, etc., and ensuring you get a great-looking crop without micromanaging your trees.
The month of May also signals strawberries in North Carolina. We’ve mentioned how much we enjoy playing around with interplanting other food crops on the hay mulch beneath our apple trees. Strawberries have become a perennial favorite — they make a fantastic low-growth ground cover that smothers would-be weeds. As always in farming, an “off” year for one crop goes hand in hand with an “on” year for another crop. We are currently enjoying a tremendous bumper crop of strawberries from our orchard strawberry patch. It’s canning season and our Etsy store needs serious restocking — stay tuned for something new and delicious.
In other news: the dynamic mother and daughter duo of Kordick Family Farm are the featured guests on the latest episode of the Cider Chat podcast!
Every week or so, the Cider Chat emcee, Ria Windcaller, rolls out a compilation of news and happenings in the hard cider community, and invites listeners to enjoy a glass as you tune in. Her scope is international, with guests and listeners from all over the world, and her topics are eclectic and always interesting: everything from cidery and orchard profiles to cider history and cidermaking techniques. If you are into hard cider, it is a great way to be a part of “Ciderville,” the cider community at large, but those of you who prefer to eat apples, rather than drink them will also find plenty of fascinating chat to listen to — 8 seasons worth of episodes, in fact!
For example, in the Cider Chat episode before ours, #368 Who Named this Apple Northern Spy?, Ria interviews an amateur apple historian who is hot on the trail of the story behind the naming of the ‘Northern Spy’ apple! You can listen to our recent interview via the Cider Chat website here, or find it on all podcast app directories, including Apple Podcast, Spotify and Google Podcast, as well as the Cider Chat YouTube channel. Cheers!
When planting a hard cider orchard, many are tempted to look to France, Great Britain and Spain for exceptional and exotic apple varieties to start with. We are not immune, but we can testify to the sometime difficulties in transplanting an expatriate apple to a very different part of the globe. A variety that thrives in the terroir of the cool, temperate English climate may not be thrilled to be plopped down in the red clay soil of hot, humid North Carolina.
And of course, if you’re into wine or alcohol production, one can’t say enough about the effects of terroir (the comprehensive natural environment of a region, including climate, soil, topography, etc.) on the fruit that goes into your libations. It may be that that English apple you fancy does thrive when transplanted to North Carolina . . . but the fruit you glean from the trees may also taste remarkably different or exhibit divergent properties from that grown in its home territory.
The fact is, America has plenty of its own phenomenal cider apples to boast about, as well, something that more and more cideries are taking advantage of as they struggle with reliable production of finicky foreign classics, such as ‘Dabinett’ or ‘Kingston Black’ apples. Towering at or near the top of any great American cider apple list you are likely to find American Golden Russet, a variety that apple authority John Bunker appropriately crowns “the Champagne of cider apples.”
The versatility of American Golden Russet is legendary, yet not limited to alcohol production. High in acidity, very high in sugar content, but low in tannins, the fruit does work well as a reliably balanced single varietal or in a hard cider blend. But notably, the apples produce exceptional sweet cider, as well as hard. And to round out the hat trick, if you feel like taking a bite out of an American Golden Russet, you will be rewarded with the sweet, rich crunch of a truly delicious dessert apple. I like author Rowan Jacobsen’s summation of its uses: “This apple does everything better than most apples do anything.”
In previous centuries, people prized russet-skinned apples like American Golden Russet. Not only do they tend to be easy keepers, thanks to their impervious, thick-ish, pear-like skin that discourages pest and disease damage, russets also tend to be remarkably tasty apples that store and dry well, to boot, facts that too many folks forgot with the advent of soul-less beauties like ‘Red Delicious.’ It is simply astonishing to us when we hear someone refer to an apple like American Golden Russet as a homely apple. We find it quite attractive, particularly when it picks up its characteristic rose blush in sunnier parts of a tree. American Golden Russet arose in Burlington County, New Jersey in the late 1700s and became quite popular, particularly in the Great Lakes region, during the ensuing centuries, before becoming sidelined, like so many heirlooms, during the twentieth century red shipping apple fad.
While its given name certainly checks the obvious box, it is unfortunate that such an exceptional apple didn’t rate higher in the naming department. Over the centuries, this has led to beaucoup confusion over the origins of the American Golden Russet versus the English Golden Russet, not to be mistaken for the various American state-named Golden Russets, claimed by New York, Western New York, and Massachusetts, to name a few. When we describe a russetted apple to someone, we speak of pears, or sandpaper, or sharkskin . . . there can be no excuse for the pluralism of boring Golden Russet monikers out there except lack of vision. In Old Southern Apples, Lee Calhoun lists some of the more interesting regional synonyms for American Golden Russet, and I personally would vote for ‘Bullock Pippin,’ ‘Sheepnose,’ ‘Long Tom,’ or ‘Crouch Apple’ over the official designation any day.
At KFF, we don’t have nearly enough American Golden Russets producing in our orchard yet. We have exactly one large, mature tree that produces wonderfully reliable crops annually, but we have had to gradually build our American Golden Russet block since much of the space allotted for this variety has been been taken up by nursery rows of mixed varietal graftlings. As we relocate nursery trees, we’ve been adding in American Golden Russets wherever we can and have a few more growing strong. Take it from us — however many you plant won’t be enough!
We’ve been wanting to whip up some of these lovely pastries for ages, and finally got around to perfecting our recipe recently for a well-timed Mother’s Day treat.
Juice from one lemon
2-3 medium red-skinned apples
1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
KFF apple blossom jelly, about 1/3 cup, warmed to melt
Cinnamon sugar, optional
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
Lightly grease and flour 6 custard cups (8-10 oz size) or a 6-hole muffin tin and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In stainless steel frying pan place a few cups of water and juice from one lemon. Heat to boiling then reduce setting to low to keep water hot.
Keeping peel on, cut apples in half from top to bottom, straight through the blossom to the stem. Carefully cut out blossom, core, and stem without removing too much apple. Place apple halves cut-side down and slice thinly (about 1/16-1/8 inch).
Place slices in pan of hot lemon water and gently stir to separate slices. Remove from heat. Soften apple slices in hot water for a couple of minutes (length of time will depend on the apple variety). They should be just pliable, but not falling apart. When ready, remove slices to a colander to drain. If necessary, blot with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Set aside.
Roll pastry to about 1/8” thick and approximately 12-14” long. Cut strips of pastry about 2½-3” wide by 12-14” long. Lightly brush top half (long edge) of pastry strip with apple blossom jelly. Place closely overlapping apple slices on top of jelly, allowing approximately ¼-1/3” of red-skinned edge to extend over top edge of pastry (these will be the rose petals). Lightly brush apple slices with more jelly and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar, if desired.
Fold bottom edge of pastry up over the apples to the top edge of pastry. Starting at a short end, roll pastry and apples into a pinwheel and place apple side up in prepared custard cups or muffin tin.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until pastry is browned. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes, then remove pastries from cups or tin to cooling rack. Lightly brush tops with apple blossom jelly and let cool completely.
Immediately before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
Apple cider syrup is the perfect base for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. This full-flavored recipe packs just a hint of heat and makes 2 cups of sauce.
1 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 Tablespoons grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons prepared (not dry) mustard
salt to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Then you know what to do: baste all over your favorite protein and grill, bake, or broil it up.
(adapted from an Our State Magazine recipe and shared by our friend, Randy)
4 Tablespoons (or to taste) Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 large, decent apple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
(the original recipe calls for Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples)
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large mixing bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing once during cooking time.
Remove sprouts from oven, then toss them in the cider syrup and add apples. Spread the sprouts and apples back on baking sheet and return to oven for 10 minutes or until tender. Check seasoning; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Reminiscent of lemon meringue pie!
1 cup Baba Yaga’s Cider Syrup
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1 standard pie crust
Mix all ingredients together with handbeater or blender until smooth. Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes, until set and slightly browned on top.
Makes about 75 pieces of decadent apple candy!
2 cups cream (heavy, whipping, or even coconut)
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Baba Yaga’s Cider Syrup
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
spices (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg)
Lightly grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine cream, corn syrup, sugar, cider syrup, and butter. On high heat, bring to a boil, stirring only until sugar dissolves.
Reduce to medium-high heat and cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in salt and spices.
Pour into the lined pan and let sit at room temperature for about 18 hours without disturbing.
Remove from pan and cut into desired bite-sizes (about 3/4 inch square). Cut 6 inch squares of parchment paper and wrap each caramel, twisting the ends of the paper to close.
4 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium apples
4 Tbsp. butter or non-dairy substitute
1/3 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
Place sheet of aluminum foil on bottom oven rack. Position second oven rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash sweet potatoes and make a small slit on one side of each potato. Place potatoes directly on middle oven rack, slit side up. Bake 45-60 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
While potatoes are baking, core, peel and slice apples 1/4 inch thick. Saute apple slices in 2 Tbsp. butter or substitute until tender. Set aside.
Peel cooked sweet potatoes and place in bowl. Mash together with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter or substitute, apple cider syrup, and salt. Stir in cooked apples.
Place sweet potato-apple mixture in ovenproof baking dish and cover with lid or foil. Bake 25-30 minutes.
8 cups of plain popped corn, unsalted
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. salt
Prepare a large, rimmed baking sheet by lightly oiling or lining with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place popped corn in large glass or ceramic bowl (not plastic). Bowl should be large enough so popcorn can be stirred easily without spilling over. Set aside.
Combine sugar, cider syrup, oil, and salt in small saucepan. Mix well.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until a candy thermometer registers 290 degrees F, about 6-8 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour over the popcorn. Quickly stir popcorn with spatula to coat evenly.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread coated popcorn to cool.
When cold, break into small pieces and store in airtight container.
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. minced shallot
1/4 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
2 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled apple
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve over salad greens with sliced red onion and thin wedges of apples, or your favorite salad.
Forget about molasses — apple cider syrup adds outstanding flavor to our favorite picnic food. This recipe will make about 6-8 servings as a side dish.
1 lb. dried beans (California pea, Navy, Great Northern)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Baba Yaga’s Apple Cider Syrup
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, cut in half from top to bottom
1 large, firm apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches. The next day, drain them and place in a pot with the baking soda plus enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, skimming any foam off as needed. Remove 1 cup of cooking water and set aside. Drain and rinse the beans, then place in a bean pot or slow cooker with onion halves.
Combine the syrup, sugar, mustard, ginger, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in the reserved cooking water. Pour over the beans and onions. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees in the bean pot, for 6-7 hours, or until done, stirring occasionally. A slow cooker will take about 6 hours, still covered and stirring occasionally. Add the diced apple during the last hour of cooking. If saucier beans are desired, add small amounts of water as needed.
Our orchard is located at 1259 Joyce Acres Road in Westfield, NC 27053.
Directions from Pilot Mountain:
Traveling on US-52 North, take the exit 134 for Pilot Mountain, NC-268. Enter roundabout and exit to the first right onto S. Key St./NC-268. Take a left at the CVS stoplight to continue on NC-268. Turn right on Old Westfield Road. After about 6.5 miles Old Westfield Road dead-ends into NC-89. Take a right onto NC-89 at the stoplight. Go 3 miles, then take a left onto Frans Road. After a mile, take a left at the stop sign to continue on Frans Road. Take the first right onto Christian Road. Take the first right onto Joyce Acres Road and travel 1 mile to reach 1259.
Directions from Francisco:
Traveling west on NC-89, take a right onto Asbury Road. At the stop sign, take a left to continue on Asbury Road. After about a half a mile, take a left onto Joyce Acres Road, and travel about a half a mile to reach 1259.