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Get the most out of harvest season

Get the most out of harvest season

October 18, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

This year's apple season is reaching its peak, so why not take advantage?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland farmers produced 23 million pounds of apples last year - that's about 4 pounds of apples for each person in the state.

There are dozens of apple varieties available in Washington County, including some that are indigenous to Maryland, says Henry Allenberg, owner of Allenberg Orchards, just outside of Smithsburg.

York and Stayman apples are two locally grown apples that are excellent for pies, Allenberg says. Staymans are a bit tart. "It's kind of like if you like sweet wine or if you like dry wine," Allenberg says. "If you like dry wine, you'd like Staymans."

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Yorks fall on the sweeter end, but they're firm to the bite. They retain the firmness when cooked, Allenberg says. "They're not at all soft, but they're ideal as a cooking apple."

The Maryland Apple Promotion Board, www.marylandapples.org, a Hagerstown-based collective of apple growers throughout the state, has a handy guide for locally grown apples. Here are a few varieties you can look forward to this apple season:

Empire - A McIntosh-Red Delicious combo with a reddish color and crisp taste.

Fuji - A firm, very sweet apple that was first discovered in Japan. It's red with green streaks.

Gala - Sweet and flavorful with reddish-orange skin and yellow flesh.

Ginger Gold - Its name conveys its color. It's sweet, juicy and firm, and best in the early apple season. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

Golden Delicious - Both sweet and mellow. Good for all cooking purposes.

Jonagold - A blend of tart Jonathan and sweet Golden Delicious. It has red and green tones. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

Jonathan - Moderately tart. Good for cooking, making salads and snacking. Its color is red.

McIntosh - Juicy and tart. Great for baking. It also has red and green tones.

Mutsu (or Crispin) - Sweet and juicy with a firm texture and crisp white flesh. It's good for snacking and cooking. Its color is green. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

Red Delicious - Sweet and juicy apple best for eating fresh out of hand. Deep red color.

Rome - Firm and slightly tart. Good for baking and cooking. Red color. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

Stayman - Firm with a rich and mildly tart flavor. Good all-purpose apple. Reddish color. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

York - Crisp, firm and tart. Recommended for all cooking purposes. These can be found at orchards and farm stands.

Apple-Cream Cheese Pie



Crust

1 refrigerated pie crust (15-ounce box), softened as directed on box

Streusel

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice

1/3 cup butter or margarine

Apple layer

3 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (3 medium apples)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon apple pie spice

Cream cheese layer

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Make pie crust as directed on the box, using a 9-inch glass pie pan and taking care not to prick the crust. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. If crust puffs in the center, flatten gently with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove pie crust from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

While the crust bakes, stir together in a small bowl all of the streusel ingredients except for butter. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently mix apple layer ingredients and set aside. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until well blended. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Spread mixture in crust-lined pan. Spoon apple mixture evenly over the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until apples are tender and streusel is golden brown. If necessary, cover pie loosely with foil during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Cool at least 1 hour before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Serves 8.

- Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury

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