Spark an Interest in Apples with These Fun Books, Recipes
Read about, pick and bake with apples!
The local apple harvest heralds the coming of fall, and many orchards allow you to experience the harvest firsthand by picking your own. You'll also find local farmers markets are overflowing this time of year. But before heading to the orchard, get the kids ready for apple fun with these great books. They'll also love helping make these delicious apple treats after the harvest.
"Apples" (By Gail Gibbons, Ages 5+)
Gibbons' straightforward descriptions introduce young children to the history, cultivation, harvest and uses of apples. Her simple and colorful drawings skillfully illustrate the text without overwhelming young children with too much detail.
"Apples" (By Jacqueline Famer; illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, Ages 6+)
Farmer goes into more detail about the cultivation, uses and cultural significance of apples. Tildes' drawings are realistic and support the text well. The process of apple tree grafting, which is necessary to control the type of apple produced by a tree, and the biology of the apple tree are described and illustrated in a particularly accessible way. A two-page spread on common varieties of apples and their uses guides the selection of apples at the market or orchard.
"An Apple Pie for Dinner" (By Susan Vanhecke; illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee, Ages 6+)
This book retells an English story of a woman (Granny Smith in this version) who wants to make an apple pie for dinner. She has no apples, but plenty of plums. "But you can't make an apple pie with plums," she says, and sets out with a basketful she hopes to trade for apples. She first meets a young woman whose family loves plum jam but who has only feathers to give Granny in return. Granny meets person after person who needs the contents of her basket more than she. This heartwarming story of Granny's empathy and kindness demonstrates the rewards of giving to others.
"How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" (By Marjorie Priceman, Ages 5+)
Priceman's story begins with a character needing ingredients for an apple pie. The young protagonist devises a trip around the world to gather items on her shopping list after finding the market closed. She travels from the United States to Europe for wheat, eggs and butter; to Asia for cinnamon; to the Caribbean for sugar cane and salt; and back to the United States for apples. Although a map of the world is included, the book does not serve as a geography lesson as much as celebration of the power of imagination to transport us to far off places. Priceman's clever illustrations are graphically striking and funnier than the story itself.
Each of the books mentioned above includes a recipe for apple pie. Priceman's recipe in "How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World" is nearly identical to the recipe my husband's grandmother, Mary Parker, uses.
Mary Parker's Apple Pie
The simple ingredients of this recipe let the taste of fresh fall apples shine through. Grandma Parker uses Jonathan apples, but Winesaps, Rome Beauty and Granny Smiths work too.
Crust for a double crust pie
3 pounds Jonathan apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of butter
Sugar to sprinkle over crust
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Add spices, sugar and flour, and mix well. Line pie pan with half of the dough and add apples. Dot with butter. Cover with the other half of the dough and sprinkle the crust with sugar. Cut vents in the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and bake 45 minutes more.
"Up, Up, Up! It's Apple-picking Time" (By Jody Fickes Shapiro; illustrated by Kitty Harvill, Ages 4+)
The book tells the story of a young boy (Myles) whose family travels to his grandparents' apple orchard to help with the apple harvest. Shapiro's poetic language evokes all of the senses as Myles and his family pick apples and sell them to neighbors and friends at a roadside stand. You can almost taste the applesauce and dumplings served during their stay, hear Mama's laugh as she disappears up a ladder into the tree, and smell the "apple perfume" of the orchard. Harvill's colorful paper-collage illustrations capture the story and the essence of fall.
Slow Cooker Applesauce
Great mixed into oatmeal as in Shapiro's story or served with pork chops (leave out cinnamon). Many apples work well for applesauce, but Ginger Gold, Macintosh and Galas are favorites. Reduce sugar if using sweeter apples such as Galas.
4 pounds (about 8 medium) apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup water
Mix apples (about 12 cups) with sugar and cinnamon (if using) and put into CrockPot. Pour water over apples. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.
Puffed Apple Pancake
Here's one last recipe that is sure to be a hit with children. Let them watch through the oven window while the pancake puffs as it cooks.
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 apple, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Maple syrup for serving
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 12-inch cast-iron skillet or other oven-safe skillet in oven to warm. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, vanilla and salt until smooth. In separate bowl, toss apple with sugar and cinnamon. Remove preheated skillet from oven and add butter, swirling until melted. Arrange apples in a single layer in skillet and pour in batter. Bake 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with maple syrup.
The following orchards are just a short drive from the Triad. Call ahead and availability, prices and hours.
72 McAyers Road
Cana, VA 24317
2229 Pannel Road
Reidsville, NC 27320
Hill's Orchard & Vineyard
3452 Marvin Hill Place
Trinity, NC 27370
J & A Orchard
(closed for 2016 season)
25 Reidland Road
Taylorsville, NC 28681
163 Levering Lane
Ararat, VA 24053
Daily Update Line: 276-755-3593
Millstone Creek Orchards
506 Parks Crossroad Church Road
Ramseur, NC 27316
Jan Wharton is a Winston-Salem-based freelance writer and mother of three.