Just as the weather changes with the seasons, so do our palates. And with the arrival of fall, it’s time to take advantage of the Merrimack Valley’s bountiful harvest. Here, local farmers and community gardeners share favorite recipes that are sure to tempt your autumn appetite.
from Mann Orchards
5 medium-size apples, peeled, cored and sliced into half-inch thick slices (Mann’s recommends using 3 Cortland and 2 Honeycrisp apples)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package Mann Orchards apple crisp mix
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Place the apples into an 8×8 casserole dish.
3. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the apples and set aside.
4. Empty the contents of the apple crisp mix package into a medium bowl.
5. With your hands, add the butter in marble-size pieces and mix until it is the size of peas.
6. Spread the prepared crisp topping over the peeled-and-sliced apples evenly. (Do not compact the topping, leave it light and fluffy.)
7. Place in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven. The crisp is done once the apples become fork tender.
8. Serve the fresh apple crisp with locally made vanilla ice cream for a true New England dessert.
When asked if he would ever give out his grandmother’s recipe for apple pie, Matt Fitzgerald, a fifth-generation farmer, asks bluntly, “Why would I do that?” Ruth Fitzgerald began baking her now-famous pies so she and her husband, Donald, could earn enough money to buy Matt’s father, Bill, a bed when he was a boy. Last Thanksgiving season, Mann Orchards sold 26,374 of those scrumptious apple pies. The recipe hasn’t changed in nearly 60 years. “We let the apples do the talking,” says Fitzgerald, revealing only a bit of the secret to Mann Orchards’ store-made pies. They use whatever apples are available and ripe at the time, which means their pies will taste differently in September than they will in November or February. Mann Orchards currently grows 20 varieties of apples — plus an assortment of other fruits and veggies — on its 29-acre farm in Methuen, where you also can purchase the mix needed to make Mann Orchards’ famous apple crisp. The crisp has been made on-site for more than 50 years, according to Fitzgerald, who works the farm with his parents and two siblings.