Sunday, October 10, 2010


Shirley, a third generation apple grower.

This was not a good year for apple growers as it was hot in March which started the apples growning much too soon.  That is Izzy enjoying the orchard in the lower right hand corner.

Last week we went to Hart, MI to visit one of our favorite growers from the Muskegon Farmer’s Market. We met Shirley at THAT PLACE, a 50’s/60’s theme diner. I felt right at home in the diner as it had Formica tables and the vinyl covered chairs that went with the tables.  When I was young, I can remember how excited the family was when they purchased a big, gray, Formica table with chrome legs. There were three yellow chairs and three gray ones to match the table.

Ida Red Apples waiting to be picked.

First question I asked Shirley was which apple is best for Apple Dumplings. Our, Grand Rapids area, Grand-daughter makes an impressive dumpling. Without hesitation, Shirley answered, “Ida Reds.” Ida Red is a cross between a Spy Apple and a Jonathan Apple. There is an old saying, “No pie without a Spy.” Spy Apples are an old apple and are a wonderful baking apple. My Grandma always used Northern Spy apples for baking. Northern Spy apples bruise easily, said Shirley and she does not recommend the newer Red Spy Apple. The Jonathan is a sweet/tart apple with a spicy fragrance. It is excellent for baking or eating out of hand.

Ida Reds.

The brown spot is frost damage on an Ida Red apple.

Shirley said people frequently mix-up Paula Red and Ida Red apples. Paula Red is a late summer tart apple that makes a smooth creamy sauce. Ida Red’s are just being picked. They store well and are a good firm baking apple.

For a Quick and Easy Homemade Applesauce try my Grandma's Method at:


This applesauce was made with the first apples of summer which are Transparent or the newer variety, Lodi.  They are a green apple and make a green sauce.  If you make this sauce using Grandma's method leaving the skins on the apples when you cook the sauce and McIntosh apples, you will have a lovely pink-colored sauce.

Golden Delicious on the trees.

For diabetics, Shirley recommends either a Gala Apple or a riper Golden Delicious Apple for baking as they are sweet and require no added sugar. Just add the spices in a recipe and the Gala or Golden Delicious apples are ready to go.

A row of Golden Delicious Apples.

I have a new respect for the Golden Delicious since talking with Shirley. Shirley likes them for baking or eating out of hand. It is a honey sweet, crisp apple only related to the Red Delicious by its name; it is not the Red Delicious yellow cousin. It is resistant to browning when cut so is excellent for salads. Shirley likes the Golden Delicious because it ages like we do. As it ages it get wrinkly, but the inside is just as good as a fresh apple.

Shirley's Grandfather started the farm.  He would tell his wife that the barns came before the house.  His saying was, "A barn will build a house.  A house won't build a barn."

I am, personally, not fond of Granny Smith Apples. A good substitute green apple is Mutsu, sometimes called Crispin. It is a bigger apple than Golden Delicious. It is a cross between Golden Delicious and a Japanese apple. It is truly an all-purpose apple. It is honey sweet yet tangy, crisp and a very good baking apple. Shirley has had some Mutsu apples that weight a pound a piece.

Shirley's 90 year old Father doesn't let a broken wrist slow him down.  He is sorting apples by size to take to market.

When we were at the farm, Shirley’s Dad, was sorting Empire apples to take to the Farmer’s Market the next day. Empires are a cross between a McIntosh apple and a Red Delicious. It has a very good flavor and was very crisp.

Hart, MI and the farm are located in a beautiful area of Michigan.

Apple farming takes a great deal of equipment,

and lots of storage buildings.

Apples are put into wooden boxes that allow them to "breathe".  There are 18 bushels of apples in each box.  The boxes are stacked into a cold storage area.

Shirley's husband, Bob, hard at work.

Beautiful tree, beautiful apples.


  1. Love your blog! I found it while searching for Dutch desserts. Just made one of your recipes and featured your blog on mine! Check it out:


    Thanks again!

  2. Siri, thank you for the lovely comment. I will be featuring many more Dutch recipes as the holiday season draws near; coming soon a Leek Gouda soup. eet smakelijk :)