Apple Variety or New England Town? A Game That’s Harder Than You’d Think

Where food comes from.
March 25 2013 2:04 PM

Table to Farm: Apple Crisp Edition

Slate's show about apple genetics, apple economics, and the proper ratio of apple crisp to ice cream.

Listen to Table to Farm No. 4 with L.V. Anderson and Dan Pashman by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

Slate’s coverage of food systems is made possible in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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Laura and Dan talk to self-proclaimed “apple nerd” Amy Traverso about the history of apples and how new varieties are created. Then your hosts explore ways to get local apples and other local produce when they talk to farmer Michael Kokas and Benzi Ronen, the founder of Farmigo. Finally, they play a game called “Apple Variety or New England Town?” and cook and eat an apple crisp.

Here are Amy Traverso’s two apple crisp recipes, adapted from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook; her apple variety cheat sheet is below:

Grandma’s Apple Crisp
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 1¼ hours, largely unattended

5 large tender-tart apples (such as McIntosh or Jonathan; about 2½ pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick rings or slices
5 large firm-sweet apples (such as Jazz or Ginger Gold; about 2½ pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick rings or slices
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and set a rack to the middle position. Arrange the sliced apples in an even layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (no need to grease it); set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the eggs and, using a fork or a pastry cutter, work in until crumbly. The mixture will look like streusel, with a mix of wet and dry bits. (Have no fear; the eggs provide enough liquid.)

3. Spread the topping evenly over the apples, then drizzle all over with the melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake until the topping is golden brown and apple juices are bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then serve warm from the pan.

Oatmeal-Topped Apple Crisp
Yield: 8 servings

Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes, largely unattended

5 large tender-tart apples (such as McIntosh or Jonathan; about 2½ pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks
5 large firm-sweet apples (such as Jazz or Ginger Gold; about 2½ pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scant ½ teaspoon freshly grated ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup pecan halves

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF, and set a rack to the middle position. Arrange the apples in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (no need to grease it).

2. In a food processor, pulse the flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to blend. Sprinkle the butter on top and pulse four times (1 second each)—the mixture will look like rough sand. Add the pecans and pulse until they are the size of peas—about three pulses.

3. Spread the mixture over the apples and bake until the topping is golden brown and apple juices are bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then serve warm from the pan.

Adapted from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso. Copyright © 2011 by Amy Traverso. Photographs © 2011 by Squire Fox. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Here are links to some of the things we discussed this week:

This podcast was produced by Dan Pashman.

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L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. Follow her on Twitter.

Dan Pashman is the creator and host of The Sporkful food podcast and blog, a regular contributor to NPR and Slate, and the host of Cooking Channel's Good to Know.