Eat This!

When the leaves begin to change color, apples start to ripen, and the air becomes a little crisper, Fall has arrived for me.
It’s a wonderful time of year, full of scents like burning wood from fireplaces and sweet apple pie straight out of the oven.
This past weekend, I set out for my yearly apple picking adventure to make some pie of my own. I live in the small town of Chester, New Jersey. We have several apple orchards.
My favorite is Riamede Farm. Riamede is on 68 acres and has offered pick-your-own apples since 1974.
They have every apple you could imagine – Golden Delicious, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and Pink Lady. The list goes on.
What attract me most to this farm are the 19th-century trees that are still producing apples. Plus, its buildings and barns haven’t changed since I was a child. It’s got that old-time feel.
When I pull up to the packed parking lot, I see many out-of-state license plates, especially from New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It’s not unusual.
Riamede Farm has always attracted out-of-towners and for a good part of the month of October, they triple our population.
The apple picking process here can take some time if you are not familiar with it.
They give you a map but it can still be confusing, especially when the farm is crowded. You are also allowed to take long apple-picking devices that help you reach those high branches.
These are a must for me. Some of the best-looking apples are up at the top of the tree.
After two hours of roaming rows and rows of apple trees, I have collected about 30 apples, even though I need only about eight for the pie. I have a good variety and they vary in size, color, and taste.
I always want to get a good mix of sweet and tart apples for the pie. It helps every apple slice be unique and well balanced.
I work my way back to the checkout area that also houses an amazing shop that offers other products like candy apples, apple cider donuts and many other apple-related delectables.
I decide to pass on them because the line is long and my bag is heavy. It’s time to go home and start the process.
I dig into my bag of apples and grab the first eight that look completely different. I have apple peelers and corers, but I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. I take a very sharp paring knife, small and only about four inches long. I peel each apple and then slice them into one-eighth inch pieces. I then cut up the apple slices into smaller pieces because they bring out a more flavorful and interesting tasting experience.
Each apple is different, and I want that taste in my pie.
Next, I throw the apple pieces into a mixing bowl. I measure three tablespoons of all-purpose flour, half a cup of sugar and half a cup of brown sugar and add them to the bowl along with the melted butter, and begin mixing. Lastly, I squeeze a half fresh lemon and a quarter cup of cinnamon into the bowl and stir it all up for the last time.
I let my ingredients sit while I take a 9-inch, pre-made pie crust (I like Pillsbury) and unroll it into a pie dish.
Once the pie crust is spread out, I cut along the outer edges so no dough is hanging off the sides. (Save the dough!) I use a knife and go around lightly. Then I put the apple filling in the pie dish and spread evenly.
I design my top crust by rolling it out and cutting a few longer strips and overlap them across the top of the pie almost like a tic-tac-toe board.
I place the pie in the oven, which has been preheated to 425 degrees, and let it bake for approximately 15 minutes.
Then I lower the heat to 350 degrees and let it bake for about 40 minutes more, at which point the pie has begun to bubble and the crust has turned brown and crispy on top.
I remove the pie from the oven and let it sit for another 30 minutes until cooled.
I recommend serving apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top, but many people prefer a slice of very sharp cheddar. Either way, it’s a treat.
What I find special about this particular recipe is the pie always tastes so fresh. Sometimes I find pies can be too gooey and sweet, lacking a balance between sweetness, tartness, and texture. It’s all about the fresh variety of apples and keeping with the simplest of ingredients.