Ten minutes into our drive, the leaves began to change color – the buildings, the noise, the people faded away. The stress of a particularly dreadful date the night before felt less intense, the nerves about an upcoming project less important.
When you’re inside the bubble of New York City, it’s easy to forget there’s a world outside. One that moves remarkably slower, one that is less intense, less stressed, less cramped.
As I stretched my legs out in the back row of the sedan my friend, Adam, had rented, I felt like a little kid again, bustling with excitement about the day’s plan. Barton Orchards in Poughquag, New York was the destination; a 122-acre family farm open to the public on the weekends for a small fee.
We parked our car, making our way through an open barn that doubled as a ticket booth and toward the bustling center. Past the petting zoo, underneath the goat bridge, the smell of apple cider donuts and French fries filled the air with a duo on guitar providing the soundtrack to the afternoon.
We found refuge from the cold inside a bar on the property, where spiked hot apple cider flowed like water. We sipped our warm beverages, dollops of whipped cream giving us mustaches and giggles.
Once warmed up – and slightly giddy from the whisky and anticipation – we piled onto a hayride to venture toward the orchard to reap what would be the fruits of our labor.
We purchased our ‘bushels’ or ‘pecks’ and wandered through the perfectly aligned rows of Golden Delicious and Fuji apples; Crispens and Greenings, snacking along the way and filling our bags with a variety of red and green. The bags overflowed with bounty; causing friends to tuck the overflow into purses and pockets.
Bags and bellies full of apples, we returned to the main area hoping to scour the store for jams and jellies; sauces and sweets; even pickled eggs. I went straight for the apple cider donuts, feeling no trip is complete without one, or two, or let’s be honest, a dozen of these fall favorites.
And the day ended in reverse, saying goodbye to the colors, hello to buildings and bustle. But once on the subway with my peck full of apples, I felt like I still remained upstate somewhere; reminded that it’s easy to get away, easy to escape the stress and the intensity of the city, if even for a few hours.
Barton Orchards • 63 Apple Tree Ln, Poughquag, NY
Homemade Applesauce, Cookie & Kate
- 1 ½ pounds Gala apples (or any other variety of sweet red apple, about 4 medium)
- 1 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples (or Golden Delicious, about 4 medium)
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, more to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Peel, core and chop the apples into 2″ chunks. In a medium Dutch oven or large stainless steel saucepan, combine the apple chunks, water, maple syrup and cinnamon. Cover and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and falling apart, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. For chunky applesauce, use a potato masher or the back of a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to break it up to your desired consistency. For smooth applesauce, blend it in your food processor.
- Stir in the vinegar. Adjust to taste as necessary—for sweeter applesauce, stir in more maple syrup (I usually add 2 tablespoons); for more spice, add more cinnamon; for more complexity, add another teaspoon of vinegar.
- Serve warm or chilled; let it cool to room temperature before covering leftover applesauce and storing it in the fridge. Leftover applesauce will keep well in the refrigerator for about 1 week, or for months in the freezer.