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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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When Are The Apples Ready?

Uploaded: Aug 14, 2016

The most important part of the pie is love and the homegrown apples.

I found myself thinking about that rolling lots of pie dough at Jeem’s a couple weeks ago. I got the call.

The apples are ready.

Jeem has a big ol’ Granny Smith tree in his Redwood City backyard. J&D, his neighbors, grow Gala.

The forces gathered on August 6th for Pie Fest. It was our second pie-crazed Food Party! We made four pies this year, and to assist the effort, spiralized the apples. Not sure about that uniform cut, but prep was really fast.

We mostly used J&D’s Galas, but needed a few more to fill in, so added some Granny Smith too. The Galas seemed sweet, but the Granny’s a bit grainy, like the starch hadn’t turned to sugar yet. But I’m no apple farmer, so who knows? I got the call. It was time to make pies.

And they came out good, but I bet a little more juice would have helped. Which got me wondering… when did we make them last year? Maybe the apples weren’t ready yet? Sure enough, I looked up the pictures and found out the date was September 30th, seven weeks later than this year’s fest.

So readers, anyone know apples out there? I say we picked too soon and if we would have waited, the apples would have been juicier. Jeem doesn’t agree.

How can you tell when the apples are ready?

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Aug 14, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I'm in Palo Alto and I have a very productive tree in my yard. It's been interesting with the drought, I got a huge crop this year even though I didn't water. BUT, my neighbor watered their back yard well and I think my tree stole their water, they can develop very long roots. My tree is close to being ripe, but not quite, some apples aren't even full size yet. Can you please tell me where to get that apple peeler? I am going to need it soon! Recipes also appreciated.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 15, 2016 at 5:32 am

Apples are really a fall crop around NorCal with a few exceptions, the big one being Gravensteins which are really the sole major cultivar that is truly ripe in the summer. There's another rather obscure cultivar with pink flesh that is good right now.

For other typical cultivars, I'd hold off until October/November.

Typically I won't buy local apples until the local pears are done. But that's just me...

Posted by Jay Ess, a resident of another community,
on Aug 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

My Gravensteins are ripe now, my Golden Deliscious will ripen in September and the Granny Smiths in November and will last until new years day.

Posted by Brit, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Aug 15, 2016 at 10:14 pm

My favourites are meat pies. Steak & Kidney, Beef & Guinness, Chicken & Mushroom, Turkey & Ham, Lamb & Mint.

Fruit pies are OK, but you can't beat a good meat pie. Please don't put any sugar or corn syrup in the crust though!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 16, 2016 at 3:52 am


Laura's a vegetarian. She's not going to extoll the virtues of meat pies. Try a different blog if you want to see more attention on meat pies.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Aug 16, 2016 at 7:53 am

Thanks everyone!
Neighbor - the apple peeler was Jeem's but I bet Amazon is a good place to look. I've use Martha Stewart's pie crust for years and Joy of Cooking's apple pie filling recipe.

Resident - I am not actually a vegetarian. I was for 17 years, then went to Singapore, couldn't memorize all the words for "meat, fish, pork, chicken, beef, etc" inevitably got meat and decided it tasted good! So I do eat a little, but really not much. For most purposes besides professionally, I am a veg head.

Jay Ess - you 'da Man or Woman! Thanks. I Knew it Jeem! So besides sweetness, how do you know they are ready then? Just because you've been growing for years? Jeem's Granny's were sweet, but seemed undeveloped. Please share more about knowing when the best time is. Is texture part of the equation? Where are you based by the way? Hmmmm, Jay Ess, like JS? That reminds me of a funny airplane-standby story when I was paged as Passenger St. Ec.

Posted by Brit, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Aug 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Sorry about the meat pies then. I have had some good veggie pies too. A good ratatouille goes well in a pie as well as mushroom and root vegetable mixes.

I just don't see why all pies should be sweet.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Meat pies seem to show up often in British cookbooks and writing (especially from past centuries). I experienced some of them when visiting there as a teenager (they're a high craft), and enjoy reading the appetizing recipes (and just occasionally, making one). But I don't think they ever caught on nearly as much in the US.

Apple pie, on the other hand, is iconic here.

Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 17, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Try Newtown Pippins - the best apple ever for pies. They used to be grown extensively in Watsonville but have been eclipsed by Granny Smiths - a slightly sweeter apple. I personally think Pippins hold their shape better in pies and also last longer in storage. I have seen them occasionally at Farmer's Markets.

Posted by Lauralies, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:30 pm

OK - we were both right. The Galas were ready-ish. The Granny Smiths need more time

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