There are just a couple of weeks left to snag some of America’s oldest apple cultivars, grown right on the grounds of Old Bethpage Village Restoration and tended by the volunteers of Restoration Farm.
The Roxbury Russet may be the oldest apple cultivar in America, brought over from Europe as a seedling in the 1600s and fantastic for dessert (meaning fresh eating), pies, juice, and — what was bound to make it an instant hit with colonists — hard cider. The Newton Pippin is a native Long Islander from the mid 18th century, favored and popularized by Thomas Jefferson and also great for fresh eating, cooking, juice and the hard stuff.
“These are the late varieties, so they will be around for just another week or two,” says Glenn Aldridge. Aldridge is apple orchard volunteer-in-chief (although he is quick to say that many hands besides his are involved) at Restoration Farm and undertook to salvage the trees, planted by Nassau County in the ’90s, from their state of relative abandonment from a cider milling project that never quite got underway.
For years after the successful recovery of the orchard, Aldridge tends the 35 or so trees and sells the produce through the Restoration Farm and other farm stands. The proceeds get put right back into the orchard. Since he doesn’t have proper long-term storage, the apples will only available as long as they last or as long as they stay fresh. Buyers will be able to keep them fresh for a month in the crisper of the refrigerator, he says.
Prices are $10 for a half peck bag (about 5 pounds) of top apples (great for fresh eating) or $10 for a full peck basket of seconds (imperfect and with a shorter life span but still great for pies). To get them before they are gone head for the Restoration Farm farm stand Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. – noon. They will also be available at the Sea Cliff and Port Washington farmers markets on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – noon.
Aldridge is happy to talk about the apples (among his valuable tips are to slice these heritage apples for fresh eating; they are harder than your average supermarket varietals). If you need more information, call him at 516.816.5315.
Look for a recipe for Glenn Aldridges apple pie in our Holiday Issue.