I love this time of year. The leaves on the trees are changing colour and slowly drifting down to the ground. The air smells crisp and fresh, especially when you take the time to get outside and breathe it in for an Autumn walk. The crunch of the leaves underfoot can only be beaten by the crunch of a juicy apple, picked straight from the tree.
What’s that you say? There are no apples in Southwestern Ontario this year? Poppy cosh!! While the warm temperatures that we basked in last spring might have seemed a boon then, it was disastrous for fruit farmers who watched the subsequent frosts kill almost everything in sight. No blossoms, equalled no fruit…
Note that I said “almost” though. I feel for the farmers that were slammed with approximately 85% of the apple crops being destroyed in this area, but not all the apple trees met the same fate. While Apple Land Station can sell you a pie or let you slide down sand mountain, their apples come from Quebec this year, instead of their on-site orchard. They were completely wiped out, despite valiant efforts to protect their trees in the Spring. Birtch Farms and Estate Winery met the same fate, but continue to offer Ontario apples from orchards that fared better than theirs this year. Twin Pines Orchards, Cider House and Estate Winery isn’t far behind, with no u-pick apples available this year, but smaller quantities available for purchase within their store. Better load up on their pumpkins instead!
The folks at Great Lakes Farms were comparatively blessed this year, perhaps due to their proximity to Lake Erie. They have Galas, Jonagolds and Cortlands ready to be picked, but quantities are more limited than in previous years. It sounds like they are lucky to have anything at all, by Ontario standards! If your family enjoys apple picking as much as mine, you might want to hightail it out to Port Stanley, before they are all gone though!
If you do manage to find a fresh apple or two, plucked from the branches of Malus Domestica, why not think about something other than the humble apple pie. This panini recipe from the Ontario Apple Growers website, uses less apples, which under the circumstances, might be the best use for apples, aside from just eating them raw!
ONTARIO APPLE, AGED CHEDDAR AND SMOKED TURKEY PANINI
- 4 slices of aged cheddar cheese
- 4 slices of whole grain bread
- 1 peeled, cored and thinly sliced Ontario McIntosh apple
- 4 slices of smoked turkey breast
- 2 tsp honey mustard
- 1/2 cup baby spinach
- Heat a panini press or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
- Divide cheddar evenly between two slices of whole grain bread, followed by 2 slices of apple and 2 slices of smoked turkey. Spread remaining two slices of bread with honey mustard and place on top of the turkey (mustard side down).
- Place sandwiches in heated panini press or cast iron pan and grill for 4 to 5 minutes turning as necessary to evenly brown the bread on both sides of the sandwich. Once cheese melts and the bread is golden brown, remove sandwiches from the heat. Remove tops of sandwiches, add spinach, replace tops and serve immediately.
- Makes 2 sandwiches.