Crow Mountain Orchard is closed for the season

Bob Deutscher, owner

Bob Deutscher, owner

We wish you all a Happy New Year and will see you in June 2016.

The orchard salesroom and all our farmers market booths are closed for the season. We thank all of our customers, employees, and family for a great year.

Large Group Orchard Visits

If you have a large group such as a church group, senior center, service club, etc. who would like to schedule a trip to Crow Mountain Orchard, call the salesroom, 256-437-9254, and schedule a date and time with Michelle or Barb. They schedule groups for Monday through Thursday. Scheduled groups will be provided with numbered tickets for door prize drawings. We encourage groups to reserve a spot on the calendar to avoid having two or more large groups showing up at the same time.

Ripening and Storing Peaches

 

When I have worked in the salesroom, a common question from customers was how to keep their peaches. Recently my husband and I bought a half bushel of peaches (here in North Carolina) and are now at the end of them. I didn’t lose any. Here is how to keep them as long as possible.

Ripe peaches are very fragile, and it is impossible to keep from bruising them while picking, packing, and just regular handling. They also have a very short shelf life. That is why we (and most orchards) pick them while they are still firm requiring you to let them ripen for a couple of days. Our packers separate out any ripe peaches which are sold at a discount in case you need a few ripe peaches that day.

When you get your box of firm peaches home, store them in the refrigerator. Unless you bought them to can all at one time, remove a few peaches at a time from the refrigerator to ripen. Lay them in a single layer. In a day or two, they should be ready to eat. My husband and I rotated through a large box of peaches doing this. We always had the right number of ripe peaches ready when we wanted them, but had them last for much longer than if I had let the whole half bushel ripen at once.  Once they have ripened, they can be put back in the refrigerator.

Modern refrigerators remove moisture which may result in your peaches or other fruit drying out some and shriveling. One trick is to lay a damp dishcloth over them. This also works for apples.

Occasionally, a customer returns to the orchard to complain that their fruit went bad. When questioned, they admit that they had not refrigerated it, but had kept it in a garage or “cool” back bedroom. Fruit will rot fairly quickly if not kept cold, like most perishable produce. The colder the better (above freezing) and the longer your fruit will last. I have eaten ripe peaches I picked off the tree, and peaches that I stored in my refrigerator. Once ripened, they taste the same.

More important is whether the peaches are locally grown and fresh-picked, not having been shipped a thousand miles or more. When I lived in Arizona and bought peaches at the store, they more often than not rotted before they got ripe and sweet. Kind of like waiting for a store-bought tomato to taste good.

Follow us on Facebook

There is a button to “like” the Crow Mountain Orchard Facebook page on the bottom of the right column. I will post more pictures and notices as we get closer to opening in early June.

Fried Apple Pies

Today a customer requested a recipe for fried apple pies.  I love making them, but don’t really follow a recipe. I did an internet search and found a good video and recipe from the Food Network that makes an easy version.

I know a lot of you southern cooks have your favorite recipes for fried pies. Please share your recipe in the “Comments” here.

I like to use a combination of Granny Smith or Jonathan apples with Golden Delicious. Dried apples are also good for making these pies. Sometimes I make my own crust instead of using the refrigerated flaky biscuits, but the biscuit dough makes it very easy. I know a lot of our customers use the refrigerated dough.

When my daughter, Jennifer, was in college at New York University, she often had apples and other fruit from Crow Mountain Orchard delivered by one of her grandmother’s friends. She would make a skillet of fried apples then use them as filling in a flour tortilla folded in half and fried in some butter to make an easy fried pie.

Dehydrating Apples and Pears

Canned tomato sauce

Canned tomato sauce, peaches, etc.

Dehydrated Food

Dehydrated Food

 

 

 

 

 

I like to preserve fruits and vegetables while they are in season, plentiful, nutritious, and a good value.  We can, dehydrate, and freeze food from our large garden and fruit I get from Crow Mountain Orchard.

Dried Pink Lady ApplesMy favorite way to store apples and pears is to dry them in my Excalibur 9-tray dehydrator.  I also dry peaches and berries.  They taste good as a snack, are healthy, and can be used for cooking.

 

Fried Apples

Fried Apples

I use them to make a skillet of fried apples, fried pies, and pie with no problem. They taste as good as fresh. My favorite way to use dried pears is mixed in with oatmeal or cereal. It tastes great and naturally sweetens the oatmeal.

 

Pears and lemon juice

Pears and lemon juice

When I dry apples and pears, I usually peel them and slice them fairly thin.  For the apples, I use a hand-cranked peeler/slicer.  I use apples that are medium size and firm. Large apples don’t fit well in the peeler.  Very ripe or softer apples don’t slice or peel well and get kind of mushy.  Most varieties of apples dry well.

Sliced Pears on Dehydrator Tray

Sliced Pears on Dehydrator Tray

After the fruit is sliced, I spray it with lemon juice or put it in a bowl with some water and lemon juice or Fresh Fruit to keep it from turning brown in the dehydrator.  I do not add sugar or salt to fruit when I dry it.

Dry it until the fruit is crisp.  If it is not dry enough, it may mold in storage and could be dangerous to eat.  If you bend a dried slice and it breaks in half, it is dry enough.

I store my dehydrated food in canning jars with a desiccant packet, and vacuum seal the jars using a FoodSaver.  There are many ways to store the dried fruit, but make sure it is protected from moisture and insects.

 

 

Carol Deutscher Passed Away

Carol Deutscher the year they bought the land in Alabama.

Carol Deutscher the year they bought the land in Alabama.

Saturday, March 30, one of the owners of Crow Mountain Orchard, Carol Deutscher, passed away at home surrounded by her family and friends following a long illness.  We miss my mother terribly.

Many of our customers remember the many years she worked 7 days a week at the counter in the sales room.