apple season

oct 11 .jpg

I just read the last newsletter that I wrote on June 21st welcoming you to our 2017 Season and promising that a thorough newsletter would come soon.  Well what can I say four months later….  When friends introduce Doug and I to new people, they often say “They run the orchards at Montgomery Place.”  We are always quick to respond, “Actually the orchards run us”.   Boy is that true this year - Every muscle hurts, but mostly my smiling muscle because it has been a good season.  
Of course we will still complain – it IS what farmers do best, but we are in search of that ‘perfect season’.   I do wish it felt more like “apple eating weather”, but we have a big apple crop, so we will be open until Thanksgiving and then we hope to do weekends in December as well?  All depends on the weather and how many apples you can eat by then.

So let’s talk apples….

As many of you know, we grow close to 70 varieties of apples here at Montgomery Place. This is because my husband loves apples and especially loves hard cider.   About 20 years ago, Doug decided that he was going to make his own Hard Cider and so he wanted to grow his own apples to do that.
We did have a start because in 1988 we had planted 10 Gravenstein, 10 Golden Russet and 10 Newtown Pippin. 

Newtown Pippin

Newtown Pippin

We spent winter nights by the wood burning stove, heated with apple wood, drinking hard cider and started reading about older apple varieties.  Our favorite books are Beach’s  two volumes of “The Apples of New York” and anything written by L. H. Bailey.  More recently Rowan Jacobsen has a fantastic book called “Apples of Uncommon Character” that we refer to so much.  Each apple had a story and we felt like we wanted to get to know them.   Before we knew it, we had 70 varieties. 

This weekend we should have close to 25 varieties available.  We have divided our apples into three categories:

These apples are more commonly known / utilitarian Cortland  -  Empire  - Golden Delicious 
Jonagold  - Macoun  - McIntosh  
Swiss Gourmet
$1.49/lb. - $4.00 quart  
  $8.00 ½  peck -  $25.00 ½  bushel (25lb.)

This is a tough category as new apples are popping up every day Crimson Crisp  - Crimson Gold 
Crimson Topaz   
Elstar  - Honeycrisp -  Nittany 

Sweet Sixteen  - Snow Sweet  $1.99/lb.  -  $5.00 quart  
  $10.00 ½ peck   -   $30.00 ½ bushel (25lb.)

An old variety that has become obscure or non-commercial Belle de Boskoop 
Chestnut Crabapple - Golden Russet 
Hidden Rose - Jonathan 
Little Rosybloom 
Northern Spy - Rhode Island Greening
$2.99/lb.  -  $6.00 quart  
 $12.00 ½ peck  -  $40.00 ½ bushel (25lb.)

For more info and to get a complete list of all of the apple varieties we grow, click here.

oct 11.jpg


This week’s variety – HEWES VIRGINIA CRABAPPLE

This apple originated in Virginia in the early 1700’s.  It is the finest cider apple and makes a great dry cider.  Like both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, we planted this apple primarily for hard cider production.  However, we think it is superb as a sweet cider and thought we would let you try it. Hopefully next year, you will get to sample it as “Hard Cider” - Fall 2018 is also when we hope to be selling our own hard cider again. 
“Bite into a Hewes Crab and you’ll be left with a mouthful of lime and quinine; it’s a brutal gin tonic of a fruit.  The bitter, astringent finish carries fruity, hopslike perfume notes.  Somehow that all sugars out into a stunning cider, demonstrating into law that you can’t really predict the quality of the cider from the taste of the fruit.“ -
Rowan Jacobsen,  Apples of Uncommon Character
Our plan is to sell the ‘special’ varietal sweet ciders in glass quart jars.  As the season continues, look for Golden Russet, Northern Spy and more.

We also plan to do blends of apple varieties (Swiss Gourmet, Gala, McIntosh and many others). These we will offer in plastic ½ gallon and gallon jugs starting October 20th.
 We did it!  We bought a doughnut machine and we now lock away Dawn (Noelle and Marissa’s mother who is visiting from Florida) and Susan (who has been making all your jam this season) into the Doughnut Dungeon from Thursday – Sunday where they make spectacular, plump, delicious doughnuts using that great Hewes Virginia Crabapple Cider. So…  Fresh Apple Cider Dougnuts available Thursday – Sundays!!
We have offered you apples for fresh eating, in cider, in doughnuts…. What’s left...

Montgomery Place Orchards
13th Annual Apple Pie Contest
Saturday, October 28th

To those of you new to our Pie Contest – We have ‘themes’ for judges.  We have had Grandma’s, local Chefs,Titans (men over 300 pounds), Mothers and their children who have grown up eating our apples, young Farmers, Mechanics who keep our farm equipment working, Lawyers (so they could be Judges for once), and this year….
People we know named Frank
 The purpose of this contest is to determine which apple varieties are best for apple pie. We thought this would be a fun way to find out and hope that you enjoy it with us.


1.  We will offer two categories this year:
      a)  Double Crust Dessert Apple Pie
      b)  “Anything Goes” Dessert Apple Pie  (Tarte Tatin, Open face, Crumbtop…)
2.  Only apples from Montgomery Place Orchards are to be used.  Upon registration, you will be able to choose ½ peck of apples (of your choice) for use in your pie.  You may register early and pick up your apples closer to the actual contest date.  (There is no charge to you for apples and you may mix apple varieties).
3.  Pies will be judged by a panel of peers in three categories:
a) Appearance
b) Crust
c) Filling
4.  After judging, all leftover pies are deemed the property of Montgomery Place Orchards and will be shared with any hungry people who happen to be at the farm location after the completion of the contest.
5.  Pies MUST be here by 12:00pm on Saturday, October 28th.  Judging will begin at 1:00pm Sharp! 
We ask that you place your name on the bottom of your pie plate so that it can be properly returned to you.  
Apple pie should be eaten “while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!), of a mild and modest warmth, the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied, the morsels of apple neither dissolved nor yet in original substance, but hanging as it were in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood … then, O blessed man, favored by all the divinities! Eat, give thanks, and go forth, ‘in apple-pie order!'”

This newsletter seems so ‘down to business’ like…  I will add one ‘corny’ but final quote.  When I quote this, I hear my husband, imitating my Dad’s Dutch accent,
   “Well, we have all this because of the apple”   ….. Meaning friends, our home, our life.      THANK YOU.....
My dad lived apples – He once gave a speech where he said that we should all live like the apple.

A – is for appreciation.  Give thanks each day and appreciate the beauty around you.
P – is for pride.  Do work that you can be proud of.
P – is for patience.  You learn to have patience when you plant a tree and wait for it to bear fruit.
L – is for Love, you have to have love in the orchard.
E – is for Enthusiasm – Live life to the fullest and enjoy

See you all soon,
Doug and Talea



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Talea Finke