Reprieve for Gould Hill Orchard
The long-established heirloom apple orchard in Contoocook NH has a new lease on life. The owners, the Leadbetter family, decided to get out of the business a few years ago and much of the property was for sale. The year-to-year future of the orchard was uncertain but now it has been leased to a young family, the Bassetts, who are restructuring the retail area and adding refreshments like fresh-baked donuts. They have full-time jobs and 2 young children but are being mentored by the Leadbetters. With enough work and luck, the orchard will continue to flourish.
Although it's a one-hour drive, I go at least once every fall, for apples that are not grown anywhere else in the area.
Great reminder. This is a very special apple orchard and any kind of farming is tough business. They have an amazing variety of apples and a wonderful view, a treat for all visitors. DH's family grew the typical apples macs, cortlands, baldwins so we are both unfamiliar with the different varieties. It was fun to buy a couple of each to taste test although that's not fair to the cooking varieties. When we get fresh local apples I think about how lucky we are to have people still growing apples.
Greygarious - do you have some favorite varieties to recommend?
Some years ago I bought 3 of everything, one for tasting, one for a tartlet, and one for a bake apple. Some highlights:
LIBERTY - Macoun X (better keeper than Macoun), juicy, good in tart and eating
YELLOW NEWTOWN PIPPIN - Granny Smith-like, very firm, keeps well, excellent in tart
HONEYCRISP - Macoun X, superb crisp, juicy eating, holds shape when baked
HAMPSHIRE - native to Gould Hill, stays white when cut, holds shape when bake. Crisp and juicy but mild in flavor; pretty good in tart
BLUE PEARMAIN - very large, tough skin and fairly dry texture make for excellent baked apple
WEALTHY - good in tart but too perfumy for eating out of hand
ESOPHUS SPITZENBERG - crisp, semi-tart, good in tart
NORTHERN SPY - large, crisp, good eating apple; great in tart
BALDWIN - large, firm, good eating, excellent tart but poor keeper
EMPIRE - great in tart and for eating
MACOUN - great fflavor but mushy in tart, great eating, tart, crisp, poor keeper
SHEEPNOSE - gorgeous shape but bland, dry, mild, poor eaten, baked, tart
These varieties, individually bagged, kept for 5 months in a cooler on the porch over a mild Massachusetts winter. They were not fit for eating, but no rot and fine for sauce:
Yellow Newtown Pippin, Pomme Gris, Granny Smoth, Wagener, Roxbury Russet, Golden Russet.
Tiny eating apples: Pomme Gris has brown skin like a Bosc pear, and a pear-like flavor, dry and crunchy. Chestnut Crabapple is crunchy and richly flavored, like that rare bird, a GOOD Re Delicious. They are great.
just saw this post after googling gould hill to see if they were still in business this year...thanks for the update...so glad to hear that the farm is still there...