I love visiting farmers markets wherever I am in the world to explore the diversity of local produce and foods, talk with farmers, and soak in the festive atmosphere. And, I am never disappointed in my regular jaunts to markets when visiting family in Chicago. During my recent visit, I found an incredible offering of apples I had never heard of grown by Nichol’s Farm. They had colorful bins arranged in two long parallel lines, fully stocked with apples arranged from the most tart to the sweetest.
I decided to experiment with many of these beautiful apple varieties by simply baking them with a touch of maple syrup and doused in cinnamon, with the intention of letting their flavors and textures be the centerpiece of the dish. The fruit alone would stand out for each of its deliciousness. And, what better (and super easy) dessert for Rosh Hashana?
I chose the following apple varieties grown at Nichol’s Farm: Tydemans Red, State Fair, William’s Pride, Zestar, Paula Red, Summer Mac and Cherry Pearmain (look at the complete list on their site and you’ll be amazed by the number of varieties they grow).
There are an amazing 7,500 types of cultivated varieties of apples worldwide. And the opportunity for more types never ends because new apples trees are grafted from rootstocks. I visited an orchard near my house recently that is growing historic varieties from the 1800s. So, the opportunity and fun of searching out for the most obscure apple you can find (hint: not at your local supermarket) is something I recommend!
You might ask, why eat apples at Rosh Hashana? Besides being in season during Rosh Hashana and a delicious and versatile fruit, there are religious traditions associated with the fruit. “The apple symbolizes Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), which according to the Midrash has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.”
Rosh Hashana Easy Baked Apples
6 different types of apples
1 generous teaspoon of maple syrup
1-2 tbsp walnuts
optional: plain almond, coconut or soy yogurt (regular or frozen); pomegranate seeds, raisins, vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Wash and core the apples (it’s easy to use a knife if you do not have an apple corer).
- Place them in the pan and fill each 1/4-1/2 way from their base with water. Drizzle maple syrup into each and generously sprinkle the outside and inside with cinnamon. Optional to sprinkle raisins inside each one and a drop of vanilla extract.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until soft. There might be a variation in baking time based on the types of apples you use, but I baked all of mine together for the same amount of time, even though one started to collapse.
- Remove from heat and serve warm or cool. Before serving, sprinkle with walnuts and/or pomegranate seeds. I served mine at room temperature with plain almond yogurt. Served warm with coconut or soy ice cream would also be delicious.
Shana tova u’metukah! v’b’tayavon!