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Simple Servings

Apple Harvest Homemade Favorites

Carol Cogliano
Hollabaugh Bros., Inc.

(9/2016) My favorite time of year is right around the corner: autumn. I might not feel it in the outdoor temperatures yet, but (as an employee of a farmers’ market) I’m starting to see the first crops of apples appearing…so I know it’s fast approaching. I live in the small town of Arendtsville, Pennsylvania – home of the National Apple Harvest Festival – and much of the surrounding area is filled with acres and acres of apple orchards. The sights and smells of autumn are unmistakable, and I look forward to them every year.

As you drive through southcentral Pennsylvania, a common sight is one of apple orchards as far as the eye can see. Although there are countless varieties of apple grown, most of the trees you will see are dwarf apple trees. In the 70’s and 80’s, the apple industry shifted towards the use of dwarf trees, as their small size makes them easier to harvest, and the sun can only penetrate an arm’s length into the branches – so a smaller tree is beneficial. The better sun penetration makes for a better quality apple, with good color and sugar.

Nowadays, there is a shift occurring to the use of trellised growing of taller trees. Taller, skinnier trees allow for even better sun penetration, and they allow farmers to use their acreage and vertical space more wisely. (They can fit more tall, skinny trees on their land than short, wide trees.) Harvesting is accomplished by using platforms, and new trees are ready to produce fruit faster than dwarf trees (which typically take about 3 years to get established, before fruit is harvested).

Have you ever noticed when an apple orchard gets bulldozed? This is calling "pushing out", and farmers do this to dispose of old trees that are done producing fruit. Sometimes farmers will burn the orchards to kill off any unwanted bugs and diseases. From there, they will plant a cover crop for several years (such as corn or soy beans), to allow the soil to refresh and become healthy for a new apple orchard.

Most apples trees can produce fruit for about 25 years, depending on their variety and growing conditions. New apples are discovered all the time, as new trees are started via a root grafting system: planting a fresh cutting that is spliced together with an existing root system. This allows farmers to experiment a bit, if they like, and sometimes they will discover a great new variety! If you ever notice a notch on an apple tree, that’s the spot where the root grafting occurred!

When shopping for apples, be sure to select a variety that is perfect for your intended use. Apple varieties range from tart and firm to soft and sweet. Some are better for baking, while others make great snacking apples. When the crisp autumn air greets you in the weeks to come, and freshly picked apples become available, try preparing one of the following recipes to enjoy some apple harvest homemade favorites in your home.

Fried Apples can serve as a wonderful side dish to a warm, hearty meal…or they can be a sweet, indulgent dessert when served with a scoop of ice cream on top!

Fried Apples

Recipe courtesy of: "The Hollabaugh Family Cookbook"


  • 18 Gold Rush apples, peeled and sliced (or whatever kind of apple you prefer!)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • sugar to taste


  1. In a large skillet, melt butter and brown sugar.
  2. Add apples – they will be mounded – cover and cook about 10 minutes until apples are softened in juice.
  3. Uncover and add cinnamon.
  4. Cook on low until juice becomes thickened, stirring often, about 45 minutes.
  5. Add sugar to taste.

One of my favorite indulgent treats to enjoy at the annual National Apple Harvest Festival in Arendtsville, PA, is a good old-fashioned caramel apple. Sticky, crunchy, chewy and sweet…it’s a flavor that makes you feel like a kid again! The following recipe for Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake brings the flavor of that festival staple into your oven and onto a dessert plate.

P.S. The National Apple Harvest Festival is held the first two weekends in October each year, and is located at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in Arendtsville, PA.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Recipe courtesy of:



  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large apples (peel, cored, and thinly sliced)


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch cake pan well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • To make the topping:
  • Add the butter and brown sugar to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and evenly spread it on the bottom.
  • Top with the apple slices.
  • To make the cake:
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add the vanilla and mix until fully combined.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Mix until everything is just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan on top of the apples.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a large plate.

Apple Crisp is one of the definitive desserts of fall. Warm and cozy…not to mention, economical! Take advantage of the plentiful supply of fresh apples, along with staples from your pantry to prepare a delicious treat for your family.

Apple Crisp

Recipe courtesy of:


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 3 pounds apples, such as Empire, Gala, or Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
  3. Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form.
  4. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples.

Cook’s notes:

  • This cinnamon-scented crisp is best served still warm from the oven, topped with a scoop of vanilla, cinnamon, or caramel ice cream.
  • The secret to a crunchy, chunky topping is working the oat mixture into large clumps with your hands -- this helps the topping hold together atop the apples while toasting to a golden brown.

Read other articles by Carol Cogliano