Your Heirloom Apple Adventure Starts Here ...
… with our region’s largest selection of Eco-certified apple heirloom varieties from The Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. Or sample a few favorites with our Heirloom Discovery Pack, a new custom design in sustainable packaging.
Look for heirloom apples at any of the orchards in the Eco network— there is an apple story and flavor for every taste!
Heirloom apples are old varieties that have been grown, savored, and passed down for generations, sometimes for centuries.
They come in every color, size, and shape. Each one is unique. Alongside the sweet and somewhat mild flavor of most modern apples, heirlooms offer an appreciation of the full range of what apples can be. Some develop their best flavor after being stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Some are delightful fresh off the tree, and others are at their best in baking or sauce. Looks can be deceiving—remember, these apples were grown for flavor! Visit our guide to heirloom apples to identify and learn about the varieties in your pack and dozens more.
For more adventures and exploration of the wonders of apples — heirlooms, orchards, baking and more — here are some of our favorite books, websites and blogs:
- Apples of Uncommon Character (2013) by Rowan Jacobsen
- Apples of North America: Exceptional Varieties for Growers, Gardeners and Cooks (2013) by Tom Burford, winner of the 2014 American Horticulture Society Book Award
- Good Apples: Behind Every Bite (2017) by Susan Futrell. Futrell is the Director of Marketing at Red Tomato, and many of the Eco-certifed farms in our network are profiled in the book!
- Apples of New England (2014) by Russell Steven Powell
- The Apple Lovers Cookbook 3rd edition (2020) by Amy Traverso, senior food editor for Yankee Magazine
- Apple: Recipes from the Orchard (2019) by James Rich
Websites & blogs:
- New England Apples, a nonprofit association dedicated to the regions apples and orchards, has a fantastic website full of recipes, orchard profiles, apple varieties, and lots of beautiful photos. Sign up for their blog post, by author Russell Powell, weekly during apple season.
- Out On A Limb Apples is the website of well-known Maine apple guru John Bunker. Extensive resource on finding and identifying apple varieties, recipes, and John’s blog.
- The Pandemic and the Ancient Apple Tree by John Bunker, a timely blog shared by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in summer 2020.
The need to reduce plastic waste in packaging for fresh produce has been a topic of discussion at Red Tomato for years – it’s important to us as individuals, as an organization, and to the farmers we work with.
Meanwhile, single-use plastic in the produce world has steadily grown. The reasons are complex: plastic improves shelf-life, limits handling, protects produce from damage, and allows customers to see the product. While more expensive than selling loose produce with no packaging at all, plastic is often significantly less costly than alternatives. Each retail customer has packaging requirements based on their customer and handling needs, and growers must meet those requirements to stay in the game. That means absorbing the time required to assemble and pack each unit, as well as cost of the packaging itself, all of which eats into a farm’s already slim margins.
It’s for these reasons that despite hours of research, our Art & Packaging Director, Diane Rast, found no good options to transition our products into more sustainable packaging. Red Tomato provides packaging design, and manages printing and bulk packaging orders as part of our support for local farms. Last year, Diane decided to take matters into her own hands and set out on what would be a year-long journey to build a brand new apple package from scratch.
The process has been incredible to watch from start to finish. More countless hours of researching, meeting with vendors, testing designs with our farmers, going back to the drawing board and doing it all over again and again and again. A year later, behold: the Heirloom Discovery Pack. We couldn’t be more proud of the final product.
The paper is 100% recyclable corrugated suitable for common community recycling programs, and meets rigorous standards to receive Certified Sourcing seal from the globally-recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
The designs are printed with Eekoflex inks that are water based, derived from paper residue and plant based materials whenever possible, with little to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), minimal hazardous materials, and no heavy metals. The inks are shipped in reground plastic buckets, reused 55 gallon drums or returnable totes.
The factory where the boxes are made and printed is a 185-year-old independent family-owned paper manufacturer based in a small town in New England. All of the water leaves their building after passing through a filtration system, making their factory zero discharge for wastewater. Most of our plastic packaging must be produced and shipped from China, so we’re especially happy to be able to shorten the supply chain and support a business in our own region.
With all of those benefits, the box still delivers durability, ease of assembly and packing, and customer visibility and convenience. All of this does cost more, and Red Tomato and the growers are both contributing time and margin to support this project.
If the Heirloom Discovery Pack does well, we hope to roll out other sustainable packaging innovations over the next several years. As others in the produce industry also move toward sustainable alternatives, options will become more available and affordable. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this important change — for ourselves, for the farmers and for the earth.
We hope you’ll keep an eye out for these packs at Whole Foods and other regional stores. Happy discovering!
Applesauce is the easiest way to eat an apple-a-day!
The easiest way to cook apples, and a favorite for all ages. Use any variety or a mix of several—the more flavorful the apples, the better the sauce! Serve as a side dish with any meal, and as garnish, snack or dessert. Serve warm or chilled.
- 6-8 apples, any variety-a mix of tart and sweet is best
- 1/2 C water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 T honey or sugar—optional; depending on the apples, taste and add if needed as the apples cook.
- Peel and core apples and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 “ slices or cubes. Mix in lemon juice.
- Place in saucepan with 1/2 cup water; apples will release more liquid as they cook. Add cinnamon and optional sweetener. Simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 min, or until apples are soft. Add lemon, spice and sweetener as needed, to taste.
- For chunky applesauce, stir and let cool.
- For smoother sauce, cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring to blend.
- For extra smooth texture, pulse in blender or press the sauce through a mesh strainer. If you plan to strain or blend the sauce, cook with the peels on for added flavor and color.
Makes 6 servings. Double or triple the ingredient amounts for a larger batch; keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Variations: Instead of cinnamon, try cardamom, nutmeg your favorite savory spice blend. Or add a sprig or two of lemon verbena or thyme with mild-flavored apples, or for more intensely-flavored fruit, try rosemary or basil.
This simple, light dish can be served cold or at room temperature, and can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated, where the flavors will continue to meld and deepen.
- 6-8 apples, one variety or mix; choose apples that are crisp and good when eaten fresh
- 2-3 T orange juice
- 1 T lemon juice to prevent browning
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 C raisins
- 3/4 C chopped raw pecans or walnuts (optional)
- a sprig or two of fresh mint (optional)
- Cut apples into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with lemon juice as you cut, to prevent browning. Add raisins, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. Stir.
- Garnish with mint leaves, whole or chopped
Makes 6-8 servings.
Variations: Try any other juice in place of orange (think cranberry, pomegranate, or mango) Add other fresh fruits in season: berries, peaches, grapes and plums are especially nice. For a savory version: add 1 C of chopped celery, cabbage, kale or romaine lettuce; substitute cardamom, ginger, cumin or curry spices for the cinnamon, and use fresh basil, celery leaves or marjoram instead of mint.
A satisfying dessert, simple enough for everyday, and delicious enough to serve to guests.
- 2 C. sliced, peeled or skin-on (3-4 apples cut into ½” slices)
- 3/4 C rolled oats
- ½ C all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- ¼-1/2 C. brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ C (one stick) butter, salted or unsalted, softened but not melted
- ¼ tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
- ½ C chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Use one tablespoon of the butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan, and sprinkle one tablespoon flour onto pan, shake to coat. Spread sliced apples evenly in pan.
- In a bowl, mix the oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon, and nuts and salt if using. Stir so ingredients are mixed evenly.
- Add the butter mix into dry ingredients—use clean hands and fingers or a spoon or spatula. Mix gently until oats are coated—it will be clumpy and stiff.
- Spoon or drop the oat mixture across the top of the apples so they are loosely but evenly covered.
- Bake for 30 min., or until the topping is browned and the apples are soft—test with a fork, and bake 10-15 min. longer if the apples are still firm.
- Serve warm, with a spoonful of ice cream or whipped cream for an extra treat!
Variations: Experiment with other sweet spices like cardamom and allspice. Try pistachios instead of pecans. Add ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries. Add ½ cup whole cranberries, or mix in sliced pears in place of some of the apples; they will soften more quickly and the flavors and textures blend perfectly for a fall delight.
Baking at its most basic—fun for kids, and quick enough to put in the oven while you are prepping the rest of the meal. Choose denser, more flavorful apples like Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, McIntosh and many heirlooms, all are better for baking than mild, juicy varieties like Honeycrisp.
One whole apple per person—select fruit that is all the same size for even baking.
For each apple:
- 1 tsp brown sugar,
- 1 tsp butter, softened
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1T raisins, chopped or whole (optional)
- 1T pecans or walnuts, chopped or whole (optional)
- Wash fruit well with mild soap and cool water. Do not peel.
- Cut out the stem, seeds and core, while leaving the apple whole and the bottom ½ inch of the apple intact—use a small paring knife to cut a circle around the core, then a small spoon to scoop out seeds, leaving a cone-shaped hollow in the middle of the apple about 1” wide at the top.
- Mix butter, sugar, and cinnamon together, add nuts and raisins if desired.
- Set apples in a baking dish, and add ½ inch of warm water to keep them moist and prevent sticking. Fill the center of each apple with a generous spoonful of the butter/sugar mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 min. Baking time will vary depending on the size and variety of apple; check every 15 minutes and keep baking until you can stick a fork or toothpick into the apples and they are soft all the way to the middle.
- Serve whole while warm. Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
Variations: Play around with fillings! Add rolled oats for crunch, pistachios for the nuts, and dried cranberries instead of or along with the raisins. Drizzle in a teaspoon of maple syrup in place of sugar. Try grated cheese in place of butter, and combine with savory spices or herbs like rosemary. The simplicity of the apples allows your creativity to shine.