Farm to Restaurant

Farm to Restaurant: Fuji Apples “Are the Shit”

Photo: Kirsten Henri

Before “farm-to-table” was a culinary craze, it was simply the way everyone ate. Today’s discriminating eaters may be hyper-aware of where their food comes from, but do they know how it got there? How do farmers select their crops? Why do chefs choose a particular variety of fruit or fowl? In this occasional series we talk to producers and chefs to see how food gets from Farm to Restaurant. In this installment: Fuji Apples

Ben Wenk, owner of Three Springs Fruit Farm, Wenksville, PA

“Our orchard is in North Adams county, close to Gettysburg. Our family has been farming in some form or another for seven generations. We have about 350 acres to grow fruit, we have 200 acres of apples - but we’re getting a lot smaller because we’re kicking out the processing apples - ours are used to make Musselman’s products. It’s what we were born into, but we’ve seen the success of growing processing apples diminishing. I got a degree in agriculture ecology from Penn State and decided farmers’ markets would be more beneficial, so now we’re growing for fresh market apples instead of processing. We use integrated pest management - it means we take a look at the orchard every day. We set up traps to monitor the flight and population of insects that damage crops. We take inventory of what’s out there and if there’s nothing out there to spray for, we don’t spray. Why spend time to spray when there’s nothing there? We also use pheremones - we have ties that release a female moth pheremone cloud. It confuses the males and they can’t mate. We grow all different varieties of apples - our Fujis are the Myra strain - there are probably 20 different Fuji strains at the point. It’s very sweet, but has a little bit of spiciness. Fujis and Galas have a syrupy kind of sweetness - people associate sweet with Red Delicious, which is more of a watery sweetness. They’re crispy, crunchy and have a good shelf life - if you bought a Fuji this week and kept it in the crisper, it would probably stay good til February.”

Fall Apple Salad at South Philadelphia Tap Room

Scott Schroeder, chef of South Philadelphia Tap Room

“I’m making this fall apple salad - I don’t normally tell people how proud I am of a dish, but I’m really proud of this one. We use whatever apples have been delivered, but I like Fujis, Ginger Golds are nice too. Sometimes it’s a mix. The salad has chopped watercress, a lot of fresh mint, some green onion, crumbled goat cheese, a lot of black pepper and some salt. We slice the apple to order and add that in there. Then we take a cold pan, add butter and cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, turn it on high and let the mushrooms get super crispy, then we fold it into the salad. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this and it’s such a nice fall salad.”

Double-cut Pork Chop with Roasted Apples at Meme

David Katz, chef-owner of Meme

“I love to use apples, especially Fujis. I’m putting a few more dishes with apple on the menu in the next week or so. Like this whole-roasted apple dessert, we slow-roast it in a deep pan. Then we pour the glazing juices on it and serve it over toasted pound cake with almond ice cream. I’m putting the foie gras tart back on the menu soon too - we serve it with caramelized onions and roasted apples. Right now, I’m using roasted apples with a double cut pork chop. We prepare them by peeling and coring the apples, then we put them in a pan that fits them snug and fill the core hole with ginger, a cinnamon stick, butter and cloves. Then we sprinkle them liberally with dark brown sugar, honey, lemon juice and brandy. Then roast them in a 250 degree oven for two to three hours and baste them while they’re cooking. They are the shit.”

Farm to Restaurant: Fuji Apples “Are the Shit”