|Apple, Golden Beet and Savoy Cabbage Salad|
Have you ever wanted to pick an apple from your own apple tree? Me too. I dream about it all the time. There remains just that one small problem of living in an apartment with no back yard. Or maybe you have a back yard but no apple tree in it. Or the apples on the tree you have are not fit for eating. Or, or. In Finland, there is now at least one solution to that problem.
Last week was a celebration of the Harvest season. It started off with a trip to Råbäckin maatila, a small organic apple farm in Espoo run by an entrepreneurial farmer Rikard Korkman who sells his apples in a different sort of way. Instead of waiting for his apples to ripen, to see what kind of yield he’ll get, and then going down to the local bulk buyers to see what kind of price they’ll offer him, he’s made the apple season much more fun and personal for those of us who don’t own apple trees. You can buy annual “shares” of the apple farm. Yep, that’s right: you can “own” an apple tree on his farm Or two.
Since this year was the first year of yield, each share, costing €40 annually, was comprised of 10 trees per share owner, and each owner received whatever yield those trees delivered.
The estimation is that you’ll get about 15 kilos (33 lbs) per share; this year the summer crops delivered in abundance with each share owner getting roughly 50 kilos (110 pounds!) of apples. The winter apples didn’t fare quite as well due to an unusual cold spell during all of June which reduced the rate of pollination, so the average yield came in at 8-12 kilos, which the Rikard supplemented with other apple varieties to reach the 15 kilo mark. Look at these beauties:
|My apples: Punainen Åkerö (substitute apples, left) and from my trees, Amarosa (right)|
It’s an excellent deal all around: Rikard knows he’ll sell all of his apples; in fact, they are sold before the first apple bloom blossoms on his farm each Spring. He knows to whom he is selling his apples, so the relationship feels much more personal, for both Rikard and for consumers like me. I love feeling like I am helping to support a local producer, and so do 131 other people/families/shareholders. The waiting list is long too, with 90 people/families in line waiting for Rikard’s apple trees to grow in size so that they too can join in on the apple harvest. Next year and each consecutive year afterward, as the apple trees provide a larger yield, one share will be comprised of fewer trees, with the intention of keeping the target yield per share the same.
We went down to the orchard to take a look at “our” trees (of which I sadly have no picture), and it is clear how much love and care is put into the place. I loved seeing my name hanging on the trees, and picking a few of the apples hanging from the branches. Walking into the barn felt like a step back in time: as the sweet, sharp, cozy scent of apples met my nose, I was drawn back to my childhood, when Mr Block the apple farmer from Eastern Washington would show up with a huge delivery of apples for our friends, neighbors, and quite a pile for us kids to munch too. I am already looking forward to going back to Råbäck Farms next year. Thank you, Rikard!
On Saturday and Sunday, 4-5 October, Slow Food Vastnyland held the Slow Food Farmer’s festival in Fiskars, a lovely artisan village about 1.5 hours outside of Helsinki. This was the second year I had visited this market, so I knew what I was looking for: fresh, crisp, sweet Savoy cabbages; red and golden beets, dark malted rye bread from Backer’s Bakery, Butternut Squash and Uchiki Kuri Squash (I saved the seeds from both for my own garden next year); huge, red Rosamunda potatoes for making baked potatoes (though I didn’t find the Blue Congo I was hoping for), and cauliflower in purple, neon green and white. Not to mention big jars of gorgeous, green, garlic scented olives from Ruukkikylän Herkut – my oh my, those olives are worth the trip all by themselves.
So there I was with my 15 kilos of apples and my huge bag of produce so I had to get cooking. All week, the kitchen has smelled of apple crisp and apple cake, and the hum of the food dryer full of apple slices has been filling this house with music. We’ve had roasted butternut squash with sautéed Savoy cabbage, flavored with Asian spices and served over soba noodles; butternut squash pancakes flavored with chili and Rosemary thanks to Jamie Oliver’s Jamie magazine and the delicious recipes found within…
…and then we’ve had salad. Like this one.
I needed a salad fit to put the full flavors of that beautiful fall produce on display. So I roasted a golden beet, shredded and apple, chopped some cabbage, and alongside of a small stack of butternut squash pancakes, served a salad fit for the Harvest season.
|Apple, Golden Beet & Savoy Cabbage Salad served with Butternut Squash Pancakes – delish!|
Apple, Golden Beet and Savoy Cabbage Salad
2 large leaves of Savoy Cabbage
1 golden beet, roasted until tender
1 large winter apple, grated on a box grater
1/2 onion, diced, rinsed under running cold water and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
If you don’t already happen to have roasted beets on hand from another project, roast them first.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Wash the beet to remove all dirt and cut off the long root tip. Prick holes in a few places with a knife tip, and wrap the beet in aluminum foil. I usually cook several beets at once as they take a long time to roast, but keep well in the fridge for a few days. Place the foil-wrapped beets on a pan in the oven and bake until they are tender when a knife is poked through: 45 – 90 minutes (seriously!) depending on the size of your beets. Remove from the oven, cool completely, and remove skin.
Now that you have your beet ready to go, slice it into thin rounds, then stack the rounds and slice the beet again to form matchsticks.
Remove the rib from the center of each cabbage leaf, cut each leaf into quarters, stack the quarters, and cut the cabbage quarters into thin slices.
Combine the beet, cabbage, apple and onion in a small mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix to coat the vegetables with the dressing. Taste; and add salt and pepper as needed to your liking.
Serves 2-4. Easily doubled or tripled to serve more hungry people.