Apples and Bees and Chickens, Oh My!

email-logoAt Sam Kedem Nursery and Garden, it’s apple time. Pick-Your-Own (PYO) apple varieties like Honeycrisp, red Haralson, Red Prairie Spy, and Sweet 16 are now in season.
The nursery’s owners, Sam and Rachel Kedem moved to Minnesota from Israel in 1981. In 1988 they put down roots, figuratively and literally, in Hastings, where they established a rose nursery, raising hardy roses they would eventually become known for.
The farm was established in 1996 at a nearby location; shrubs, perennials, ornamental, fruit, shade, and evergreen trees were added. On the farm, which is open April through October, Sam raises free-range chickens and bees and grows an impressive variety of certified organic fruit, including PYO and those available at their store. They rely on natural and biological methods, as opposed to synthetic inputs. Since apples consistently rank near the top of the annual Dirty Dozen list (list of foods highest in pesticide residue), this is a big deal. They also offer membership programs tailored to various households as well as co-ops, with a focus on personal wellness, responsible farming and safe environment.
The store at the farm is a quintessential Americana farm stand; apple pies, fruit preserves, eggs, honey, poultry and seasonal produce are available.
While the farm is a bit more bare-bones than fancier PYO establishments that include hay rides and petting zoos, at Sam Kedem Nursery and Garden it’s back to the basics in the best way possible: fresh air, organic food, and a family atmosphere that is second to none.
If you are like my family, once you start picking apples you can’t stop, and you go home with eight pounds more than you came for. What to do with all the apples you’ve picked? My favorite Jewish food blogger, Smitten Kitchen, has a suggestion.
kedem-applesJewish Apple Cake
6 apples (I like McIntosh)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones and add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.