For me, apples ARE the autumn, with pumpkin coming in second and mushrooms third. So every year I try to get in a few pies when the apples ripen, and for years I used Granny Smiths. They worked well, but lacked sweetness. I’d have to overcompensate with the sugar or adulterate it with a sweeter apple. It wasn’t working for me. I shouldn’t have ignored another fantastic pie apple, one that’s grown very easily in Belgium and has both sweetness and tartness. One that is a recommended pie apple for its texture and flavor.
I’m of course talking about the humble Jonagold.
Jonagolds require mildly cool growing conditions and are not heat tolerant, something that has prevented them from having any real success as a commercial apple in the United States. They have however been extremely successful in Western Europe, particularly in Belgium where they make up approximately seventy percent of the apples grown and are responsible for making the region one of the leading apple producers in Europe. Jonagold apples are perfect for use in sauces, preserves and jam. You can bake them into pies, tarts, muffins and cakes. Hollow and stuff or cook them whole and baste to make baked apples. Their sweet-tart flavor will complement savory applications as well.
So when Honeybear’s coworker brought in a giant crate of Jonagolds, I was given free choice of them and I decided I HAD to make apple pie filling! I’ll be making a full pie and canning as much filling as I can. Apple sauce isn’t something I enjoy eating, but he enjoys it with his roasted chicken and potatoes and Jonagolds are also great sauce apples, so that’s on the list too.
I love apples, but while I’ve always been a Gala, Pink Lady, and Braeburn kind of girl I find myself growing a soft spot for the Jonagold. It’s steadily becoming my go-to baking apple, and when I have room enough we’ll be featuring them in our orchard.