RON AND CELIA HACKETT have been growing apples for more than 50 years in South Hero, Vermont, on the southern half of South Hero Island in Lake Champlain.
Hackett’s Orchard has a thriving pick-your-own business with more than 30 varieties of apples, including a number of heirlooms, on 50 acres of land conserved through the South Hero and Vermont Land Trusts. In addition to apples, its orchard store features a bakery, a number of locally made farm products, and their own berries, pumpkins, and other fruits and vegetables.
It did not start out that way. When the Hacketts bought the former Larrow Orchard in 1967 they had no experience growing apples. With the help of University of Vermont Extension and other apple growers they learned, but for 20 years Ron continued to work for the phone company to supplement their income.
Celia was heavily involved in the orchard, overseeing the wholesale business, even picking and grading apples, all while raising their daughters, Jill and Deb. Like many rural New England orchards, most of Hackett’s apples were sold wholesale until the orchard introduced pick-your-own in the late 1980s.
The Hacketts enjoy baking apples as much as growing and selling them. We featured their excellent Apple Brownies earlier this fall; here are two more from their kitchen. Their daughter, Deb Plumley, sent us the recipe for Glazed Apple Cookies.
We came across Ron’s Cider Donuts during our research. We haven’t made them yet, but they look well worth a try.
Glazed Apple Cookies are Ron’s favorites, says Deb. She suggests using McIntosh, although most any variety will do, even a harder, late-season apple like Fuji:
The original recipe for Glazed Apple Cookies is from Jackie Henry, who started picking apples in the late 1960s, says Deb. “After Jackie retired from picking he worked in the bakery, making apple pies for many years.”
Jackie knew what he was doing. The cookies are delicious — soft and chewy, and packed with flavor. We made a few changes from the original, using half whole wheat flour and substituting maple syrup for brown sugar.
Glazed Apple Cookies
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
¾ c maple syrup
½ c butter, softened
½ t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
½ t nutmeg
1 egg (beaten)
1 c unpeeled apples (chopped)
1 c raisins
½ c chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
¼ c apple cider or milk
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Stir flours with baking soda.
In large bowl, mix butter with maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and egg until well blended.
Stir in half the flour mixture
Stir in apples, raisins, and nuts.
Blend in cider/milk.
Stir in remaining flour mixture.
Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 11-14 minutes.
Spread glaze on top while cookies are still hot.
1½ c confectionary sugar
1 T butter, melted
¼ t vanilla,
2½ T milk or cream
Ron Hackett’s Cider Donuts
4 c flour
5 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
¾ c sugar
¼ c shortening
⅔ c apple cider
1 t vanilla
shortening for deep frying
Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Cream together sugar and shortening. Blend in eggs.
Combine cider and vanilla; add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry. Blend thoroughly after each addition.
Chill for easier handling. Roll dough ½-inch thick, cut with floured donut cutter.
Fry in deep, hot shortening (375°F) 1 to 2 minutes on each side until golden brown; turning only once. Drain on absorbent paper.
Each month features a different apple variety and New England orchard, with photography by Bar Lois Weeks and Russell Steven Powell.
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New England Apple Association
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