Professor Profiles: Tom Beisecker, orchardist

Tom Beisecker is an associate professor and the Department of Communication Studies chair. He and Andrea Norris operate Beisecker Farms –  a commercial apple orchard located near Baldwin City. 

 

 

When and why did you decide to become involved with the orchard?

The orchard is my creation.  I first planted apple trees in 1978 when we moved to the country, and I’ve been adding trees and apple varieties periodically.  The latest plantings were in 2012, and I anticipate replacing some of the trees next year.  We started with what, in the 1970’s, were the standard apple varieties – Jonathan, Red Delicious, McIntosh and Winesap.  We added Golden Delicious, Galas and Romes about ten years later, and we currently have 13 different varieties under cultivation.

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What’s the best part about working on the operation?

Being outside.  We need to prune the trees every year, and pruning can be very therapeutic.

With any agricultural operation some of the best parts and greatest frustrations go hand in hand.  It is very satisfying to see an apple tree laden with properly colored fruit and to market apples that have flavor you can get only when locally grown.  The companion frustration is that some years Kansas weather just doesn’t cooperate.

What is your favorite apple recipe?

Braised Pork Chops with Apple & Onion

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1 large tart apple (Granny Smith works well)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Finely slice the onion.  Core and finely slice the apple.

In a medium frying pan, cook the onion and apple over moderate heat with a small amount of olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Remove from the pan to a bowl.

In the same pan cook the pork chops.  When they are almost done, return the apple and onion mixture to the pan.  Add the Balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by at least one third.  Serve.