Apple Pickin’ Time
October 3, 2013
There’s something about a change in season that always makes me yearn to get outside with my camera. As I try to cross things off my “Canadian girl bucket list”, I decided a trip to an apple orchard would kill a few proverbial birds with one stone. Lucky for me, my intrepid mom was game to come along for a beautiful afternoon!
Seeing as how we are both chronically over-prepared for everything, Mom and I had separately researched our options on the Internet, and came up with the same two choices for destinations. She had done me one better, however, and noted the closing times should dictate the order.
We headed to Applewood Farm Winery first, located on McCowan Rd in Stouffville:
They offer pick-your-own strawberries earlier in the season, then pumpkins and a wide variety of apples in fall, all accessed by wagon ride. They charge $5 for the trip out to the orchard, but offer a $5 rebate on their normal $25 fee for a bag of apples. You can stuff those bags pretty full, so $20 is a deal!
The family in front of us on our wagon ride was raving about the honeycrisp apples, saying they are by far their favourite and the best for eating. Somehow neither my mom nor I had ever tried them, so we had another first to add to the experience.
We made our way to the rows of honeycrisp apples (everything perfectly signed for ease of reference), and proceeded to each taste an apple that was fresh-picked and warmed by the sun. Wow.
Mom and I made our way among the rows of apples, alternating between the honeycrisp trees and the red delicious ones beside them, and filled two bags in no time. It was sad to see the amount of beautiful fruit that went to waste on the ground–too much for even the wasps and animals to take advantage of.
Back at the entrance, we paid for our bags and saw other less adventurous souls approach the cash to simply buy baskets of ready-picked apples. Where is the fun in that now?
We made our way back to the car, and passed an outhouse with the hand-lettered sign, “Used 1875 – 2010″. Kind of an odd item to save for posterity, but who am I to judge?
After dropping off our heavy bags we hustled into the winery store, and were surprised to find they offered free tastings. I’m not usually a big fan of fruit wine, but the few we sampled were all DELICIOUS. It held true that I never leave a wine store empty-handed.
Realizing we only had about an hour left, we hustled back to the car and made our way to the second orchard we wanted to visit, Organics Family Farm:
This farm appealed to us because in addition to apple picking in the orchard, it boasted a store with fresh-baked organic goods, and an assortment of frozen organic meats. We were expecting an orchard similar in size to Applewood, but Organics is much smaller. And although they offer 20 different varieties of apples, the rows are not signed, so we weren’t sure what varieties were on the trees we saw.
The store, however, did not disappoint. The woman behind the counter told us she’d baked all the bread in the outdoor oven that morning (a seed bread with a sourdough base), the butter/pecan tarts were also fresh made that day, and she was in the process of making several apple pies. It smelled divine in there! I checked through the cuts of meat available in the freezer, and walked out with steaks, hamburgers, peameal bacon, pork tenderloin, pork chops, and ham with split pea soup. The dense, chewy bread was even better than expected, and the meat tasted entirely different from our usual grocery store fare. We try to buy organic, free-range meats as often as possible (in addition to trying to eat less meat overall), but these cuts were so much more flavourful! I can’t wait to go back to both of these farms. It’s hard to believe this is all available less than an hour from where we live!