Friday, November 30, 2012

Last day of apple picking is Fri, Dec 7th.

Good morning!

Just wanted to give an update.

After analyzing the situation, we have decided our last day of apple picking for this year will be Friday, December 7th. 

Thank you so much for the great year!  God definitely had blessed us with beautiful apples this year and customers who have so much fun when they come out.

You must all be telling your friends because we seem to have new people every year.  Thanks for the word of mouth advertising!

I will admit, it is always strange at the end of August to have all these people showing up at our farm.  But by December when apple season is over, it always seems way too quiet and sad without you all!!!  It has been fun to hear all your stories and all the plans you have for the apples.

Hope to see you again next year!  We will be working hard until then to grow some nice apples!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Still hanging in here with apples on the trees

 A quick check of the orchard showed quite a bit of Granny Smith, Gold Rush and Pink Lady left.   A decent amount of Braeburn and just a small amount of Fuji all the way at the far end of the row.

We are expecting to close the orchard for the year in the next week or two so it looks like your last chance for apples.  

Don't forget that if you store apples in the fridge or a cool place, especially these later varieties, they will stay good for several months (if not longer). 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yep, we still have apples!

Just drove around and took the tour.  

Still lots of Granny Smith and Gold Rush!!
Definitely a decent amount of Pink Lady.
And also some Braeburn and Fuji

For the Braeburn, your best bet for finding them is to go to the southwest corner of the orchard by the road.    

(While you are in the Braeburn section, you will see some Red Delicious over there too.  The Red Delicious are a dark red apple with a pointy bottom.  Now I would honestly say that in my opinion, these are the nastiest apples to buy at the grocery store and I avoid them.  But just now trying one of the Red Delicious out in the orchard, WOW!  They are not even the same.  They are crunchy and sweet and not mushy at all.  If you are over picking Braeburn, grab a few to put in your bucket and try them!!

For Fuji and Pink Lady, just walk about halfway down the row and you will find plenty. 

We are still planning on having apples through Thanksgiving.  After that, it will be week by week to see what is left.  Just keep checking the blog, or call if you are wondering if we are still open.

Actual Thanksgiving Day will be low key around here.  It will be self service if you are wanting to pick for some reason.

A few rows are getting muddy and some are just fine, so bring cruddy shoes or boots if you are worried. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pink of the orchard!

Pink Lady is the star of the orchard right now!  

The following 3 pictures are all Pink Lady.  We have plenty left with half a mature row still available.

 Second star of the orchard would be Gold Rush.  Lots of these nice apples left too.

 No picture of Granny Smith but we have lots of these left on the 2 short rows.  (Skip the main long row and look for the 2 short rows just next to it.)

We have 2 rows of Rome and there are apples on the far end of each. 

A decent amount of Braeburn left.  There is quite a bit in the  far southeast corner of the orchard out by the road.  In the main young row of Braeburn, there are a little left at the south end, but you will find more in the corner area that I just talked about.

You will still find some Jonagold out there.  They have been hanging awhile so they are definitely ripe but still have a nice crisp crunch to them.

Also available are Fuji, Red Delicious, and a little Golden Delicious.

So we still have a nice selection out there.  Just have to walk to the ends of the rows to find them!

Dehydrating be continued...

To continue you on with our dehydrating apple talk, we received some good advice from Elise, who has quite a bit of experience with drying.  Thought you would like to hear from her experience.  Thank you for sharing Elise!

 1. Use a variety of apple that works well in your "peeler". Oversized apples are a pain to peel by hand and by picking varieties that fit your peeler you will cut down on the work by a HUGE amount.

2. Use as ascorbic acid (500 mg vitamin C pills with no additives) as a good replacement for fruit fresh or pineapple juice to prevent browning.  I use 6-8 tablets dissolved in a container of cold water and throw the whole sliced and peeled apples in and then cut them in rings when I pull them out to put on the tray.

3. I dry my apples to the brittle or near brittle stage because I happen to like them that way and there is little chance of them having hidden slices that are damp enough to cause problems.  I store them in the food saver vacuum sealed bags and then toss in freezer-just to be safe.

4. I use dried apples in muffins and take the frozen apples directly from freezer and beat'em with a rolling pin to shatter into small shards.  Throw the shards in cool water to cover and plump up, then add to muffins.  Wonderful added to bran muffins along with raisins, pecans to make a hearty and nutritious muffin!

5. My dog loves dried apples as a training "treat"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dehydrating apples

Apple Update:

We still have lots of apples still to choose from out here on the farm.

Lots of Pink Lady, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Gold Rush, Rome, Cameo and some Melrose if you walk to the far south of the row.

We are guessing apples will be available until sometime around Thanksgiving.

I will have to say I am impressed with you guys.  Last weekend, it was RAINING, and you guys still came out!  A tad crazy I think you all are, but very impressed with the way you just come out and get your picking done.  A brave soul our customers are :)

But the good news is.......This weekend looks like GREAT weather!  Sunny and mild.  Thank goodness for that!

Other Happenings:

I have been playing around with dehydrating apples.  It was my first time and I was surprised how easy it was!

If you are interested in drying apples, here is how I did it:

I decided to experiment with many of the different kinds of apples to see if each variety made a big difference in flavor, how long they took to dry, etc.

First I used my apple peeler/corer to skin and core my apples.  Plus it cuts the apples into even slices.  Very important when you are drying apples because you want the slices to dry at the same rate.  You could do thicker slices too if you were cutting by hand, just try to make the all about the same size. 1/8-1/4" slices are best.

Once they are off the peeler, all I do is cut them in half.  Then I will have moon shaped apple slices.

With the dehydrator I had, it recommended soaking the apples in pineapple juice.  (There were other options too but this seemed the most simple).  You can soak them anywhere from 5 minutes to awhile longer.  I chose to soak for 5 minutes.   I also did a tray of slices that I did not soak in anything.  Honestly there didn't seem to be a huge difference besides maybe turning a bit more brown than the slices soaked in pineapple juice.

Place the apples on the trays.  Very important the slices don't overlap.  Anywhere they overlap, that part will not be as dry as the other half of the apple.  You don't want uneven drying.

You can also sprinkle the slices with cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever spices you like.  I chose not to this time around.

I labeled each tray so I could have a taste test at the end.

I used a NESCO Food Dehydrator.  This one has a fan.  I guess some of them don't?  It took about 6 hours to dry these apples.  A friend of mine has a dehydrator without a fan and it takes overnight to dry the apples on hers.  So there is a big difference in drying time.  Basically it is trial by error and keeping watch to get it just right.

When the apples are done, they will be flexible, not brittle, and not really sticky or wet.
I learned there are 2 ways to tell if the apples are done drying.  The first one is break the apple slice in half and if you can see beads of moisture, then the apple is not dry enough.  Another way is to immediately place some warm apple slices in a bag and look for condensation.  If you see condensation, then the apples are still too moist.  Put back on and dry for longer.  

I also noticed that I need to put the bigger size slices toward the inside of the tray because the fan seems to dry the center apples a little faster than the outside.  

Another batch of apples.

From the directions, it seemed like it was saying I could use the bottom base tray (the one without slots), to dry apples on too.  I don't know I will anymore because they always seem WAY less dry than the other trays. 

Once the apples are dried, store them in ziploc plastic bags.  You can put them in the freezer or just on your kitchen shelf for 6-9 months.  You can also rehydrate the apples to use in muffins, oatmeal, etc by soaking the apple slices in water anywhere from an hour to 2 hours.  Something to experiment with!

Taste testing results: 
 There were differences in the apple varieties.  I liked all of them for sure.  Even better is mixing them all up and putting them in a bag and getting a surprise.

The Fuji, Braeburn, Gala, Jonagold and Ruby Jon had a milder flavor.  The Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Gold Rush had a bit more kick which I liked.  I think my overall favorite was Pink Lady.  It had the most flavor of them all...a tiny bit of tart zing with a mild sweet background flavor.  My husband would say Fuji was his favorite.

No Dehydrator?  You can use your oven!!

If you don't have a dehydrator, I was reading online that you can also dry apples in the your oven.  The slices dried the fastest when you put them on a cookie sheet rack, rather than straight on the cookie sheet but both would work. (You will need to flip the slices if you put them on a cookie sheet)  Set the oven temperature to the lowest heat setting, put in your apples.  Some websites say to close the oven door, some say to leave it slightly open and blow a fan into the oven.  The fan method is said to dry the apples in 2-3 hours and the closed door method is said to take 10-20 hours.  Seems like a big difference, not sure what to believe.  But either way, it is nice to know you don't have to invest in a dehydrator if you don't want to!

If you are a dehydrating veteran and have anything you can teach us, or have a tip or a correction, please leave a comment, email or talk to us at the farm!  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Granny Smith and Pink Lady are ready to pick!

Granny Smith are a favorite for those who like tart apples!  People love them for pies, salads and are great for dipping in caramel.  They are a pretty good keeper too for those who store them.

Pink Lady has a tart-sweet flavor and crisp, firm flesh..  Pink Lady are the latest ripening apple we grow!  I think it is one of the most pretty with the almost hot pink coloring.  It is the best keeper out of all the winter apples we grow.  Pink Lady are great for eating, salads and baking.  Definitely check these out!

(Sorry for the photos, I didn't get a chance to take any pictures since we were planting blueberries!)

Other Apple Update:
We still have lots of everything left!! 
Still lots of Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Melrose, Golden Delicious, Gold Rush and also some Red Delicious in the older section of the orchard.  

We are guessing we will be open up to around Thanksgiving so you have plenty of time to still come out.

Farm Happenings:
We planted our 2 acre blueberry field yesterday and it didn't even rain on us until the last 1/2 hour!!  We had a grass field that we have slowly converted to blueberries over the past 5 years.  This planting is the last one and the field is finally fully converted!!  Kind of exciting for us to reach that goal.

Here we are loading up the boxes of blueberry plants to take to the field.

 We have a long piece of PVC pipe that marks the distance between where each plant needs to go.  We just keep pulling the pipe down the whole row until the whole row is dug.

 Getting ready to lay the plants out.

 Whoops, not suppose to dump the box over!  All was ok though.  Only thing lost was a bit of time.

 We lay the plants by the holes, then we come back and plant them.  We had plenty of help so the whole process went fast.

 Then have to pick up all the plant sleeves.

 All finished!  
Since each section of the field is the same variety but planted different years, we name each section in the order of where it appears in the United States..  This last field was named "Liberty Virginia," in honor of my brother's wife.  She was born and raised there!  Our other fields are Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota...... and now Virginia.  Everyone that drives by asks, "What kind of variety is Liberty Oregon?."  hehe.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Goldrush and Rome are now ready to pick.

Goldrush apples are a great apple for baking and fresh eating, but they are also known to be great for juice and one of the best ones for drying. 

A little more tart than sweet apple...but when I say tart don't think Granny Smith.  Think more of sweet but with a kick.
Also if you store apples, you want this one!  They will last a long time in storage, plus the apple gets even sweeter in storage but stays firm.  This apple for some reason doesn't turn brown as fast as other apples either so it is great for salads.

Grandpa and I were talking and he was wondering if you could use the juice of this apple, like you can lemon juice?  Sprinkle the the Goldrush juice on other apples, and maybe it would help the other apples not turn brown....totally hypothetical but something we'd like to try!

The Romes are a beautiful red apple!
Great for cooking, as they hold their shape, and the flavor also develops as it cooks.  If you want an apple to bake whole, this is the one.  
It is an ok eating apple with a mildly sweet flavor and it has a bit of a thicker skin.   They are a decent storing apple.

Still available:  Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Melrose, and Red Delicious (I was wrong about them being gone.  We have some in the older tree section).  There are a small amount of Ruby Jon left.  Enough for a few buckets.

The Granny Smith apples will soon be next, and the last but not least is Pink Lady.  Love those!  Just a note, Pink Lady looks ripe on the tree but they are still pretty sour.  Wait until the end of October and they will be sweeter. 

Really feeling thankful for this apple season.  The apple quality is just great this year and the weather really couldn't be better!  Plus I am really enjoying seeing all our wagons being used to haul apples and little kids.  Just looks so much fun to be a kid again.

I would REALLY, REALLY love to see what you all are creating with these apples when you get home.  Whether it's 50 jars of applesauce, pies, caramel apples or german apple pancakes,  please send pictures to and I would love to post your creations on the blog.  

Oh almost forgot!  My family and I went up to the Apple Tasting at Portland Nursery this past weekend.  They have it all next weekend too (Oct 19, 20,21st).  The apple tasting is free(50 varieties to try) and there is tons of other things to do to, including for the kids!  They could paint pumpkins, make apple cupcakes, a scavenger hunt and a scarecrow voting contest.  Plus they had apple desserts for sale, plants galore and you could buy a lot of the apples that you taste tested.  We had a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it.  The tasting is held at the Stark St location. 

Here are some pictures to give you an idea!

 The apple that was contributed from our farm!

Go check it out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Braeburn and Fuji are ready!

Braeburn and Fuji are ready now!  
These both are a favorite of many and are great all-around apples!  They also both store well if kept refrigerated.
Braeburn is a firm apple that is great for eating out of hand (very crisp), and great for pies and baking.  They are also good for applesauce and salads.

Fuji (below) is great for eating and applesauce.  Also good for pies, baking, etc.  A very sweet apple.

 Other apples:  Lots of Jonagold and Golden Delicious still available.  
Some Ruby Jon and Melrose left....just walk to the south 1/4 of the row and there is lots down there.
Honeycrisp, Red Delicious and Gala are now done.

We also have some butternut squash for sale.  Just picked.  $4.00 each. (Ripe to eat now)

 And some Sweet Meat Squash!  ($4.00 each) Yum!  (Let sit for a month, then eat it....that means Thanksgiving!!!)

We also have some medium pumpkins for sale.  A steal of a deal at $3.00 each!

So I have been meaning to tell you all about this:  An apple peeler/corer.  This is a staple in my  house.  It makes preparing apples very easy.  I grew up with my mom having one so when I started my own household, I had to get one.  I found mine off the internet.  I had previously bought one with a suction cup on the bottom and didn't like it at all.  I recommend the clamp kind if you have a spot to put it.

 Then you pull off the apple and the core separates from it.

Anyone else doing any canning?

 And a few pictures of some apple orchard fun!