Sunshine filled days that turn into cool night signifies one thing in this part of Ontario, fall. Along with the nuanced change of the leaves to faded colours of their summer glory, apple season starts. At first it’s the Macintosh and early apples, but then the fun begins. Paula Red, HoneyCrisp and Royal Gala being to ripen.
Prince Edward County is known for being apple country. Most obviously stated by the totem, The Big Apple, right at the boundaries of Quinte West and the County. Off the 401, this tourist attraction is only the beginning of the apple trail. It isn’t until you start driving down the county roads, past the yellowed corn stalks and bales of hay that you start seeing signs, APPLES! Farms that have been quiet and reserved all summer open up as if to say, come and get them!! Pies are being baked, corn mazes being created and apple picking becomes a weekly outing for a local family.
Having tasted the local PEC county pies, one of our family’s favourite times is when the HoneyCrisp are ready. We watch with bated breath as September days pass quickly by knowing by the end of the month, the large, delicious sweet apples will be ready.
Until now, we tucked our brood into the mini van at least once a season and drove from suburbia to line up with the rest of the GTA at the handful of apple farms just north of us. Fighting the crowds for just a few of those delicious treats we sweated and waited for our turn on the wagon ride, watched as our kids waited in line to play on the playgrounds. But this year, all that has changed. Here, in Prince Edward County, apples are in abundance and a quick jaunt down our county road showcases a few farms celebrating the fall harvest. Really, we could visit a different farm every few days and buy as many apples as we can eat.
This past weekend, my sister’s family and our family braved the rain and drove around the County. After a delicious lunch at William’s Family Diner in Picton, we made a pit stop at Campbell’s Orchards to pick up a bag of glorious looking Macintosh apples. Our project, homemade applesauce. A reminder of our childhoods where every fall our Grandmother and then our Mother would core, cook, mush and stir a delicious concoction called, warm off the stove applesauce. Add a bit of Black River Honey Cheddar and you have a feast for a king. What a great tribute to family and country life, and something I’ll be doing as long as I have apples nearby.
As I sat outside this morning during one of the last glorious fall days, I looked down at my morning snack. Apples and cinnamon, coffee on the side with a smattering of almonds. Healthy, local and delicious.
Does it get much better than this? I think the plan this year is to find as many apple orchards as possible and see what we can do in our home kitchen with what we find.