Friday, September 25, 2009

Apple Abundance

October is Nearly upon us and that surely means an abundance of apples. Apple varieties like Gala started popping up at the markets in mid to late august and more and more varieties have become available as the weeks have gone by. One of my favorites the Honey Crisp started showing up a few weeks ago right along side the Asian pears. Don't let all this deliciousness pass you buy. Shop the markets or make a day of it and plan a day trip to one of the areas pick your own apple orchards. Look for apples that feel firm and heavy for their size with a rich color.
Today at the market I discovered a new variety of apple that Thistledown was carrying. It's called Piney River Gold and was created and grown by Saunders Brothers Orchard in Nelson county Virginia. Click the link above to check out the chart of all the peach and apple varieties they grow. It's interesting information, but I believe they only supply wholesale and do not allow u-pick. However, they do sell their own apples at their on site market.
Here are links to a few local apple picking sites

Graves Mountain

Carters Mountain (one of the closer orchards Carters Apple Harvest Festival is held over the next two weekends Oct 3,4 and Oct 10, 11. This by no means indicates their apple picking season.)

Dickie Brothers

If you are at all interested in apples you should check out the Vintage Virgina Apple Farm. They specialize in preserving vintage varieties of apples for the Virginia area and have their own large festival on November 7. Here you can taste fun old varieties like the Abemarle pippin. They grow over 200 varieties of apples and offer a range of educational programs from to aid those interested in growing their own apple trees or preserving older trees to making apple products like cider.
Check out these apple recipes Natalie offered up after last years apple picking excursion.
Here is our post from last years apple picking at Carter Mountain.

Here is my Apple Crisp recipe from last year. It is so very easy. If you used it last year you may notice a couple of changes. First I made a point of saying that the apple mixture should be slightly tart. Also, this year I have been adding a 1/4 tsp ginger to the apple mixture, and 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts to the topping.

In searching for more information about National Apple Month (It's actually a three month long industry designated period comprising September, October, and November stretched from the original 1904 designation of a national apple week.)I found this interesting website
called Months of Edible Celebrations. Apparently today, September 26, is Johnny Appleseed Day. The day is set to mark the birth of Johnny Appleseed, although I don't think anyone actually knows when he was born. None-the-less, the Months of Edible Celebrations blog did a great job of putting together a chart of different apple varieties. Each variety listed has a corresponding recipe to match it's best culinary use. Very nice.


  1. We love Carter Mountain, it's great for families with little kids. We've been once already and plan at least one more trip.

  2. Who is selling pears at the markets? I haven't seen any at Bryan Park and would love some?

  3. Jennifer,

    I am not sure what kind of pear you have been looking for. In early september I was able to get some super delicious pears only referred to as "Country Pears" from one of my very favorite venders 'Bill's Produce.' Sadly they no longer have these. For the last few weeks to a month I have been getting Asian pears from Agri-berry at the Wednesday Lakeside Market. If you don't know about Agri-berry they are probably your best bet and If the Bryan Park market is near you then hopefully the wednesday Lakeside market will work out well for you. I visited Agri-berry today at the St. Stevens Market and they had Asian Pears, 3 varieties of apples, plenty of rassberries, homemade cider and more. There produce is great and Ann, the owner, is very knowledgeable. I have also been able to get Asian pears through Thistledown at the Saturday South of the James Market or the William Byrd House Market on Tuesdays. I hopefully in a couple of weeks we may start seeing more traditional european type pears, however I believe these have always been scarce in the area and a search on-line yeilded little but one orchard with some unnamed pears in Orchard Gap Virgina. Additionally there was this quote from the Virginia Tech Website "Pear production has declined in Virginia over the past century, with a combined assault by fire blight and pear psylla. Most production in the mid-Atlantic region is now in Pennsylvania, with scattered orchards in other states. There are a few new plantings of Asian pears to complement the predominant European varieties of Pyrus communis." Thanks for the comment Jennifer and I'll see what elese I can find out.