Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apples & Fall

We have amazing produce in our area of California.  A few weeks ago, some friends were visiting and we stopped at a local farmer's market.  One of the friends remarked, "This is overwhelming."  She was correct.  There is just such a variety of incredible produce that it can be overwhelming.  Cheryl and I rarely shop at the farmer's markets because the decisions are so difficult to make.  When 10 different booths are all selling amazing strawberries at the same price, how do you pick?  There are often vegetables that I don't recognize.  Flowers, organic meats, fresh fish, nuts, honey, and amazing fruit...
Stayman Winesap apple

Apples are another thing altogether.  There are a few orchards that grow good apples but most of the apples here are too sweet for my taste and don't have the snap I look for in a good fresh apple.  The season also seems to be compressed for the apples I prefer.  Cider, often made from apples that have fallen to the ground, is illegal to make in Santa Barbara county.   So, the things I yearn for in the fall are difficult to find.

Today, I heard an interview on NPR about apples.  I think I heard the interviewee say that there are some 15000 varieties of apples!  However many there are, Cheryl and I have found an orchard that we like to visit -  Gopher Glen Orchards.  They grow some 50 different varieties of apples including some we know and love from the northeast like Stayman Winesaps.  And, because they are in a different county, they're allowed to make and sell real cider. It is about a 60 mile drive from our house and travel costs make the apples and cider ridiculously expensive... but they are APPLES and it is REAL CIDER and that means fall.

So we bought some cider and some Spitzenberg apples, reportedly Thomas Jefferson's favorite variety... and they are good!

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