|Just one of 6 Suprima Farm Apple varieties I tasted yesterday!
When I was eighteen, I announced to my parents that I was going to travel to British Columbia, to pick apples in the Okanagan Valley. This made no sense considering that I had grown up in one of the major apple producing areas in the world and had never once picked a bin. I didn’t even know how to strap on the basket, which made it embarassing after telling our first farmer that we were experienced pickers. Apple picking is hard work, but it’s fairly lucrative. It’s gorgeous and cool in an orchard first thing in the morning, and you get to eat apples.
My favourites have always been the Cortland and Gravenstein, two older varieties that are best when freshly twisted off the tree. They are sweet and crispy with the sour bite that I love in an apple. The Valley grows a huge variety of apples, and hot new additions to the lineup just keep coming. This year our local growers harvested the first commercial crop of SweeTango
. After the amazing success of the tasty and expensive HoneyCrisp, I imagine consumers will flock to the store for this newest trend in apples.
Be careful when shopping for apples in the Valley. Shockingly, despite all the wealth of locally grown fruit, apples imported from Chile, the USA and New Zealand are given ample shelf space in most grocery stores. Buy your apples at a market stand and your chances of landing local fruit improve dramatically. Apples are a great value when purchased in 10 or 20 pound bags, but if you can’t stuff them in your fridge, you’ll have to eat them quickly!
Better yet, visit a U-Pick. Boates
even has organic apples in neat old varieties that you can pick yourself. Another favourite of mine is Dempsey Corner Orchards
, where you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Valley as you pick from a tree halfway up the North Mountain. Noggins Corner
has great apples and a wicked Corn Maze (try going after school rather then on the weekend, it’s crazy-busy (insider tip: try the lovely Harvest Acres Corn Maze at VanOostrum Farms to avoid crowds and enjoy a peaceful rural setting).
Here’s a lovely and unusual (and according to our customers, addictive) sandwich to celebrate the apple harvest!
Annette’s Ham, Apple and Cheddar Focaccia serves 4
This open faced sandwich can be made on any decent, sturdy bread but if you have time, make your focaccia from scratch. It’s the simplest bread you’ll ever make and quite possibly the most delicious!
¼ C. Mango or any other Chutney
¼ C. Mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon Mustard
½ lb. Shaved Ham
½ small Red Onion, sliced
2 Sweet and Crispy Apples, sliced (Red Delicious need not apply)
1 C. Grated Cheddar Cheese
Preheat the broiler and move the oven rack to its highest position. Mix the chutney, mayo and mustard. Lightly toast the focaccia and spread with the chutney mayo. Layer with the ham, onion, apples and lastly the cheddar. Place on a baking sheet and slide under the broiler. Watch like a hawk while the cheese melts, then bubbles, and finally browns.