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Apple Season: Local Picks

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Our first bit of apple talk was on a more national scope, it seems, and we're ready to bring things closer to home for all you fruit lovers out there. Sure, we have a scant working knowledge of California produce; garlic up in Gilroy, strawberries in Oxnard, and the vineyards full of wine-ready grapes, the avocadoes, figs, artichokes, and varities of citrus fruit up and down this glorious state. Ah, the bounty! But apples tumble out of the California cornucopia, too...

Snow-Line Orchard and their apple crops are part of the Oak Glen enclave of farms and stands open to the public northeast of Los Angeles, home to other facilities like Mr. Law's Apple Stand, Moms Country Orchard, and Riley's Log Cabin Farm (which offers a pick-your-own apples service, much like our own childhood experience up in the Great White North). And speaking of things northern, to the north of us in Camino is the Apple Hill collective of growers, boasting dozens of local growers who produce a number of commercial as well as local apple varieties. For example, the Mother Lode Orchard has Paula Red apples from late July to September, McIintosh and Gala in late August, Golden Delicious in mid-September, Red Delicious, Empire, and Granny Smith in late September, as well as Braeburn, Stayman Winesap, Rome, Fuji, and Liberty in mid October. Over at Abel's Apple Acres you'll find crops of the Arkansas Black, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Red Rome. All of their apples are ideal for eating raw, the Fuji, Granny Smith, Red Rome and Golden Delicious great for cooking and pies, and the Red Delicious not good for cooking or baking with.

The Garden Compass' apple page gives a phenomenal breakdown of highly varietal apples that are grown in the different regions of California. There's the Northern Californian Spitzenburg, Belle de Boskoop, or Honey Crisp; Coastal California's Tompkins King, Cameo, or Mutsu; the Central Valley's Sierra Beauty, Akane, or Sundowner; the Sierra Nevada's Wolf River, Baldwin, or Haralson; and Southern California's Winter Banana, Beverly Hills, or Pettingill, just to name drop a few of the more unusual suspects. Keep your eyes open at your local farmer's market for some of these Californian gems this apple season, along with the more standard varieties that are more readily available. And a big hat tip to reader Rachel, who shook us right out of our apple tree on this one. Still to come this week: Cookin' with apples!

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Photo: Apples on a Tree from Amanda101 on Flickr.