It’s apple season, so it was time to visit what I consider to be the crown jewel of Oregon fruit country: Hood River. This little town about an hour east of Portland produces loads of high-quality crops ranging from cherries, plums, pears, apples and more. My sister tipped us off to the only organic apple grower in the area, which made for the perfect fall day trip.
Mount Hood Organic Farms had bins and bins of freshly picked apples, and even pears, for us to load up on. Their prices were some of the best I’ve seen, but there was a lot more to see than fruit.
The vista of Mount Hood surrounding the farm was jaw-dropping. It was the perfect place to see that gorgeous mix of native fall color – tans, golds and burnt oranges. It sounds like this is a wedding venue as well – Jay and I remarked that it’s too bad we’re already hitched.
The barn structure is just unbelievable. I saw all kinds of Pakistan and Indian-inspired patterns in the woodwork that Farmer John was building by hand. It seemed like every corner had some new, unexpected surprise for those of us design-lovers.
But back to the apples… We had an informal tasting tour from one of the helpful staff of the dozens of varieties they sell – from the sweet to the tart. We bagged up some lesser known varieties for fresh eating. Ambrosia has a crisp, sweet and almost perfume-like flavor. But the Mutsu was my favorite – a bit more tart, but with almost a honey-like hint.
They had deals on “seconds” Jonagold, which means they might be shaped funny or have a small blemish. These are the best for pies and canning. They are thick, juicy and somewhat tart. You won’t ruin the flavor by cooking them, which you would do with a more delicately flavored apple like the ones I mentioned above. And that hint of tartness gives you a strong “apple” flavor when it gets cooked.
We lingered on the farm for a casual picnic with family after loading up the car. I’m not facing some late nights over the next couple weeks as I can up applesauce and pack freezer bags for pies. I can’t wait to make a visit to this farm an annual tradition.