Friday, September 21, 2018

Oak Glen Apple Farms - Part 1

It's the weekend! This year we're not going to get the chance to fly to Michigan to visit the apple orchards there. Theresa was still really wanting to go and the kids have been getting really excited about picking apples so Theresa found a place relatively close by and made it happen!
Welcome to Oak Glen! Just a 2 hour drive from our house, this mountain community had its first apple orchards planted all the way back in 1867. Now home to over 30 different orchards, this 5 mile loop is affectionately known as Apple Country.

After Ian got out of school, everyone piled in the car and headed for the hotel T booked. We're making it a 2 day event, staying the night in between so we can get an early start in the morning. After checking in and getting up to our rooms, Ian was very happy to find a quarter (remember this one, it'll come back later).

Time to head to our first orchard!
Snow-Line Orchard has been in production since 1898.

I was really happy to come on a Friday. It's not crowded at all!

One of the main reasons we came here was to try their apple samples. After having our own apple taste test in Napa a few weeks ago, we were excited to compare 9 different types of apples and figure out our favorites. One downside to not being super busy though is that not everything was being manned. There were a few apple slices here, but nothing really fresh. Still, we can check off a few new types of apples from the list of ones we've tried.

Along with all the apples, there are plenty of other things to sample. I just love balsamic vinegar, and was more than happy to taste a bunch of different flavors. Even with all the different kinds available, my favorite is still plain dark balsamic. In a surprising 2nd place, I thought the fig balsamic was good too. Not too sweet and not too overpowering flavor.

Richard thought the dark chocolate balsamic was good too.

So many different kinds of olive oil. The only ones of note were the two spicy ones, and after tasting these two, my eyes were watering just a little.

Good thing Ian was there to offer me a sample of apple cider.

Another reason for coming to Snow-Line is their fresh mini donuts. They come out of the fryer hot and fresh and are coated in cinnamon-sugar.

And one of the best ways to have cider is in a slushie.

The kids devoured the donuts, and after chowing through the first dozen, I had to get a 2nd.

Unfortunately there wasn't any U-Pick going on right now at Snow-Line, so instead we wandered through the nearby orchards. In one of the kids' books it speaks about the "apple perfume" coming from an orchard. There was an amazing fragrance wafting from the trees and it smelled fantastic.

When I ask the kids to smile for a photo, half the time I get crazy goofy smiles. When that doesn't work, I'll ask the kids to laugh for me and cross my fingers that it'll get a normal one from that. It doesn't always work out either.

The Los Rios Rancho was our next stop. It's a family farm that has been in operation since 1906.

It's starting to get late in the day, right around 4:50pm, and the apple samples had just been put away for the day.

Good thing there's plenty of other samples to be had. Theresa sure does love apple butter.

Sample overload! Dozens of different jellies, butters, sauces.

The kids were looking longingly at the penny-press machine and wishing their Gram was here. The pennies here was even more expensive than Disneyland, costing $1 + 1 cent.

At each orchard, we got a little something. Here the kids are getting some candy sticks (blue for Ian and pink for Alli).

I have never pressed my own cider. Looks like a fun experience to me!
Gallons of cider in the regular store costs right around $15 per gallon. Here you can press your own and pay either $20 for a plastic jug or $25 for a glass jug, making it ~$5-10 for the experience. Not a bad deal I say.

First, you pick your apples. There's boxes and boxes of different varieties.

Picking the perfect apples to make our cider.

It takes a full 5 gallon bucket to make a single gallon of cider. Both kids wanted to "help" carry the bucket. Grandpa said it felt just a little heavier with their help.

Next, we've got to wash the dirt off all those apples.

Get your hands in there and get those apples clean.

Time to load the hopper. We'll grind these apples to a pulp first.

Ian doing his best to spin the wheel.

The key is to keep the wheel spinning at high speed so the apples just get pulverized when they get dropped in.

Next, the bucket of mash is scooted forward and placed underneath the press. Everyone helped turn the press and watched the juice get squeezed out.

Running it through a filter and straight into a glass jug. After overfilling it to get rid of the foam, the jugs were dunked in the water tubs to get rid of the stickiness.

Success! A gallon of our own fresh juice!

The kids were eager to sample it.

Delicious! Like a fresh picked apple.

One more stop before going back to the hotel for the night. Oak Tree Village has two tasty offerings.

The first is the Village Candy Kitchen.

Sprinkles on a caramel/chocolate apple? I know what the kids are getting.

Those are my kind of lollipops. Cheese on a stick and Sausage on a stick.

In the end, I opted for a Apple Cider float (delicious!), T got some peanut butter and chocolate fudge (also delicious), and the kids decided on the aforementioned apple.

Good sharing.

The bakery at Apple Annies was closed, but luckily you could still order things from the restaurant. We'd heard someone else raving about the apple empanadas here, and they were already on T's radar, so of course we picked one up. T had no idea they'd be so huge!

It was a delicious dessert to finish our dinner. Great crust and a yummy apple filling.

For the past 3 weeks, the kids' favorite bedtime book has been about apple picking. Theresa surprised them with a new book to read tonight about picking apples and making apple pie.

One of the reasons they love the book so much is because it tells them about all sorts of different apple varieties. Alli can't read yet, but she can tell you the name of any apple on that page.

Tomorrow is going to be great! Back to the orchards for more fun!

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