Nothing says fall like a fresh, crisp apple and the Oakland County Farmers Market expects a spectacular apple season.
Farmer Richard Wolfe from Wolfe Farms in Tipton said there will be plenty of apples available for eating and baking.
Will Bristol, whose family owns Brookwood Fruit Farm in Almont, said spring rains affected some apple varieties, making them a bit less bountiful than previous years. But apple lovers still have plenty of choices.
“We grow 50 different varieties and start picking at the end of July and finish around Halloween,” Bristol said. “There’s nothing better than to go out to the backyard, pick an apple and eat it fresh.”
Customers can experience that same fresh-picked taste. According to Bristol, the apples they bring to the market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are usually picked the day before.
According to the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan is the nation’s third-largest producer of apples. The organization says there are more than 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms throughout the state.
Mollie’s Delicious and Paula Reds have already appeared this season. Ginger Gold, McIntosh and Zestar!® are available from Wolfe and Bristol.
“Both Wolfe Farms and Brookwood Fruit Farm are great farmers,” Market Manager Jeremy Brown said. “They are very knowledgeable and bring a quality product every time they are here.”
As autumn continues, look for Honeycrisp, Gala, Empire, Jonagold, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Red Delicious, Winesap, Rome, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith and more. Bristol said he brings some specialty varieties like Shizuka, Snow and Wolf River to the Farmers Market for just a short time only — sometimes even only a day or two.
“We have eight to 15 varieties at the market at any given time,” Bristol said. “Many are varieties not found in the grocery store.”
Because of this, people often have many questions. The best part about buying apples at a farmers market is the farmer who grows them is often available to answer questions, make suggestions and recommend specific varieties for eating or baking.
“It can be daunting to make a selection with a couple dozen varieties in front of you,” Bristol said.
Wolfe said his wife Cindy is happy to share tips for making comforting autumn dishes, including applesauce, apple crisp and apple pie.
One of her best time-saving tricks is freezing apples to use in pies throughout the year. Wolfe said she peels and slices them, adds dry ingredients like cinnamon, sugar and flour and then freezes them flat in bags so they can be stacked in the freezer. When she’s ready to make a pie, all she needs to do is prepare a crust and fill it with the thawed apples.
She also suggests mixing the variety of apples in a pie to maximize flavor and texture. A good combination is McIntosh, Rome and Northern Spy, Wolfe said.
An additional benefit of shopping at a farmers market is that customers can purchase larger quantities. Wolfe said patrons often ask him to bundle up a half bushel for eating and a half bushel for cooking and he’ll fill their request while they continue to shop.
Apples are generally available at the Oakland County Farmers Market through March.
“Even though they are done harvesting by November, Brookwood Fruit Farm is able to bring fresh apples through early spring thanks to cold storage,” Brown said.
To find out what apple varieties are currently available at the Oakland County Farmers Market, call 248-858-5495. Interested persons can also check out the websites and social media pages of market vendors for specific information.
For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.