Apples in January? Yes, if you hurry

Los Rios Rancho apple picThis past weekend was a beautiful, sunny one with the temperatures ranging in the mid 70s. Yes, this is January in Southern California. Plus it was a holiday weekend! My husband and I decided it was the perfect time to go check out the Wildlands Conservancy hiking trails at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen. If you’re not familiar with the Inland Empire area, Oak Glen is a small community located a few miles past Yucaipa in the San Bernardino mountains and its best known for its apples. Oak Glen is my apple mecca. Each fall I make at least one trip up there to purchase apples, fresh pressed apple cider, and sample the abundance of apple-flavored goodies. Apple nirvana.

I knew apple season was winding down so I was curious to see what varieties were available.  I envisioned a few bags of bruised and browned leftovers but that was not the case.  We visited Parrish Ranch and Los Rios Rancho late in the afternoon and both locations had a small offering of their late season apples.  I sampled the Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, Stayman Winesap, and Starkey Delicious at Rileys at Los Rios before buying a bag of each to make apple butter.  I find that a mix of different apples (both sweet and tart) makes a better butter.  Can’t wait to see how this new batch will turn out!

According to the Los Rios Rancho website, apple season extends from August to November.  The peak is in late September when a more extensive selection of varieties is available.  However, if you still have a craving for some crisp, locally grown apples hurry on up to Oak Glen to grab some late-season pickings.

Have you ever been to Oak Glen during the height of apple season?  Where is your favorite orchard?

Here’s a picture of the Apple Butter I made with the fall apples – Gravenstein, Spartans and Jonathans.  Yum!

Apple Butter

Apple Butter

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