The early bird catches the worm … or in the case of visitors to Barrie Hill Farms, apples.
Due to the spring frosts, farms across the province are expecting a smaller apple harvest this season, which is why Barrie Hill Farms owner Morris Gervais says there is no time like the present to jump into the wagon of apples.
“When you see apples available at a local farmer’s market or want to go out and pick your own, try to be timely because it’s not a bumper crop across the province,” Gervais said. “There will always be apples, but you better make sure you get them as soon as you can so you don’t miss them.”
Recent visitors to the Barrie Hill Farm orchard have enjoyed picking some of the early season varieties, including sunrise and zestar apples, which he says are about to finish.
“Now we have McIntosh available and what everyone is expecting, hopefully by this weekend we have some honey crisps to pick,” he said. “This year our Honeycrisp harvest is not that big, that’s how this harvest tends to go.”
The farm produced a big harvest last year, he explained, which means that this year their supply will be a little less. Fortunately, Gervais said the farm also has a good crop of Cortland apples, as well as Ambrosia apples, which he says will be ready by late September or early October.
“People are excited and the early apples are pretty neat, but… everyone thinks of the apple picking season (as being) September and October, so we expect a lot of people to come for these crops,” a- he declared.
Fun family time
Although they have no way of getting an official membership, Barrie Hill Farm typically sees thousands of people going out each season with their families for the chance to pick their own apples – and other fresh apples from the region. closed. produce.
“We have hundreds of families going out every day. It’s very, very weather dependent, but it’s a great family activity for a great fall weekend, ”said Gervais.
“The apple orchard is quite a distance from the main parking lot here at the farm, so when you come in to pick apples it’s a bit of a day of adventure as it takes about a 20-minute wagon ride each way,” he said. he declared. “It’s fun, because you drive through the fall colors and pass the pumpkin patch fields. It’s just a really nice outing and there is a lot you can pick fresh from the farm throughout the fall.
Whitney Campbell-Burke went apple picking at Barrie Hill Farm with her eldest daughter over Labor Day weekend, and said Barrie today they go to pick apples every year.
“My daughter wanted to spend some one-on-one time. It’s a fun activity with the cart ride and all the rides, ”she said, adding that the tradition started several years ago when her best friend was visiting from Newfoundland. “She had never picked apples because it’s not a thing there, so we went to the Meaford area and it has become a tradition ever since.”
The couple came home and quickly put their delicious findings to good use, making homemade applesauce in the slow cooker and setting it aside to make some apple crisps.
She recommends doing your research before you go on an adventure, as different apples have different uses.
“Some are for eating, and others for cooking. Your Cortland and McIntosh are mainly the ones you want to use for cooking, while the harder ones you would save for eating, ”said Campbell-Burke. “You also want to use softer apples as soon as possible because they can go off on you.
While applesauce, apple pies, and apple crisps are some of the more popular items to make after people bring their bushels home, one of Gervais’ favorites is a bit more simple. He said Barrie today he has fond memories of his mother baking apples for him when he was growing up.
“You remove the core from the apple and bake it in the oven with brown sugar or a little maple syrup. Then you add ice cream, ”he said. “I always remember baking apples in the oven when I was a kid.”
Pop go the… popcorn!
For the first time, Barrie Hill Farm will have popcorn available for picking later this month, Gervais noted.
“If you drove near the field, it would look like grain corn (corn for cattle). It has to dry like that, ”he explained.
“It has to mature, then the plant wilts and dies, then you have to wait for it to dry to a moisture content of around 14 or 15 percent,” he said, noting that if it does is too wet, it won’t. t pop. “You can pop it right on the cob! You can put the cob in a paper bag and microwave and it will come straight out of the cob if it is in the appropriate drought.”
After getting home, Gervais suggested removing a few kernels from the cob and putting them in the microwave to see if they burst.
“If they do, then you can do the whole cob,” he said. “We have quite a few but we don’t know what the harvest will look like, but we are happy to try it. We are always on the lookout for something new and exciting for our customers, ”said Gervais.
“I’ve spoken to other farmers in different parts of Canada and abroad who have done this, and it’s a very popular addition to their U-pick farms, so I thought people would like try it out.