Apples are available in grocery stores at any time of the year, but have you ever had apples fresh picked from the tree during the height of their season? The taste is so bright and flavorful! The texture is very crisp and juicy. For these seasonal beauties I like to head to Ellijay, GA, which is considered the heart of Georgia’s apple country and is only about a hour and a half trip from Atlanta. Dozens of varieties of apples are available from late summer to early winter. You can find roadside stands, buy direct from the growers, or venture out into the farms to pick-your-own.
On your way to Ellijay, I recommend stopping at Panorama Orchards & Farm Market which is right off highway 515 (63 Talona Spur Rd Ellijay, GA 30536).
This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of time and don’t want get your hands dirty picking your own. The market offers several varieties of apples like Gala, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Rome, Mutsu, Janagold, Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, Stayman Winesap, Fuji and Pick Lady. There are samples available so that you can taste them before choosing your purchase. Panorama makes fresh apple cider, baked apple pies, applesauce bread, apple brandy cake. They make everything from scratch on site, using their own fruit. You can even watch the process through viewing windows located in the kitchen and apple processing areas.
If you’d like to pick your own apples, there are several orchards offering this experience. Check out this guide for locations near Ellijay.
Over the years, my mother-in-law, Michael and I have picked apples at Mercier Orchards which is just past Ellijay ( 8660 Blue Ridge Drive Blue Ridge, GA 30513). Check out these pictures from our most recent trip:
We’ve also ventured out to the Apple Festival in Ellijay which is an arts and craft show featuring hundreds of vendors. This year's festival is October 10th - 11th, October 17th - 18th, 2015.
It’s very likely that you’ll come back from this trip with lots of apples!
It’s important to store them well so that they stay fresh as long as possible. Apples are best stored immediately after picking in the refrigerator inside a crisper drawer. They like a humid environment so lay a slightly dampened paper towel on top of the apples. Separate any apples that have rotten spots or bruises. They will give off ethylene gas which can increase the ripening/rotting of other apples that are stored close-by.
Apples not only taste good, but they are good for your health too.
One medium apple provides:
- 4 grams of fiber which helps you stay full longer, making an apple a great snack!
- soluble fiber which interferes with the absorption of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol lowering overall levels in your bloodstream.
- 14% of the daily requirement of immune boasting vitamin C.
Great news for people with diabetes: Recent research has shown polyphenols in apples can help prevent spikes in blood sugar through a variety of mechanisms.
Looking for ways to add apples to your diet? Try these ideas:
- Apple Recipes from Whole Living
- Best Apple Recipe from Cooking Light
- Healthy Fall Apple Recipe from the Food Network
Or plan to enjoy the apples all year around by using canning methods to preserve their flavor and freshness. This is my mother-in-law's approach. She is very good at canning and makes the best North Georgia apple butter & applesauce I’ve ever had!