I am ready to shake off the winter doldrums and see something beautiful grow. Washington apples are the best in the world. I have a dozen or so in the fridge at all times, but there is nothing quite like the delicious tree-ripened fruit fresh in season. These juicy little buggers taste best when you go visit them where they came from, in sunny eastern Washington. And even better, meet the people to planted, tended and picked them personally.
Prey’s Fruit Barn - I love Peshastin. I visit Leavenworth just so I have an excuse to go through it to Peshastin. Why? Because there is an adorable little petting zoo with goats that have ramps to walk up and over your head on a bridge from one paddock to another. But this is another post altogether. Peshastin also offers Prey’s Fruit Barn, which is one of my favorite roadside produce stands along the road on Hwy 2. They are open late May through November and offer delicious apples, pears, and variety of other fruits and veggies in season. It was started by an authentic German couple who decided to move to the Wenatchee area in the 1970s, and they’ve been serving our great state ever since. They have an adorable garden and a little shop full of jams, jellies and gift boxes, and of course, boxes and boxes of shiny fresh apples.
Washington Fruit and Produce Co. - Proudly family owned/operated since 1916, selling apples, cherries and pears in all sorts of varieties. They have orchards scattered all over central Washington and even a few fields just across the river into Hood River and the Dalles. This isn’t your average roadside stand to stop and buy a flat of apples though, this mega producer ships their goods all across the state from one of their 6 major loading facilities. Just keep a sharp eye for their name on your produce next time you visit the grocery store, that’s one well-raised apple in your grasp.
Barrett Orchards - Now here is a sweet family farm that wants your tourism business. They offer two things that officially put me in line to come down for a visit: Orchards are open for browsing, a “Cherry Trail” and orchards open to the public for a “leisurely stroll”. In addition to apples, cherries and pears, this farm also raises peaches, nectarines and apricots. I had no idea until last year that Washington can produce peaches that rival any Georgia variety.
Shaw’s Fruit & Produce - Trippin’ to the Coolee Dam? This scenic roadside produce stand has a great view overlooking the Columbia River just 6 miles north of the Dam on Hwy 155. They offer much more than just apples, and press their own cider each season. They even have their own Nut Grove with Hazelnuts, Filberts and Walnuts. Definitely worth a stop in to say hello and see what’s ripe.
Need more options? Ask the experts.
Update… here are some tips about how to pick the best possible fruits of your labor and enjoy your harvesting experience:
- Pick apples from the outer branches, these should look the ripest.
- Lift and twist off the stems, don’t tug.
- Find your nearest orchard at pickyourown.org.
- Pack a good-old-fashioned picnic lunch with sandwiches and dippers. Orchards often offer plenty of apples, cider and pies for sale, but a good lunch might be hard to find.
- Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine, and plenty of toppings for your fresh apples. Try peanut butter, caramel sauce, or cheddar spread.
- Bring a camera!