When I was in college, a local apple grower brought a truck to campus every Friday with a supply of apples, apple cider, caramel apples, and anything else apple related they thought college students might like. It was the best. I remember the crunch and the juice and the sweetness of the apples that to this day is like putting the essence of fall into your mouth.
Apple growing goes back a century or more in Idaho. Early pioneers found the climate along the Snake and Payette Rivers to be perfectly suited for apples. Julia Davis Park in Boise was once a huge apple orchard, and the Grove Plaza downtown—well, that’s where its name comes from. In fact, those in the know have their favorite apple picking spots in hundred year old trees out in the foothills and gullies. They will give you vague directions like “Go to the top of the hill past the creek and turn left down into the ravine. Park your car and walk about a quarter of a mile further and you’ll find this perfect tree.”
Picking apples is an annual tradition, but if you don’t want to hike into the unknown, take the easier route and go to a currently operated orchard. Before you go picking call and make sure the orchard is open for picking. Sometimes if things aren’t ripe yet, nobody will be around to service you.
Emmett, Idaho is one of Idaho’s apple and fruit growing centers. South Slope Road will lead you to all of them. All you have to do is follow the signs. You’ll find Anderson Apple Ranch, Candy Apple Orchard, Rocky Point Orchard. Also in Emmett on Black Canyon Road, you’ll find Rolling Hills Orchards. If you drive along South Slope Road, pick the orchard that calls out to you and stop there.
Apple Creek Farm in Jerome, Idaho is a certified organic orchard. While their web site is not maintained, you can still call for information. They have several varieties of apples as well as other fruit.
Isom’s Fruit Farm in Blackfoot, Idaho has 2700 trees, with many varieties of apples. Plus they have those carmel apples I remember from long ago. And pies.
Kelly Orchards in Weiser has a huge variety of apples for you to pick. They also sell dried fruit, which is very tasty. One of my favorite snacks.
If picking apples just doesn’t fit into your schedule, try the Capital City Public Market or any of the local farmstands throughout the area.
And if you know of a great place to pick on hundred year old trees, please let me know.
Anyone who adds a comment to this post will be sent my fantastic apple butter recipe.