Ahhhhhhhhhh yes...it's that time of year where the weather gets a little cooler and signs of harvesting are everywhere...especially with apple orchards. You hafta look long and hard to find pick-your-own apple orchards in Texas in that our soil isn't prime for growing apple trees. Even so...there are a few orchards that found the sweet spot for growing apple trees and are growing some fine apples. One such orchard is the Sonlight Apple Orchard in Mason, TX...just about an hour and a half north of Boerne, TX and about an hour due west of Austin, TX. Makes for a nice family day trip.
So...a couple weeks ago we loaded up our two older girls, my sister, Melody and our dog, Bell and headed up to pick some apples. The trip there was nice...gorgeous country side including a drive-through of the infamous German town of Fredericksburg, TX. Charissa, my oldest, quickly locked in a promise to stop on the way back for some fudge. I'm sure Larry wasn't thrilled about stopping in a touristy town...but complied with her/our wishes.
We got to Sonlight Apple Orchardand were greeted with a collection of antique tractors and a turn-of-the-century stone barn which served as their headquarters for getting the lay of the land and getting buckets. I thought that once we got our buckets and knew which trees held the apples we wanted that we could start picking. I quickly learned that "Johnny Apple Smith" would be there shortly to show us the "art" of picking apples. Wow...didn't know it was an art....but okay...I'd go along.
"Johnny Apple Smith" a.k.a. Don Durflinger came from the back of the orchard with the kindest smile and donned in a Sonlight Orchard embroidered shirt and knee pads over his jeans. He introduced himself as Johnny Apple Smith and asked if we knew anything about apple picking. My sister, who was from Iowa, was able to say that she had been-there-done-that...but the rest of us...this was our virgin-apple-pickin-experience. So...Johnny led us to a tree and showed us the correct way to pick an apple. Little did I know that if you just yank it off the tree you could hinder growth for the following year. No wonder it was required that everyone go through the drill.
Once we got past the lesson it was on to picking apples...Cameo variety, to be exact. I had never heard of that variety...but have to tell you...one of the best eatin apples I have tasted in a long time. Oh my was it sweet and crisp! We were also told it was great for pies and applesauce. I can tell you for a fact that it was great for all three purposes. As soon as we returned home, I made two pies and put up 14 jars of applesauce. No sugar needed for some of the best applesauce I have had in a long time.
I could go on about our experience there...but it might be better for you to experience it yourself. It's a short distance for anyone living in the Hill Country and worth the drive. You will enjoy meeting Don and his wife Sheila and will love walking around the quaint town of Mason. Don and Sheila are happy to keep your apples in their cooler while you tour the town or eat lunch at one of many fine restaurants close by.
Treat yourself to a family day or date and take a drive to Sonlight Apple Orchard. You'll be glad you did!
Pickin and canning apples is just one of the many aspects of living the "rural lifestyle". If you've been thinking of making the move to a small town outside of San Antonio or finding your place in the country...give me a call. I would love to help you!