Last year Jake, Laura, T and I went pear picking in Julian and this year we’re back to apple picking. I actually wanted to go pear picking again, or to find a farm that had both apples and pears, but sadly apple picking season is very, very short this year. O’Dells, where we went pear picking last year, was already closed for the season along with many other orchards. California’s drought has really hit the orchards hard this year and I know one of the orchards didn’t even open to the public. The drought destroyed many of their crops and there were less apples available for the public. Our first choice of orchard (which was MJ Ranch) had a little “CLOSED” sign at the bottom of the road. We went back to the only orchard we saw open: Volcan Valley Apple Farm.
Volcan Valley Apple Farm is right next to the wineries in Julian. When you go up Julian Orchards Dr., there will be many, many cars and tons of people and it’ll feel way too crowded. DRIVE PAST ALL THAT. There’s a place to turn left further down with a larger dirt area to park in and a quieter entrance to go through so you don’t have to suffer through the madness and think you won’t be able to park. There’s plenty of spaces to park over there! There’s an entrance where you can purchase a bag and the nice lady will tell you what apples are left. Bags are $10 each.
You can walk up and down the rows and on the end of each row it’ll say what kind of apples are in that row. When we went (the last weekend in September) there were Jonathan apples, Golden Delicious apples and Empire apples available. You can eat and try any of the apples to see if they’re to you’re liking before you stick them into your bag.
We would pull a little on the apple and if it came off easily, then we knew it was good for picking. If you had to tug, tug, tug – then that apple wasn’t meant to go home with you.
Roaming around in the orchard was this super friendly dog. I checked her collar and her name was Alice O’Dell, from the nearby O’Dell pear orchard. We remembered seeing her last year!
Alice seemed to take a liking to Maya since Alice kept popping up and following us around. She came up to me a few times and stuck her head right under my hand. She was a sweet girl!
Green golden delicious apples.
We ended up getting all three varieties of apples but my favorite of the bunch was the Empire apples. They were a little shorter and rounder than the Jonathan apples.
Alice is probably the mellowest dog ever.
Here’s Laura and I with our freshly picked apples. Can you tell Jake took this photo? He is so tall.
We went apple picking the weekend after my little toe accident so I was wearing real shoes and having a tough time walking around. I was slower than the rest of our group and we had taken Maya off leash so she could roam around. At one point I was lagging behind in a lane and I could hear Maya running frantically through the orchard (she has double tags on her collar that jingle in a certain way). Maya was looking for me since I had lagged behind! I called out to her but my voice was carrying on the wind and poor thing got confused. Finally she realized where I was and ran back to me and jumped into my arms, funny little girl that she is. We took this photo right after her run through the orchard, hence the doggie “windblown” look!
After picking apples we went over towards the winery and found a picnic bench to sit at. I had made some soba noodles for lunch with grilled chicken and peanut sauce.
Everyone seemed to like it and it was a nice way to end our afternoon up in Julian.
Last week I decided to make Apple Pie Crumb Bars with the apples we picked in Julian. This was sort of a combination of apple pie, with the crumb topping, in bar form. A little easier than apple pie!
I used this recipe from The Comfort of Cooking to make the bars. The only difference is I used pumpkin pie spice for the seasoning instead of just cinnamon and nutmeg. I love the flavor of cloves and the other stuff in pumpkin pie spice. I think I’d use less oatmeal next time though, or pulse and process the oats down a little before using them. The texture of the oats was just “okay”, I thought the pieces were a little too big. But otherwise, it tasted just like apple pie!