apple picking in julian + apple pie crumb bars

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!

12 thoughts on “apple picking in julian + apple pie crumb bars

  1. I’m so sad that apple season was so short this year and so many of the orchards suffered. I was researching it two weeks ago when we thought about going, but we ended up not making the trip. We will need to make a trip soon though for apple pies.

    1. Hi Kirbie – I was surprised to see so many of the orchards suffered this year. We went later in the year last year (mid October). Not sure how much longer that last orchard will be open but hopefully next season it will be better (better start doing some rain dances!).

  2. Maya is always smiling in pictures!!! I don’t know what it is about her but I love it haha.

    I’ve always wanted to go apple picking! I love that they have different types of apples too. And I would definitely add ice cream to that apple crumble 🙂

    1. Hi J.S. – She is a very smily dog haha. She’s super friendly, too, she loves meeting new people! Apple picking is fun but then you think “what am I going to do with all of these apples?!”. Luckily my friend and I share the bag. I wanted to do pears because we have an apple tree in our yard, but at least the Julian apples are a different variety.

  3. I really wanted to go apple picking this year, but we were out of town so many weekends in September that the orchards were closed by the time we were available to go. Sprouts usually has an apple extravaganza with dozens of varieties of apples on sale. I may have to stock up on apples there. Hopefully next year is better for the orchards and we’ll actually get up there in time!

    1. Hi Leanne – I always forget that the apple season really starts in September, not October! I like trying to different varieties of apples, might have to check that out, too, and practice some desserts for Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi Jinxi – I love Julian! Especially in the winter! Sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll see a little bit of snow and it’s a reason to really wear a scarf, haha. Maya should be a model! 😀

    1. Hi CielBelle – Julian is such a fun little town for a getaway. It’s nice to walk around town and grab some apple pie. I prefer bringing my own lunch now since we have had some less than stellar lunches there, but the apple pie is always great! Hope you get to visit sometime!

    1. Hi CC – The season was over too quickly! Usually I’d forget about apple picking, too, but luckily my friend reminded me about it. There’s always next year!

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