Ode To The Orchard – Delicious Ontario Apples

Ontario Apples

Apples are so versatile! You can enjoy them as crunchy crudités, or cover them in caramel, or lovingly load them into pies and other baked goods. Even if we don’t always eat them prepared in the healthiest fashion, they always taste so good. With the number of different varieties grown – and available – right here in southern Ontario, it’s easy to pick some up right from the orchard and bring them home to enjoy however you wish. In fact, going apple-picking makes for a picturesque and healthy outing the whole family can enjoy.

Finding Forbidden Fruit

Apples are indeed an ancient fruit.  They’ve been growing since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years.  The ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Egyptians were some of the early cultivators – likely knowing that an apple a day was good for something.

Did you know that during the California Gold Rush apples were a hot commodity? They sometimes fetched more than $100 a bushel because they were versatile, durable and easily dried and preserved.

Home Grown

Here in Ontario, we’re lucky to have close to 20 different homegrown varieties to choose from.  Apples are grown on nearly 16,000 acres of precious land in major apple producing areas ranging from the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.  Our Great Lakes are prime growing areas because they help moderate the temperature, so it’s true that “Good Things Grow in Ontario”.  The top five types grown here are Empire, Gala, McIntosh, Northern Spy, and Red Delicious.

Don’t forget that, in addition to including them in apple strudel, apple muffins, or apple crisp, they are delicious in salads and sandwiches too (especially grilled cheese). Two classic desserts are homemade apple pie (sometimes accompanied by a slice of old cheddar cheese), and apple pudding – served with warm brown sugar sauce – definitely the easiest to make of the two, and equally as tasty.  This fall, a Sunday dinner complete with an apple-inspired finale is definitely
in order.

Which of these globes of goodness are great for baking, and when are they available? Find out below:

Empire Apples 
(available October to July)
are slightly tart, juicy, firm and crisp.  They’re perfect for snacks and making applesauce.


Gala Apples 
(available early September to February)
are best eaten fresh, perhaps even topped with peanut butter or dipped in caramel.


McIntosh Apples 
(available mid September to May) have a white, juicy flesh, are mildly tart but sweeten as they ripen.  Use them in sauces, pies or eating fresh after a day of apple picking.


Northern Spy Apples 
(available October to May)
are large, crisp and firm.  They’re perfect for pies and old-fashioned baked apples just like Grandma used to make.


Red Delicious Apples 
(available October to July)
are firm, sweet and juicy.  Perfect for salads.  They’re not recommended for cooking.


Where to buy and pick your own apples

Andrews Scenic Acres, Milton

Myers Family Orchard, Copetown

Chudleigh’s Farm, Milton

Stonehaven Farms, Milton

Willis Family Fruit Farm, Milton

Hutchinson Farm, Burlington

Frootogo Orchards, Waterdown

Springridge Farm, Milton


by Becky Dumais




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