A Taste of Apple Season
From Georgia to North Carolina, now is the time to take advantage of crisp apples right from the tree.
Prime apple season in the South runs from about August through December. There are plenty of u-pick orchards that allow apple lovers to snap their own fruit from the tree and take it home to bake or just enjoy by the slice. Chefs also get in on the season, taking advantage of the height of freshness for a number of varieties of apples in all colors.
The Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay wrapped up this past weekend, but The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta is still celebrating, offering a special Apple Festival Menu starting today through October 31. Executive Chef Julio Delgado traveled to Ellijay to select crisp fall apples for his menu at Atlanta Grill.
“Georgia’s plentiful orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains yield more than 20 varieties of apples,” he says. “My mission is to bring the best apples home for our guests to enjoy.”
On Chef Delgado’s menu is a Curried Apple and Butternut Squash Soup, North Georgia Waldorf Salad with Red Delicious apples, Crispy Pork Belly and Granny Smith Apple Cobb Salad, Caramelized Ginger Gold Apple and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese and Sautéed Scallops with Roasted Matsu Apple. The chef keeps his dessert offerings traditional with apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream and Caramelized Apple Spice Cake with Apple Brandy Ice Cream.
When visiting Apple Hill Orchard in Morganton, North Carolina, it’s dessert you’ll want to start with. The orchard’s on-site bakery serves homemade Apple Cider Donuts that may make you forget about picking apples all together. Wash them down with a steaming cup of cider, perfect on a chilly fall day.
The orchard starting making cider in 1994 and now presses several 600-gallon batches each week during the season. Cider slushies are also available, along with gallons or half-gallons to take home. Apple Hill starts harvesting Ginger Gold apples as early as late July, but in October it’s Fuji, Goldrush, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Limbertwig you might be picking.
The Prewitt Family at Apple Hill has been in the business since the 1930s, and it was Harley Prewitt’s great-grandfather who first grew apples on the family farm about 3 miles from the orchard. As the last apple orchard left in the county, Prewitt takes his job seriously and encourages visitors and pickers to take the apples before going home with a bushel.
“We want you to get something you like,” he says. Apple Hill’s donut recipe is a secret, but they do share their recipe for Apple Bread.
For reservations at Atlanta Grill to taste the Apple Festival menu, call 404-221-6550 or visit www.opentable.com. Apple Hill is open Monday through Saturday and offers orchard tours beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Bakery hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays.