It’s a seasonal joy – visiting local apple orchards and co-ops to get a share in the bounty of the Brushy Mountain Apple Harvest in North Carolina. We go every year at about this point in the season. The temperatures have fallen, the crop is at its sweetest, and we can store the cache in the basement for several weeks with no worries about spoilage. And if a few get soft or develop a spot, we have about a thousand pounds of pony who is happy to relieve us of just such an apple. But who am I kidding, we stopped at the pasture on the way back home to give him and his buddies the first sweet tastes of our loot.

The only problem is choosing which apple house to shop at. There is no shortage of available places to make the purchases we require. And we have been patrons of them all over the years.

The next dilemma is which type of apple to buy – Granny Smith, Limbertwig, Arkansas Black, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Stayman, Fuji, Pink Lady, Red Rome – or this year’s favorite : Blacktwig!

For me – the Blacktwig is the perfect apple. It has everything I love in a bright, crisp apple – juiciness, bite, and an almost wine-like tanin that dries the mouth and makes my teeth feel as though they have just been cleaned.

A pithy or soft apple is not for me. And I would rather chew on a sour one than a mushy sweet one. My family knows this odd tidbit about my eccentric apple snobbery and I believe they actually respect me for it.

But the apple houses offer more than plain – though spectacular – apples. There is a plethora of apple products – dried, cider, pies, jams, jellies, mulling spices.

They even offer more than apples. We love to relieve them of wedges of sharp cheddar cheese cut fresh from a large hoop wheel of the sharpest waxy black label, and maybe a few pounds of thickly sliced country ham, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables they’ve acquired or grown. And in huge baskets, filled to overflowing,are old fashioned candies like cream filled caramels, peanut butter logs, chocolate drops, Red Bird candy sticks, and more!

Here are few of the selections and our favorites for shopping. For more information visit www.applejournal.com/nc.

Brushy Mountain Farm & Orchard

Brushy Mountain Farm & Orchard

Sugarloaf Apple House

Sugarloaf Apple House

Perry Lowe Orchard

Perry Lowe Orchard

Wooden Crafts @ Perry Lowe Orchards

Wooden Crafts @ Perry Lowe Orchards

Bushels of Apples Coming Home

Bushels of Apples Coming Home

Deal Orchards with Mountains in the Background

Deal Orchards with Mountains in the Background

Baskets of Old Fashioned Candies

Baskets of Old Fashioned Candies

Deal Orchards Display

Deal Orchards Display

Whole Country Hams

Whole Country Hams

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