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 Nothing tastes better than a fresh-picked mountain apple.

As a child I used to go picking apple picking at Coffee’s Apple Orchard the first weekend in September. There was always a sense of excitement as we loaded in the minivan to make our way to the orchard in the early morning. The sun would still be coming up over the hills and the cool mist rose from the ground blending perfectly with the morning light. I loved climbing trees with my siblings to find the perfect apples that were out of reach any other way. When we tired of climbing, we would search in the grass for good apples, trying to avoid ones that looked rotten or worm infested. We would play on the swingset or wait in the car as mom chatted with the Coffee family and paid for our apples. Once we arrived home we would get to work peeling the apples so mom could make fresh applesauce, apple butter and apple crisp. To this day apple crisp with vanilla ice cream is my favorite fall dessert.

To my surprise there aren’t too many operating public orchards in the High Country anymore. Thanks to our followers for offering a few suggestions. Juanita Farmer suggested Altapass while Leah McManus enthusiastically offered Coffey’s Orchard as a go-to apple spot. 

Here are two of my favorite orchards in the area.

Coffey’s Orchard
This picturesque family orchard has been operating since 1880. The Coffey sisters, now of different last names, grew up on farm and have been running the orchard farm since 1980. The sisters have enjoyed hosting school groups for over 30 years. They tell children the history of the farm and show them the antique apple grater. They offer hay rides and tell the children about how apples grow, their life cycle at the orchard and how they take care of the apples in order to sell them. They have offered corn maze or merrygold mazes in the past. Prices vary but you can usually get a hefty box of apples for around $20.

While you can’t pick there anymore you can buy apples on-site.  They ask that you call ahead or drop by after 2 pm to allow school groups time to go home.

This one is more of a day trip if you live in the High Country but it offers more of an experience if you are looking to make a day of apples and seasonal festivities. Enjoy free live mountain music Wednesday through Sunday (May 1-November 1), hiking trails (open year-round), storytelling hayrides and guided walks, children’s programs, craft demos, butterfly exhibit and garden, heritage apples in season, fudge, country store, breathtaking views, and more!
Of course you can also get delicious mountain apples at the Watauga County Farmer’s Market if you can’t make your way to one of these wonderful destinations.
My mom always made applesauce, apple crisp and apple butter every year. What do you do with your apples? Have a recipe to share? We want to hear from you!

Big thanks for unsplash.com and the following photographers:
Sydney Zentz, Thomas Kelley, Chloe Ridgway, and Liana Mikah.

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