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September 3, 2008 > Pat Kite's Garden: Apple Hill

Pat Kite's Garden: Apple Hill

By Pat Kite

What's your favorite apple? Expand horizons from "Fuji," and make a "Staycation" to Apple Hill, a fun family destination just an hour from Sacramento in the Sierra foothills. Select from bountiful bins of Winesap, Mutso, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Gravenstein, McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Pippin, Paula Red, Empire, Parkdale Beauty, Honey Crisp, Red Gold, Jona Gold, Rome, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Rome, Arkansas Black and, of course, Fuji.

Are all these apples on a hill, or what? Well, not exactly. Apple Hill is a collection of about 50 family-owned orchards located along mellow forested roads exiting off Highway 50 on a well-marked route. Families come here year after year, as do school groups, tour buses, car clubs, tourists, and senior travel excursions.

What else to see, munch on, or bring home? The best apple fritters I have ever had in my gourmand life are for sale. There's also caramel apples, apple donuts, apple strudel, apple cake, apple crisps, apple cream cheese tarts, apple brownies, apple turnovers, apple cider, apple dumplings, and, of course, with and without sugar apple pies.

If you sojourn now, the traffic is kind, especially during the week. Holiday season brings enthusiastic traffic. There are several Christmas tree farms, pick-your pumpkin sites, and November Harvest weekends that attract guests. Naturally there are several places to have a picnic lunch, indoors or out. You can buy standard hamburger, hot dog and chicken fare at reasonable prices

Shopping is not limited to apples, pears, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, yams, pears, nectarines, and a clever assortment of gourmet organic and non-organic veggies. You can also purchase apple butter, apple wine, apple cider, apple vinegar, pumpkin butter, Habanero pepper jelly, apple parers, jams, gift goodies, recipe books, and oodles of spices to put in your apple concoctions, plus pie dough ready to go, etc. There's a doll shop, handcrafted birdhouses for sale, numerous craft kiosks, wine tasting, and a fudge factory farm. Highly recommended, including children and strollers. Get information on special events, etc. at www.applehill.com and/or (530) 644-7692.

Newark Senior Center offers an Apple Hill trip on Thursday, October 23rd. Apple Hill excursion tends to fill up quickly, but ask at (510) 578-4840. There's also a Newark Senior Center offering of a Pajaro Valley Tour, viewing a tent-showcased 3/4 million square feet of roses on Wednesday, September 24, plus a 165-year old farmhouse. I'll tell you more about this exciting garden adventure when I return.

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