It’s Labor Day, and that the official kick off for Apple Season!!
Located about an hour and a half from Orange County is Oak Glen, a small community of orchards which grows apples, as well as berries and pumpkin. It was our first time going to Oak Glen, so before leaving Orange County, Stephen and I “studied” the map of the Oak Glen orchard loop, and read the various yelp reviews to see which orchards to hit.
We left Orange County roughly 7:45 am, made a stop at Starbucks, and made Snow-Line Orchard (#14) our first destination because they sold the famous and very popular Apple Cider mini donuts. We arrived at 9:15 am, and found a parking spot under a shady tree. There was no one in line when we ordered our piping hot donuts (we got a 1/2 dozen) and ate them (along with our Starbucks) in the picnic area that was adjacent to the parking lot.
We walked around the grounds and watched them press their apples for cider, took photos of their apple trees, before heading to our next destination.
Our next stop was Los Rios Ranch, located literally next door to Snow-Line. This place had bagged apples, plenty of sweets from caramel and candy apples, jams, honey to sauces. They also sold their own cider, but it wasn’t as sweet or refreshing as Snow-Line. In addition, they had a press your own cider, bakery, BBQ, and a petting zoo.
We left with just a bag of Macintosh apples, and made our way to Moms Country Orchard (#34 on the map). It was highly rated on yelp, with consistent 4 and 5 star reviews. It is a tiny little building, and you can miss it if you don’t pay attention. The parking is small, although they do have a dirt lot next to the parking lot.
As soon as you walk in, you are warmly greeted by one of the ladies. I was offered an apple sample, and before I could finish it, she offered me a peach sample. I wandered though the small store and spied jars and jars of their items, from honey to mustard to preserves… and Kelly was handing out generous samples of the honey.
She explained that the Sage honey was going to be in demand next season due to the fires, and let us taste the Sage Desert and Sage Mountain honey. We liked it so much, Stephen picked up the Sage Desert honey.
Kelly demonstrated how to make a “cheater” lemon meringue using graham cracker, lemon preserves and whipped cream. It really did taste like the lemon pie!
We could see why it was so highly rated on Yelp. The staff was so friendly, you didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately, we spent so much time there, when we decided to break for lunch, we also ran into all the tourists.
We went to Apple Annie’s (#6 on the map) for lunch, primarily to pick up the “mile high” apple pie they were known for. It wasn’t easy finding a parking spot. In fact, I created a spot in the lot located next door to the shopping area. We arrived at 11:45, and the line to Apple Annie’s was about 10 minutes long. Had we arrived at noon, the line would have swelled over 1/2 hour. Stephen had the chicken fried steak, while I had the roast beef open faced. I thought my food was just ok (mashed potatoes were dehydrated flakes) and our lunch came to $30 before tip. The mile high apple pie to go was $16 and change, and it did feel like they put 5 pounds of apples inside!
Our final stop was the Riley’s Farm, which is #21 and is located at the end (or beginning) of the scenic “loop”. I didn’t read the yelp reviews prior to coming, and perhaps I should. Apparently the owner is a homophobic racist. Aside from his conservative beliefs, the place was not organized, and it was overpriced.
Since it was literally the last orchard on our route, we decided to just go ahead and pick some apples (just to say we did). The apples were $3.50 a pound and we were limited to just the Gala apples. The apples were pricey, but aside from the cost, they were puny. The so called good ones were picked earlier (hence, early bird gets the worm) but the decent ones were at the top of the tree. The orchard provided no ladders, tools or help of any kind, and of course for safety, you can’t climb the trees. Our little bag of apples cost us over $10… but Stephen justified it as being part of “the experience”.
Overall, we had a great time. I would go back, maybe late October when its cooler.
- Arrive early.
- Plan ahead if you can.
- Bring a cooler if you plan on taking home cider or fresh items like local eggs.