With night temperatures dropping to the mid-40s, apples on the trees are sweetening by the day. Its my favorite time of the year.
More than a few decades ago, neighboring Montezuma County used to be known as an apple-growing center that provided fruit to grocery stores nationwide. That was before Washington State landed the reputation for growing the market share of Americas favorite fruit.
Locals still treasure the apples that grow in our ideal climate. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, look for about 400 people to converge on the Yellow Jacket Southwest Colorado Research Station Orchards, where they can pick 40 varieties of apples for 60 cents a pound. The event is dubbed The Annual U-Pick, a popular Montezuma/Dolores County Extension Office joint project.
Leave the dogs and ladders at home. Bring your own boxes or baskets. A limited number of pole picking baskets will be available for pickers on a first-come, first-served basis.
There also will be a limited numbers of peaches, pears and plums, too, but its the apples that are most prolific.
The orchards are about 18 miles north of Cortez. From U.S. Highway 160, take Colorado Highway 491 to Road Z and turn left, or west. The research station is the first place on the left, after you cross Road 17. For more information, call Tom Hooten at 565-3123, but dont call him when youre lost on Saturday morning. Chances are he wont be at his desk.
Enjoy the fresh fruit. When you are ready to really hurt yourself with some added calories, look to the Durango Heralds website for recipes such as Apple-Cheddar Puffs and Chocolate Peanut Butter Covered Apples featured on the online food page. Or share the bounty with friends by canning a Christmas gift theyll love Abby Boyds Apple Pie in a Jar, a recipe featured on Aug. 17 in the feature article Preserving the Bounty La Plata County Fair, also available online.
Finally, when the frost is on the pumpkins, its the time of year when Durango restaurants show their appreciation to locals with shoulder-season discounted dining specials. Chefs and restaurant managers, tell me if youll be enticing diners in the weeks ahead, so I can share the good news with Dishing it Out readers. Email me at email@example.com.
Karen Brucoli Anesi