Apple aficionados are sometimes hard to find. They are not as prevalent as wine snobs, cheese heads or olive connoisseurs.
The latter I find most baffling. No matter how hard I try to like it, I truly believe that the olive was placed on this Earth to do nothing but torment (read: ruin) the taste buds and overwhelm any dish it is incorporated into.
While I was studying in upstate New York, we were able to partake in all sorts of apple activities from apple festivals, to cider house tours, to u-picks throughout October. I remember taking a couple days to tour New York in the fall, and my wife, Andrea, and I came across the Fly Creek Cider Mill outside of Cooperstown. We fell in love with apple cider right there and then. And we couldnt stop drinking it from these cute glasses shaped like, you guessed it, apples.
And as we found out, if you drink too much of this unfiltered and unsweetened juice while driving a Toyota van on windy back roads, your stomach tends to turn into a ball and you have to pull over and lie down on the bed in the back of the vehicle.
Back to the apple aficionados. I would consider myself a fledgling enthusiast my current favorites are Honeycrisp, Scarlet Gala and Cameo. The fanatics are aplenty in upstate New York, and most likely in Washington or Michigan, but around here, they may be a little harder to come by. There is a history of apple orchards in pockets around Southwest Colorado scattered within Montezuma County and our own Hermosa Creek drainage but many of these orchards, and trees, have long been neglected and forgotten. These aging trees may not seem to produce the large, sweet apples commonly seen in grocery stores today, and their types or cultivars are unknown and difficult to determine (there are more than 7,500 known cultivars). But their importance should be noted, as the aging trees are reminders of the diversity of crops that local land and homeowners once had.
If you strive to improve your apple palette, come down to the fourth annual Homegrown Apple Days Festival sponsored by the Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in Buckley Park. We plan on having apple (and apple cider) samples, with more than 15 cultivars from Colorado State Universitys own orchard in Yellow Jacket. We will also have four presses working nonstop in an attempt to juice the 5,000 pounds of apples we gleaned the day before. Much of that juice will make its way to Carver Brewing, where it will be made into a very tasty Insider Ale, whose sales help fund the next years event. There will also be lots of live music, a pie-eating contest, many childrens games and plenty of local food (including the best apple pie).
So come refine your apple taste buds, and leave the olives at home, in the jar where they belong.
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.