Always good to learn from the experts - tour an orchard
We are fortunate enough to live across the road from an apple orchard. That made it easy for the the group to go and see how the experts raise and prepare their apples.
Some of the key points they learned:
To get big apples like you see in the store, the trees need to be pruned and the number of apples in each cluster need to be thinned to 4 or 5.
The orchard raises 20 different types of apples and they mature at different times. On Saturday, Sept 5, they were picking their first apples but some apples won't be ready until mid-late October.
You can't tell if an apple is mature by looking at the color, you need to look at the seed color.
The apples are cleaned with brushes and sized by a machine which does not use water to wash them.
The apples often need to be sprayed two or three times a season to keep insects off them and prevent some diseases.
Some of the students were from Ballard and were surprised to find out that some of the apples served for lunch at Ballard are from this orchard (located between Slater and Madrid).
Less than perfect apples can be used for making cider and the best cider is made my mixing multiple types of apples.