Where? In Wenatchee, Washington. If the region isn’t now the world’s apple capital then it is certainly the apple processing and storage capital of the state.
Though apple orchards dominate, pears and cherries round out the Wenatchee growing area (which follows the Columbia and its tributaries). We caught things at every stage between bare and leafed out.
This gorgeous quilt was at the Wenatchee Apple Center. In previous visit we got to tour one of the packing plants and were astounded at the unending volume of fruit that paraded from truck to clean to sort to bin and off to storage.
An apple for every taste and purpose.
Fire? No, this is one of the stages of prepping orchards for the fruit to come. We saw a variety of sprayers and rigs out being used in the last few weeks as we toured central Washington. We also saw a variety of protective gear being used from none to complete suits and masks.
Honeycrisp, Empire, Golden Delicious, Ambrosia, Spartan, Mitsu, Jonagold, Ida Red, Fuji and Granny Smith – all those apple varieties can be found along the Okanogan River Valley. The array of fruit makes your head spin and mouth water and Fall is the time to enjoy them at their freshest.
Unlike the Wenatchee area, there seem to be a lot more mom and pop orchards.
Perhaps it’s the micro climes but we were surprised to see orchards even high up in the side valleys and canyons away from the Okanogan River.
Those side canyons presented a challenge for water delivery in the early years. The wooden flume in the background is slowly decaying as electricity and drip irrigation allowed for even more acres to be farmed than before.
In a number of orchards we saw these runners made of a foil topped material. This puzzled us at first until doing a little digging. The reflective foil allows for better coloring of Fuji apples – it doesn’t affect maturation or flavor – just marketability.
In the small town of Tonasket, like so many of the villages along the Okanogan Valley, have sorting houses and cold storage, Again, it’s on a smaller scale than we’ve seen in Wenatchee, but, hey, who cares about scale – It’s Pie Time!!!