The month of October is prime U-Pick’em season at Oak Glen’s six apple orchards.
Along the five-mile loop of San Bernardino’s mountain community, unique farms from Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho to Willowbrook Apple Farm are ready to share the Glen’s 70 varieties of apples.
“Oak Glen is really known for a lot of its heirloom apples. We have a lot of varieties you’re not going to get in the stores,” says Devon Riley, president of Oak Glen Growers Association. “Like Winesaps, Portlands, Northern Spies, Arkansas Blacks, even Jonathan and Macintosh are hard to find in the stores.”
Los Rios Rancho
As for apple picking secrets – it’s simple.
“First off you have to wait until it’s ripe. Second – pick it correctly. You don’t tug on it. You lift and twist. The third thing is really storing it well. So if you store it cold, that’s the best way to keep it,” Riley explains.
Apple cider, apple pie, caramel apples and apple butter are Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho’s most popular apple products.
Five hundred apple pies are sold daily in October at Los Rios Rancho.
“We’re prepping all week long,” Riley says. “We have a peeling machine that peels two apples at a time. It also slices it for us. We literally do that with two ladies. My wife is here at 4 in the morning loading the ovens. She gets her first 60 pies out before 7 a.m.”
Willowbrook Apple Farm
Willowbrook Apple Farm is one of the smaller, but equally popular farms along the five-mile loop.
Trees on the property were planted in 1910 and give the effect of “walking through living history when you walk through the farm,” says Cheryl Swanson, owner of Willowbrook Apple Farm.
Swanson’s 240-square-foot farm grows Stayman Winesap apples, drawing a vast following of East Coast transplants. Visitors can pick the Winesaps and do some U-Press where they can make either a gallon or half-gallon size of apple cider.
The orchards at Oak Glen are only a little over an hour from the Greater Palm Springs area, but Serendipity Ranch Bed and Breakfast makes an overnight stay rather tempting.
Off the main road visitors will encounter a large, charming home with views of the grounds’ large koi pond with sweeping trees and enough scenery to make you think you’re in New England. Nina and Bill Foster have owned the home 11 years and are now in their fifth apple season as bed and breakfast owners.
Guests are welcome to roam the grounds’ stables and socialize with the Foster’s collection of animals. Young children are even able to walk one of the Foster’s miniature horses or visit with Truffles, a beautiful chocolate llama who was bottle fed in the home.
A homemade breakfast is served every morning and guests can expect the incorporation of homegrown apples and vegetables from the adjacent garden. On your way out, stop by their gift shop for homemade soap and quality, knitted items from the Fosters’ daughter.
Oak Tree Village
After apple picking, be sure to stop by Oak Tree Village for an animal park with petting zoo, pig races, live entertainment, train rides, year round shopping, holiday events and trout fishing.
For the ride home pick up a dozen donuts from Andy’s Mini Donuts and Dog House at the Village. Batter is made fresh daily and your donut toppings include hot apple pie, pumpkin spice, caramel apple, Granny Smith apple, Red Delicious apple, plain sugar and cinnamon and sugar.
Oak Glen, www.oakglen.net