Food & Drink

Get ready for N.C. apples

Remember last fall, when early spring freeze and summer drought stripped fall fruit trees?

This year is looking very different, says Dave Butler, owner of Skytop Orchard near Hendersonville.

Skytop is a popular destination for people heading to the mountains and Butler says this year, they'll have more reasons to stop.

“There wasn't much up here last year,” he said. “But this year, it looks really promising.”

Some apples will be smaller, thanks to a dry summer that has left lakes and streams very low in the mountains. But that actually may make the fruit better, he says. When the fruit is smaller, it concentrates the fruit sugar and starches.

Butler says Labor Day visitors will find Honeycrisp, Gala and McIntosh apples ready to pick, with Jonathans coming in about Sept. 10. He still has freestone peaches through Labor Day as well.

For details, directions and hours for apple farms, you have several sources. You can go to www.skytoporchard.com, or go to www.ncapples.com for apple farms in the Henderson County area. Or go to www.charlotteobserver.com/food for a database of pick-your-own farms, including fall crops such as apples and pumpkins.

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