It might still be August, but apple season has begun in Southwestern Ontario. And we’re not talking about imported apples at the grocery store from Chile, China or the US. You can get plenty of apples grown right here, right now.
The Apple of My Eye
There are over 7,500 cultivars of apple trees in the world, many of which grow in Ontario. We’ll excuse you if that number astounds you. A few years ago grocery stores stocked hardy varieties like McIntosh, Red Delicious, and the tart Granny Smith, with little else to choose from. Royal Galas, Empires and Golden Delicious soon snuck in, but new varieties are added all the time. Now you can find apples with exotic names like Pink Lady, Fuji, Jazz, Eve and Ambrosia. Marketing departments hire only the best when it comes to naming fruit it would seem!
The taste and colours of apples vary almost as widely as the names. You can find green, red, pink, and yellow apples, plus some that have a mix of colours, like the Divine apple with pink-orange stripes over a yellow background. Tastes range from tart to sweet, with flesh that is crisp to slightly soft. Most apples are perfect for eating out of hand, but there are some that lend themselves better to cooking and baking, and others that are the preferred choice for ciders and juice.
Top 5 apples – According to Ontario Apple Growers, the top five apple varieties in Ontario (based on acreage planted) are McIntosh, Empire, Northern Spy, Red Delicious and Gala.
So what can you expect to find in London and area? Well that depends upon the season. Early varieties include Lodi, Paula Red, Ginger Gold, and Sunrise. Ambrosia, Galas, Honey Crisp and McIntosh are right behind them. By the end of September, Empire, Jonagold, Cortland, Golden Delicious and Mutsu are ready for the picking. From the end of September into October, expect to find Ida Red, Northern Spy, Red Delicious and Fuji apples.
If you are looking to find local apples, note that not all apple varieties are found at all orchards. You shouldn’t have far to go to find them though. The Ontario Apple Growers have over 200 farmers with almost 20 different varieties grown on 16,000 acres of land. Those numbers don’t include farmers with 10 acres of land or less. That makes finding an apple in our neck of the woods easy as (apple) pie.
In the London area alone, you can find u-pick apple orchards at Appleland Station, Great Lakes Farms, Dwarf Tree Orchards, Thiessen Orchards, and Janssens Farm Market & U-Pick. If you prefer to pick your apples from a market versus directly from the tree, you have plenty more to choose from; Thomas Bros Market, Covent Garden Market, Western Fair Market, Trails End, M & R Orchards, Crunican Orchard, just to name a few.
While many u-pick farmers don’t officially open their doors til Labour Day weekend or later, now is the time to hit your local farms and markets to get your fresh fix of apples. As they are high in fibre (pectin) and vitamin C, plus low in calories (approx 50 Calories per medium apple), apples make for the perfect snack.
So which apple variety is your favourite?
I bought Lodi apples at Thomas Bros. Market, London approx. 4 years ago and we have hunted all over even ventured to Niagara on the Lake to attempt to find them but to no avail. Where can we buy Lodi apples???
Thank You in advance for your input
Lodi apples are one of the first apples to ripen in apple season. The Lodi you see in this post was from Thomas Brothers market. Maybe you could ask them where it was grown? They usually sell local produce whenever possible, so it should be from Ontario somewhere.
Hope that helps, if not for this year, than for next!
Allins Orchards in Newcastle Ontario has them out right now. (August 8, 2020)
I want to make mini caramel apples for a party, but don’t want to use a melon baller and make a watery mess of it. I heard there is a type of apple- Lady apple- that is very small. Does anyone know where I can get these in Ontario?
That is an excellent question Melanie. You could start with a local orchard, as they are usually the most knowledgeable about apple varieties. Even if they don’t grow the kind you are looking for, they may be able to find out where you might be able to pick some up or suggest other apples that might work for your caramel apples.
In London, you could try Appleland (http://www.applelandstation.com/), Great Lakes Farms (http://www.greatlakesfarms.ca/), or even Ontario Apple Growers (http://www.onapples.com/). That should be a good place to start you off.
Thanks for asking!
I have an Apple tree and thanks to this article I am now convinced they are ‘ Sunrise ‘
Glad we could help Christine!
Do you know of any orchards in Ontario that has a number of really old apple trees? I have read that the original McIntosh apple tree dead in 1910 which means it lived to be about 100 years old.
Not off the top of my head Johannes. And yes, I’ve read that the original McIntosh farm is in a poor state of repairs as well. A piece of our history, faded away…
Does anyone know where I can find Earligold or Lodi apples? Thanks!
We would suggest always checking with your local farmer’s markets. Even if they don’t have a specific variety you are looking for, they will probably have a suggestion on where you can look for them.
Where can I pick or buy red flesh apples ?
We live in Eastern Ontario
Hi Denise. We are located in London, Ontario, so not as familiar with Eastern Ontario orchards. I am sure there are a few around though. Good luck! Happy hunting.