Sweet Sixteen apples, sold by Buffalo Ridge Orchards at the Marion Farmers Market, is a perfect apple for eating fresh. Iowa is experiencing a bumper crop of apples this year. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Sweet Sixteen, sold by Buffalo Ridge Orchard at the Marion Farmers Market, is the perfect apple for eating fresh. Iowa is experiencing a bumper crop of apples this year. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Iowa orchards went from a deficit last year to a bumper crop of apples this year.

State Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, offers sound advice on visiting an Iowa apple orchard this fall, along with a mouth-watering apple recipe, passed along from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship:

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged Iowans to consider visiting a local apple orchard this fall. Many growers are reporting their apples are maturing a little ahead of normal, so now is a great time to visit an apple farm or pick some up at the local farmers market.

“While the cool, wet spring challenged many Iowa farmers, it has been near perfect weather for Iowa’s apple trees and the result is many orchards are reporting a bumper crop,” Northey said.  “Taking your family to an apple orchard is a great way to enjoy the autumn weather while also providing your family with healthy, wholesome food and great memories.”

Visiting a local orchard is a great way to find new varieties that may not be available in a grocery store.  Most orchards offer samples, so consider trying a new variety this year.  Farmers at the orchard can help recommend varieties that are ideal for baking, making apple sauce or eating fresh.

A list of apple growers can be found on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s directory at:  https://www.idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm

Before heading to the orchard here a number of helpful tips to make sure you get the most out of your visit:

·        Check the website of the farm you will be attending as there are many fall festivals occurring that will offer heaps of fun activities and entertainment for the whole family

·        Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you aren’t afraid to get dirty

·        Bring sun gear (lotions/hats/sunglasses)

·        Many farms offer drinks and snacks and even lunch, so you may want to bring along some extra money (check with the farm before going)

·        Be sure and read rules of the farm and adhere to them as they are there to help keep you safe

Once you get the apples home there are a wide variety of delicious treats apples can be used to make.  Consider this easy apple brownies recipe taken from the Apple Lover’s Cookbook.

Apple Brownies

1 c flour                                  1 c sugar

1 t cinnamon                          ½ t baking powder

½ t salt                                                ¼ t baking soda

1 large egg                              1 stick melted butter

2 large firm-sweet apples        ½ c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set a rack to the middle position.  Grease the baking dish with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder salt and baking soda.  In separate bowl beat together butter, sugar and egg for about 2 minutes.  Add walnuts and apples and stir by hand until evenly combined.  Add the flour mixture and stir until combined, another 30 seconds.

Spread the batter into the pan and bake until golden brown and lightly firm to the touch (40-50 minutes).  Let cool and cut into bars.

Related articles:

New Fruit TreeKeepers program

Iowa apple losses

Marion Farmers Market