The time for apples is now

The apples are ripe for the pickin’ but time is running out to get to the farm and stock up.

“We are open the next two weekends but our last day will be Oct. 27,” said Cathy Burch, who, along with husband Tom, owns Hidden Hills Orchard.

Located at 5680 State Route 26, Hidden Hills is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. for pick your own or to purchase apples already picked. After that, the apples will only be available locally at the Marietta Giant Eagle.

“We have had a wonderful crop – not a bumper crop – but it has been a good year,” Burch said.

The orchard has 5,000 trees and 20 varieties of apples, including Honeycrisp, Pinova, Cameo, Red Delicious, Granny Smith and its most popular variety, Gold Rush.

“It is sweet, tart, good for eating and cooking and it keeps forever,” Burch explained.

Prices at Hidden Hills are the same as they were two years ago, according to the owner: pick yourself for 70 cents a pound or, depending on the variety, $5.25 for a five-pound bag of pre-picked.

Once you have purchased your apples, there are quite a few ways to keep enjoying them throughout the year.

According to Kathy Doddrill, Ohio State University extension educator for family and consumer sciences, apples can be sliced and frozen for use in pies, breads or just to eat later.

“You would want to treat with ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, to keep the fruit from turning brown,” Doddrill said. “You would probably want to peel the apples also, though you would lose some of the nutrients.”

Canning apple sauce, apple butter, preserves and pie filling is another way to use up any apples that are purchased.

A favorite apple product – cider – is another way to enjoy the fruit, though Doddrill recommends making sure the drink has been pasteurized.

“If it hasn’t gone through that process, you run the risk of getting a food-borne illness caused by bacteria,” she said.

The cider at Lane’s Farm Market, 20620 State Route 676, goes through a UV filtration process, according to owner Ted Lane.

“If kept at 35 to 40 degrees in the refrigerator, it should keep up to three weeks,” he said.

The cider is made up of a good mix of about five varieties of sweet and tart, including red and yellow delicious and Stayman-Winesap. Folks who come by the market on Saturday morning have a good chance of seeing the old apple press being used.

According to Lane, whose favorite apple happens to be the E.H. Lane, a signature variety grown exclusively at the farm, the good weather has caused the market to be flooded, at least as far as his business is concerned.

“We’ve had a lot of rain during the growing season and we really have a lot of apples – in fact, we are slashing prices now because we really need to move them,” Lane said.

Fuji and Braeburn apples are still waiting to be picked.

Lane’s Farm Market is open Monday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The market is closed on Sundays.