Preserving the taste of the High Country at Crossnore Heritage Orchard | Avery
CROSSNORE – Apple season is in full swing in Avery County.
Apple tree owners and orchards harvest early fall apples in the High Country, where the apples grow spectacularly. One of those orchards bearing substantial fruit is the Crossnore Heritage Orchard.
Launched in 2009, Crossnore Orchard contains around 22 different varieties of apples on around 38 different trees. The public orchard is owned by Crossnore Communities for Children and is used by the Avery Cooperative Extension for environmental education and agricultural demonstrations. The orchard is also a living embodiment of Avery’s agricultural history which helps to remember what has helped support the people of the area for years. Some of the trees in the orchard have nameplates with informational and historical messages to describe the variety.
The apple varieties in this orchard consist of many types that are not usually found in a general store. Strains such as American Golden Russet, also known as Rusty Coat, Virginia Beauty, and Newtown Pippin ripen around this time. They are a tasty way to get a taste of historic High Country culture.
Thanks to the interest of local citizens, these heritage varieties have been identified and grafted to create a culture that preserves history, educates and satisfies the community.
This season has been particularly strong to bear fruit for the Crossnore Heritage Orchard. Bill Hoffman, agricultural extension officer, said this year has provided “an incredible harvest of apples.” He noted that there were “good conditions, less frost and just the right time for them to endure.”
One of the perks of Crossnore’s location is that it’s a bit too residential for large expanses of deer to roam, which Hoffman refers to as one of the crop’s biggest pests. The site offers good soil, good sun disposition and air circulation which contributes to proper growth.
Apples, a versatile fruit, can be more than just eaten on the branch. Applesauce and cider are delicious ways to ingest the vitamins inherent in the fruit. Most of the apple varieties found in the orchard are ideal for both uses. Apple cider, a popular fall drink, can be made easily using a cider press.
The Avery Extension Service has a press that can be hired by the day for personal use. The press crushes the apples into a pulp, then an attached crank is used to squeeze all the sweet nectar from the fruit. When finished, the cider comes out ready to drink.
Cider is a nuanced drink and can be made from any type of apple. Some, like the Grimes Golden, are better suited than others. However, mixing different varieties in one cider is a great way to personalize the drink. The different ripeness of apples can also alter the flavor, bringing a bit of mystery to the mixture. Hoffman explained that cider freezes extremely well, so it can be stored for an extended period of time and enjoyed later.