Sunday, October 7, 2018

An Apple a Day

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

It would be much simpler to pick up apples, squash, and other produce at the grocery store, but nothing compares to making a trip to an apple orchard.

You can find orchards in most areas of our beautiful state, but for us, nothing compares to making the drive to the Gays Mills area. Highway 171 from Rolling Ground, through Gays Mills, and all the way to Mount Sterling will give you many opportunities to stop for apples and other fall treats. And along the way you will see hillsides full of apple trees heavy with fruit waiting to be picked.

We have our list of usual items that we buy on our trip, which includes apples, apple cider donuts, caramel apples, pecans, squash, and cheese. We have favorite stops for each of those items, but you should explore the area and find your own favorite places.

The good, or great, news is that almost every orchard now makes apple cider donuts. You can try to control yourself and buy just a few warm donuts to enjoy immediately. Or you can do like many people do and buy several dozen to freeze for later enjoyment.

This year, we were at Sunrise Orchards on a Wednesday, and they were having a hard time staying ahead of the demand for donuts. However, that means everyone was getting warm donuts.

Here, in this photo from Sunrise Orchards, you can see the processing line where they are sorting apples.

And behind the counter of bagged apples, you will see them bagging up even more apples. As soon as you pick up a bag, a new bag takes its place.

Sunrise sells number 1 apples which are the prettiest and most uniform in size, and number 2 apples which taste the same but aren’t quite as red, or might be smaller in size. A few might have a tiny bruise, but usually any bruised apples would be made into cider or slush.

We always buy our caramel apples at Sunrise Orchards. We like the apple variety they use, and they’re a nice size apple for the price. Yummy!

After we finish at Sunrise and have a late breakfast in the parking lot (gotta eat some donuts while they’re still warm), we head west on Highway 171, through Gays Mills down in the valley, and up the ridge on the other side.

Our next destination is West Ridge Orchard which has a great variety of squash and pumpkins. They also have big mums for sale and, of course, a large selection of apples. If you like to make applesauce, using a variety of apples is nice and the prices there are great.

After we’ve gotten everything we need at West Ridge Orchard, we head west just a few more miles. During this short drive, you’ll find a couple of typical Wisconsin farms growing the usual crops of corn and soybeans.

Just as you enter Mt. Sterling, you’ll see the Mt. Sterling Co-Op Creamery on the left-hand side. Here you’ll find a variety of cheeses, made from either goat or cow milk. This is our final stop before we turn north and start to meander toward home. You could also continue on Hwy 171 all the way to the Mississippi.

If you haven’t visited an apple orchard yet for the year, or you need your first or another dozen apple cider donuts, head on out for an orchard visit. Hopefully, this rainy weather pattern will change and we’ll all be able to enjoy the fall.

Happy Shunpiking!

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  1. Thanks for sharing your Orchard Road Trip! Happy Fall! :)

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. Happy Autumn to you, too! We were near Baraboo yesterday and the colors are really starting to pop!

  2. Pictures and text so inviting one can almost taste the apples!

    1. Thanks, Jean. I love all the sights, scents, and tastes of autumn. Happy fall to you and John!

  3. We didn't get out to Sunrise this year for apples and apple cider donuts but we did find that a small orchard near home (Lapacek's Orchard) had a very nice selection of apples and...freshly made apple cider donuts! Going to an orchard is always one of our favorite things to do in the fall. Thanks for the nice story and photos!

    1. Visiting the apple orchards is my favorite way to start the fall season. There's nothing better than a crisp apple on a crisp fall day!