On our Washington Apple Road Trip last week, Joy and I stopped in at Booth Canyon Orchard for a tour and apple tasting. Booth Canyon is a small, organic farm located in the beautiful Methow Valley. Owners Stina Booth and John Richardson grow apples and pears on just a few acres surrounding their home. Their orchard is a labor of love with 29 varieties of apples and 12 varieties of pears in production.
Harvest was in full swing when we arrived. Stina met us on her tractor, pulling a trailer full of ripe, beautiful apples. Unusual varieties like Prairie Spy, Belle de Boskoop, Spitzenburg, Spartan and Macaun – apples you will most likely never see in a grocery store.
Why grow these lesser known apples? It’s all about the flavor. Stina told us the mission at Booth Canyon Orchard is to grow the best tasting apples possible. And she takes this mission seriously. Joy’s comment, “These taste like the apples I remember from when I was a kid!” I’m guessing Stina hears that from a lot of people.
One of the secrets to Booth Canyon Orchard’s success is their size. By staying small and selling all of the apples themselves, Stina and John can grow varieties that may not be commercially viable, but provide incredible flavor profiles – we just loved them!
Just like vine-ripened tomatoes, apples picked ripe from the tree have a little extra something special going on and it’s worth seeking them out when possible. That means buying apples in season, because ripe apples can’t last in cold storage for more than a few months. Stina and John sell all of their apples and pears only between September and February – mainly at Seattle area farmers markets.
It’s a lot of work to sell apples this way. Stina and John load the truck up on Friday mornings, drive 5 hours to Seattle, and then sell to customers on Saturday and Sunday. You can’t get much closer to the source of your fruit unless you pick it yourself. If you live in the Seattle area, look for Booth Canyon Orchard at the University District Farmers Market, Ballard Farmers Market, and West Seattle Farmers Market. Apples and pears are available by the case and by the pound. It’s a great chance to try unusual apple varieties and to talk to the woman who actually grows them.
If you are lucky enough to live in the Methow Valley or you are planning a trip there, you can also find Booth Canyon Orchard fruit at Crown S Farm Store, Glover Street Market, Mazama Store, and the Rocking Horse Bakery.
And for everyone else, there is still a way to taste the fruit grown at Booth Canyon Orchard. Check out their D’Anjou pear gift boxes, which can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.