Stanthorpe apples have crunch

How disappointing is a floury, mushy apple that looked red rosy perfect in the fruit bowl? An apple is meant to be crunchy, firm and juicy. I don’t really care what it looks like, as long as it tastes the way an apple should.

I have been buying Stanthorpe apples since I moved to Brisbane. In fact, these days I can’t bring myself to buy apples that don’t come from the Stanthorpe region. Not because Stanthorpe is better than any other  apple growing town but because apples taste best fresh. Lengthy storage, gassing and green picking destroy all the good qualities of an apple, except it’s appearance. The close proximity of Stanthorpe to Brisbane means from late January to June, we are are spoilt with the influx of fresh apples at the local markets.

Stanthorpe apples from the Rocklea Wednesday twilight markets. Buy from a good stall and they should be able to tell you what day the apples were picked.

Every year I  have an autumn/winter love affair with the New England region of New South Wales.  To get down to the autumn leaves, smokey chimneys and frosty mornings we pass through Stanthorpe often during apple season.

Autumn colour just out of Glen Innes
Early morning frost in Tenterfield, New South Wales

On a recent visit to Stanthorpe, we stopped over at Sutton’s Farm to pick our own apples.  I admit this is a bit of a novelty activity set up for tourists, but who cares. Eating an apple you picked from the tree rocks.

Sutton’s farm is located in Thulimbah on the northern end of the Granite Belt.

Grab a few bags from inside the Cafe shed then follow the signs and start picking. The better apples tend to be at the back of the orchard. You are free to taste the apples as you pick.

At a cost of $2/kg it’s a bargain.

You will soon discover that snails go nuts for Stanthorpe apples too.

Sutton's farm is easily visible from the highway. Coming from Brisbane, the turn off is on the left, just before the big apple
Follow the pink ribbon into the orchard

There is over 30 varieties of apples on the farm, with the favourites (Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Mutsu, Royal Gala, Old Style Delicious and Jonathons) available to pick.
This year it has been all about the Pink Ladies for me

Ros and David Sutton own Sutton's farm and have thrived in a difficult industry. They have diversified from the traditional apple orchard to include a juice Factory, Cidery, Distillery and Home Style Café.
Sutton's apple juice is special. It is 100% pure varietal apple juice with no preservatives or additives. Each variety of apple produces a distinct taste. Depending on the season and demand you can buy Pink Lady or Royal Gala, Granny Smith, Winesap, Jonathan, Summer Delicious, Mutsu and Sundowner juice.

Sometimes when we run out of apples my husband and I will think of driving up to Stanthorpe just to pick more.  There is something special about eating apples you picked for yourself. I think it has to do with making a real connection to our food and taking the time to be part of the process.

We loved our apple picking adventure so much that a few weeks later we went back with my sister and brother-in-law. We had a ball running around the orchard, tasting and picking apples together.

In our fast paced life we are losing the connection to our food and the natural rhythms. When you get that back, even if for a little moment, you really notice it.

Knowing the provenance of your apples is going to become even more important this year, as imports from China and New Zealand are set to hit the shops in the coming months.

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3 thoughts on “Stanthorpe apples have crunch”

  1. Yes! A shiny, colourful, apple that’s so full of promise, but ultimately mushy, is amongst the biggest disappointments in life. Up there with realising you were totally wrong about something, and your mum was right.

    I’m all about the Pink Ladies. The apples are good too. ;-)

    Also like the idea of slowing life down for a little while to pick your own fruit, appreciate where it comes from and to appreciate how much better it tastes knowing the effort you put into picking them. Almost Zen.

  2. I love the sweeter crisp varieties. Unfortunately the Pink Ladies a picked too early and are usually to acidic for me. I have been getting Braeburn apples from the local markets and they are lovely sweet and crisp.

  3. Lovely post :) And it’s interesting to see the varieties sold in Qld compared to here in WA. I was just thinking about Jonathons a few weeks back – we don’t get them here any more (not in the main supermarkets, anyway). But we do get Fujis, and they are my apple of choice that meets your criteria – crunchy, firm and juicy, even if they look bruised and patchy a lot of the time (ssshhhh).

    When I was about your age I visited Great Uncle Kees in Victoria with mum, and he showed me THE most amazing book – a really old volume (100-200 years plus?? more? can’t remember) of fruit varieties found in Holland (and wider Europe?). Beautiful colour sketches, with names (hundreds!) and wax paper separating them. It was exquisite, and one of the most memorable viewing pleasures I’ve had. You would love it. Perhaps you could contact Eske and ask if she has it? I’ve often wondered what happened to it. xx.

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