How do you like these apples?
Visit Ron's Apple Farm in Firwood for fabulous fruit
Did you know that there is a U-pick apple farm just around the corner with varieties you probably never heard of? On a recent autumn day we spent a delightful afternoon at Ron's Apple Farm in Firwood learning about one man's passion for grafting and growing, as he explains, 'apples for people who like apples.'
Ron Grantz just might be the 'Apple man' of Sandy. Known to many as a biology teacher at Sandy High for 31 years - possessing a master's degree in physical education and a bachelor of science in biology - Grantz says, 'I have always had an interest in fruit growing. I love fruit.'
In the course of teaching apple tree grafting - inserting a section of a stem with leaf into the stock of a tree - to sophomores for 15 years, and inviting all of the adults in the community to graft their own trees, he figures 'we have grafted about 5,000 apple trees in that time.'
As we walk through the rows of trees with unfamiliar names, Grantz informs us that 'in order for an apple to make it commercially, it needs to look pretty, produce large crops, keep for long periods, hold up in cold storage and all ripen at the same time. If you noticed, taste wasn't mentioned. I grow apple varieties that have flavor as my No. 1 priority. These are lip-smacking good apples.'
He snaps an ordinary looking whitish-yellow-skinned apple off the next tree and cuts the crisp skin revealing a remarkable slice of pink fruit. 'Pink Pearl,' he says with a twinkle and offers a fat wedge to us, balanced expertly on the edge of his pen knife.
'You can't buy that at the store,' he says. 'Kathryn Bliss at the Rendezvous gets them and serves a beautiful salad at her restaurant in Welches.'
The orchard is full of surprising apples. Grantz provides a list to guide you through these amazing 'gourmet apple varieties.'
Apple season at Ron's Farm runs from September to late October. Grantz has thoughtfully planted all sorts of varieties that reach their peak throughout the season on his four plus acres. But you need to get there now if you want to take a 'walk through the rows' with Grantz and his lovely wife of 36 years, Judi.
Now that Judi has retired, the couple are giving in to wanderlust and want to travel around the United States. So they are selling their beautiful home with wrap-around porch and stunning gardens.
'Being native Oregonians, we will miss the yard working and green colors, but hopefully that can be replaced with long walks in the sun. And golf,' Grantz adds with a smile.
He and his wife press cider at 2 p.m. Sundays. All are invited to pick apples. Cider and apples are available for sale.
Samples are free, and it's a wonderful way to welcome fall with the family. Call the farm at 503-668-5746 or drive by for a flyer. Ron's Apple Farm is at 21025 S.E. Firwood Road.
From a column that Kurt and Michelle Winner write for The Sandy Post called 'Tips and Recipes.'
Judi's Apple Crisp
Judi Grantz always gets asked for her fabulous recipe. She says it's great with ice cream when warm.
6 to 9 apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves (ground)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup walnuts
5 to 6 tablespoons butter
Make apple filling. Fill a 9x9-inch pan. Cover evenly with topping. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.