Saturday we went apple picking at Draper Girls Orchards in Mt. Hood Parkdale, OR.
Hood River is packed with pear and apple orchards and wine vineyards. Must be good soil, eh? This place is really neat and I like how they run business. We made this trip for two reasons, one being so our kids would learn where apples *really* came from…which is NOT the grocery store and two being I have 30 empty quart jars at home that need filling.
Parking is bit hard and be warned: it is really dusty. Parking is probably a bit more available when they lot isn’t filled up with hundreds of crates to ship out their pre-picked apples to stores.
So after you find a parking space, there is a check in desk where one person in your party signs in and then you write down the numbers on the buckets that they give you to pick with. You even leave your phone number on the sign in sheet because I bet they call your butt when a bucket you signed out doesn’t make it back to the desk.
Price for the apples is per bucket. Filled to the rim = $20. Filled just over the rim = $25. Overflowing buckets with you left carrying some in your hands = $30. Here is the other great part, once you sign in and grab your buckets, someone leads you out in the orchard. You better bring your listening ears because his person is going to tell you what all the rows of trees are. If you aren’t good at listening (or remembering) don’t fret, the first tree in each row has a ribbon with the apple name on it. You still waiting for the great part? Okay, here it is. The place is literally a free-for-all. Meaning, you load your buckets with whatever type of apple you want and they even have pears!! They all go in the same bucket! This is PRIME for applesauce or even if you just want a variety of apples. Now, one catch is Honeycrisp apples. I know, I had all my PNW’s thinking they could get Honeycrisp’s for dirt real cheap 🙂 You need to keep a separate bucket for Honeycrisp apples. Prices were $30, $35 and $40 for the fill levels. If you pick and do a good enough job keeping the stems on, these apples will last 2-3 months in a refrigerator. I asked about the pears (because I’m saucing those too) and they are going to take 1-2 months to ripen, so if we move, my friends can come take all these pears!
I’m sorry to report that I have no photos of the actual apple picking because I simply cannot carry a camera, two buckets and keep track of my boys. From the photos I took, you’d think we took them pumpkin picking…whoops! That’s next Tuesday 🙂
If you don’t even want to pick, they have bins upon bins of apples.
They also sell their own unpasteurized pear cider, apple cider and pear/apple cider. They also had gourds and pumpkins.
I totally recommend this place. I’m all about easy instruction and plentiful picking, so this is the place! Maybe this is how all apple orchards work, but I haven’t been to one since fall 2010 and in Maine they don’t have 10 million variety of apples like this place did. I can’t wait to see how my applesauce turns out!