Tour North America’s only Crabapple Orchard

at Appleflats Crabapple Orchard

Adventures in agri-tourism

When it comes to looking for travel inspiration, we can find it from just about anywhere. Who among us hasn’t made a trip to a local farm to pick your own berries, attend a harvest festival, find the perfect pumpkin for Halloween, visit a vineyard, or check out an apple orchard with your family? We sure have -and we love it.

As the summer growing season is upon us, a day trip to the farm can be the perfect outing for the whole family. It is a great way to spend an afternoon, experience the outdoors, and enjoy fresh and local food. It can also help you understand where your food comes from, what it takes to get the food to your table and teach you about advancements in agriculture.

In Southwestern Ontario, there is one family farm that is working to bring back a forgotten crop. One small step at a time. Here, you will learn how the crabapple is making a comeback.

 

The Appleflats StoryThe first crabapple tree that started it all at Appleflats orchards

AppleFlats is a family-run crabapple orchard located in Wellesley, Ontario (just west of Kitchener/Waterloo), and it is the only commercial crabapple grower in North America. Glen and Alex Smyth are brothers who took a single crabapple tree planted on their family farm and turned it into a thriving business. It started simple enough. They took the crabapples growing in their front yard, made some jelly with it and sold it to a local restaurant. It was a hit, and things grew from there.

 

“Did you Know?: 80-90% of heritage crabapples have disappeared from Canada”

 

The Appleflats Market in Shakespeare

Our first introduction to AppleFlats happened when we were on our way to a Stratford festival show. We decided to make a full day of it by visiting many shops, markets, and attractions in and around Stratford, including the lovely town of Shakespeare. Here is where we found Appleflats market, a beautiful country market selling items that have been created by and sourced from local producers in the area, including Appleflats own line of crabapple products. We sampled some of their spicy crabapple jelly, which was full of flavour; sweet – but not too sweet, and it has a nice kick of spice. We became instant fans.

Click to Discover More ideas for a Perth County Getaway.

 

Tour the Appleflats Crabapple Orchard

Glen & Alex invited us to take a tour of their orchard in Wellesley, ON. We had the opportunity to learn the story of their origins and how they took a nearly unwanted fruit and turned it into a growing business -almost by accident. You will learn how crabapples are grown and harvested and how the Smythe family are working to bring crabapples back to the Canadian landscape. It is a real family affair where each person uses their unique skill set to contribute to its success. Their father even engineered a machine that removes leaves and debris from the harvested crabapples, speeding up production on a typically labour-intensive process.

As you tour the orchard, you will hear a buzz in the air. Working with another local producer, Nith Valley Apiaries, Appleflats orchards has several on-site beehives to encourage natural pollination of the crabapples. There are no pesticides used in the production of the Appleflats crabapples. Instead, songbirds take care of pest control. As you tour the growing operations, learn all about terms like rootstock & espalier, and they relate to the future of high-density growth.

You can explore the grounds, including a beautiful sitting area and sculpture garden (their mother is an artist), as you enjoy some snacks and beverages at the end of your tour while you chat with other visitors and your hosts. As you conclude your tour with Appleflats, you will be gifted either a jar of one of the jellies or a bottle of one of their cocktail mixers to enjoy at home.

Tours take place every Saturday from 11 AM – 12:30 PM 

AppleFlats Crabapple Products

The folks at Appleflats have created a great selection of products, including crabapple jelly (regular and spicy), as well as an assortment of cocktail mixers – sour apple, sweet maple, juicy pear, and harvest peach, each using locally sourced ingredients.

Our Recipes

I am not much of a mixologist, but we do enjoy a delicious cocktail. Nor would I consider myself a chef, but I make up for ingenuity for what I lack in technical ability. I possess a talent for using the ingredients I have on hand and turn them into something tasty. We always keep Appleflats cocktail mixers and jellies on hand, and this has served us well in our kitchen & bar.

For a social media marketing campaign that they were working on, the boys at Appleflats asked us to create some cocktails using the different flavours of their mixers. These are the four recipes we concocted. They are relatively simple and easy to recreate. I hope you enjoy them.

FYI: we eyeball all recipes – so play around with quantities and make them your own. 

 

Cocktails

Cinnamon Pear Margarita
                                              • Tequila
                                              • Triple Sec
                                              • AppleFlats Juicy Pear Cocktail Mixer
                                              • lime juice
                                              • Barlett Pear cut into cubes and sprinkled with sugar, allowing the juices to flow
                                              • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to taste
                                              • Cinnamon Sugar for rimming

Muddle the pear chunks and cinnamon together. Add Tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, and Appleflats juicy Pear cocktail mix in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour through a strainer into a margarita glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Garnish with a slice of pear and a cinnamon stick.

 

Peach-Rhubarb Gin Fiz
                                              • Junction 56 Rhubarb Gin
                                              • AppleFlats Harvest Peach Cocktail mixer
                                              • rhubarb softened with sugar to create a lovely rhubarb syrup
                                              • Peach chopped and softened with sugar to allow juices to flow
                                              • Club Soda
                                              • Sugar for rimming

In a cocktail mixer, muddle the softened peaches and rhubarb—mix in Rhubarb Gin & Appleflats Harvest peach cocktail mixer. Add ice and shake vigorously. Rim chilled glasses with sugar. Pour through a strainer, filling glasses 2/3 of the way. Top the glass up with club soda.

 

 

Sweet with Heat

Muddle some jalapeno slices in a cocktail shaker with maple syrup & ginger. Add Rum, Appleflats Sweet Maple Crabapple cocktail mixer and fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour cocktail through a strainer into glass rubbed with jalapeno, rimmed with Demerara brown sugar – filling 2/3 full. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a slice of jalapeno.

 

 

Crabapple Sour
                                          • Whiskey
                                          • Appleflats Sour apple Cocktail mixer
                                          • lime juice
                                          • egg white

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into glasses. Garnish with a lime wedge.

 

 

Another refreshing and delicious summertime drink that is super easy to prepare:

Peach 4 Ways
                                      • AppleFlats Harvest Peach cocktail mixer
                                      • Dillon’s Peach Schnapps
                                      • Peach flavoured iced tea
                                      • Peaches – softened with sugar to allow juices to flow
                                      • Club soda – optional if you like a fizzy drink- peach flavoured if you can find it. (This would make it Peach 5 Ways)

Muddle peaches in a shaker, add schnapps and Appleflats Harvest Peach cocktail mixer and shake well. Pour through a strainer into a mason jar rimmed with sugar—top with iced tea and club soda for a fizzy drink, and stir. Serve with peach slices and a sprig of mint.

 

Cooking tip: for a tasty and easy to prepare side dish for your next autumn feast, roast your favourite squash or sweet potatoes in the oven (or BBQ), and just before they are done, coat them with a generous layer of Appleflats Spicy Crabapple Jelly, and place back into the oven until the jelly starts to caramelize. When we went away to a cabin for thanksgiving, we forgot some sweeteners and seasoning, so we improvised using the spicy jelly, and it worked out perfectly. So simple; anyone can do it. 

Include the Appleflats Crabapple jellies in your next charcuterie board or cheese and cracker plate – it will be a hit.

 

Did you Know? : Appleflats Crabapple Jellies have 40% less sugar than similar products.

You can find their fantastic crabapple products in many local markets, farm stores, and grocery stores. Or you can visit their retail store in Shakespeare, ON – which we do quite often.

To learn more about AppleFlats Crabapple products and plan your tour of the orchard, click here.

 

Author

Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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