We haven’t been on a family outing since our morning hike in Saguaro National Park a few weeks ago. In fact, the baby, Gavin, thought we were going to church! He even went and found his Bible to take with him. Going to Sunday morning church is the only place right now that we go as a family every week.
We had been planning to go to Apple Annie’s Orchard in Willcox, Arizona for a couple of months. We were sad to have missed peach picking season, but we were especially interested in their green chili roasting that started last weekend.
Apple Annie’s Orchard is a family-owned farm in Willcox, Arizona, about a 2 hour drive from our house in Marana. Apple Annie’s offers a great experience for families by offering U-pick produce at reasonable prices. They also have a country store, a bakery, and a restaurant called The Orchard Grill where you can eat breakfast or lunch right there in the orchards! I wish we had been able to visit the country store, bakery (to buy apple cider donuts!), and The Orchard Grill but we weren’t able to make it to those places today.
We left our house around 7:30 AM and arrived at the orchard around 9:30 AM. It was still cool out and a little bit cloudy when we arrived. We were greeted with some handfuls of kettle corn from a greeter by the orchard entrance. So yummy!
It was easy to figure out what to do. There were apple picking poles and wagons for people to use during their apple picking adventure as well as plastic bags to hold picked fruit.
There weren’t any sanitized poles when we got there, but there was a sanitizing station right nearby so we just sanitized them ourselves. Very easy to do!
I’m so glad there were wagons available to use because we ended up picking a lot of apples!
There were quite a few other families picking apples, but there were so many apple trees and so many ripe apples that we were able to spread out and maintain social distancing. We knew a row of apple trees was ready for harvesting when there was a sign by that row.
It was so nice to pick apples for a little while in the shade since it was cloudy. The views were so pretty too!
There were plenty of apples within reach of children and ours had fun finding good ones to put in our wagon. Josh had us all sample one golden delicious before picking, and the apple was so yummy that we ended up picking a lot more than we had planned! Sampling is allowed as long as you’re not just taking one bite of an apple and then throwing it on the ground.
Our wagon filled up quickly! Our youngest, Gavin, wasn’t too sure what to think of apple picking.
At first, we weren’t planning to buy any red delicious, but they ended up being so good that we picked some of those too!
We plan on canning most of the apples we picked. The kids wanted to eat some of them too though, so I guess we can let them do that. We ended up picking almost 35 pounds of apples! That will make a lot of apple pies!
There was also pear picking available. I’m not a huge fan of Bartlett pears but I love Asian pears and there were three varieties to choose from! So after apple picking, we walked over to the pear picking area to get a few Asian pears.
There weren’t as many pear trees to harvest from. In fact, in our first row we visited, we had a hard time finding any to pick! But after some further searching we found the amount we wanted.
Pear trees are very leafy, pretty trees! We are now wondering how they would grow where we live.
I think these are 20th Century Asian pears, but I’m not totally sure. We were wandering across rows looking for pears to harvest and we lost track of which type of pear we were looking at. The other possibility is Yoinashi Asian Pear.
Josh sampled one of the Bartlett pears. He said the Asian pears were better.
The housi pears were so little and cute that I went and picked two. They also look more like I expected Asian pears to look, apple-shaped and brown skin with white speckles.
We ended up with a total of 10 Asian pears. Since I’m the only one who really likes them, we didn’t want to buy too many.
After paying for our apples and pears (let me just say that it cost a bit, but we did buy almost 40 pounds of fruit so we knew it would be a lot), we headed over to the produce and pumpkin fields, about 6 miles away. There were no pumpkins to harvest (we would save that for October anyway!), but there were plenty of vegetables to pick from!
This is the field that is closest to the front entrance. We ended up picking only green beans from here. There were so many! Growing our own green beans is something we miss and Josh plans to try growing them again next year.
At the produce fields, there are wheelbarrows to use for carrying your picked vegetables.
Josh doesn’t like okra so we skipped picking those. Their flowers are very pretty though and quite a few of the okra plants were blooming.
I noticed that eggplant was on the harvesting list on the website so I knew that I wanted some of those! Josh makes an eggplant parmesan that is just delicious!
The kids are not fans of eggplant and weren’t too happy that we were picking some!
Our daughter, Gwen, loves tomatoes, so she went with Josh to go pick some! One of the neat things about picking your own produce is that the kids see where their food comes from. Josh has been growing a lot of our own produce for years but it is still good for the kids to see a working farm.
Another gorgeous view! I love the mountains here so much.
I didn’t see any banana peppers and ended up picking Santa Fe peppers instead. That’s ok though because Josh canned the Santa Fe peppers and the banana peppers together.
At the checkout area, we also picked up a half pound of banana peppers since we didn’t see any out in the fields. Josh also wanted about 10 pounds of roasted chilies to can, and I had to get some of their sweet corn to try! There were also a few shelves of jarred goods available. I had seen their candied jalapenos online and wanted to compare them to Terra Verde Foods’ Spicy Os. So we bought a jar of candied jalapenos and some cherry preserves.
The chili roaster making the air smell delicious at Apple Annie’s Orchard
So much healthy food that we will get to eat for the next few months!
To finish off our Apple Annie’s outing, Josh and I shared some green chile ice cream! It was delicious; a curious blend of cold sweetness and spice! The kids definitely weren’t interested in trying this so we didn’t share with them.
The kids were happy to munch on a snack-size apple though once we got home and I was finished taking pictures for the blog! I think they will be very happy when I make an apple pie next weekend too.
We weren’t able to visit the bakery, Orchard Grill, and Country Store this time, but we are hoping to on our next visit, which will most likely be in October during pumpkin season. Hopefully, there will still be apple cider donuts available because I was very sad we missed out on those!
Thanks for reading and if you live in southern Arizona, Apple Annie’s is definitely worth a visit!