It is Washington’s most renowned export: the crisp, juicy apple. Here at Bella Luna, we grow over 30 delicious varieties of the state fruit, which means autumn is an especially busy and fulfilling season for us, as we harvest the annual yield from our trees.
Each morning we head out to the garden, often taste-testing a few apples to determine ripeness. And there are quite a few to check on, too: From Macintosh and Macoun to Lady and Liberty, a wide variety ripens all season long and range across the flavor spectrum. For snacking, we grow the popular Jonagold, which inherits its deep flavor from parent varieties Jonathan and Yellow Delicious, the latter of which we also grow. The sweet, late-season Golden Russet is also wonderful eaten fresh; other favorites also include the good-keeping Gala and the Akane variety, which is an excellent cooking apple.
Once harvested, the hand-picked fruit is destined for the farmhouse, where some go into stores for the winter, and others are put to use in the kitchen in fresh-made apple sauces and butters. A special reserve is set aside for one of our favorite traditions: the first apple pressing for our homemade cider. Washed then quartered, apples are set in our Jaffrey fruit press, which is then cranked by hand to grind the fruit. The ground pieces then drop into a mesh-lined drum, at which point we once again get our hands working, hand-turning the wheel at the top of the press. This motion screws a wooden disc down through the drum onto the bag, pressing the apple pulp into juice, which is then collected in a bucket at the bottom of the press. The finished product is incredibly crisp and fresh, capturing the wonderful flavors of fall in a single sip.