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Apple picking in Quebec

September 25, 2020
Li Sylvie Locaal Ambiance 05

In Quebec, apple picking is a tradition for many. Everyone has a fond memory or two about their apple picking adventures. There is just something magical about an orchard — the great outdoors, stealing a bite of apple between two rows of apple trees, children running around, typical wooden ladders and countless family photos captured over the years. It is part of our traditions, one of life’s little pleasures.

The older generation may remember back when selection was limited to Lobo, McIntosh, Spartan or Cortland. Over time however, new varieties of apples have cropped up in our orchards, and we are thrilled to get to try them all.

Indulge

Today, dozens of varieties of apples — each more exquisite than the next — are available for picking. With a selection this vast, the possibilities are endless. Learn how to identify them, taste them and choose the right ones for what you intend to do with them. Not all apples are ideal for cooking. They each have their own distinct characteristics.

Did you know that there are also varieties of apples used only to produce fine food and drinks? Like the Geneva apple, known for its pale red colour. It is used to make rosé sparkling wine produced by Michel Jodoin, one of the pioneers of cider in Quebec. As well as an effervescent cider that bares its name from Domaine Lafrance right here in the Laurentians.

Although visually stunning, don't be tempted by its beauty! It is not particularly pleasing to the palate when eaten raw. This apple develops all of its magic when transformed into cider. If you have the chance to take a walk through an orchard that grows Geneva apples, give it a try. You won’t be taking it home with you, but at least you will have tasted its distinct flavour.

For your at-home recipes, turn instead to the many varieties of apples available for picking. They are sure to enhance your recipes and satisfy your taste buds.

Here are the most popular types of apples available for picking in Quebec:

Ambrosia

Use: For baking and eating fresh. Extremely popular due to its great versatility. In desserts, the flesh does not brown and keeps its shape when cooked.

Picking: mid-October

Cortland

Use: Perfect for juicing, cooking, cider making and eating fresh. Ideal in salads since it does not brown quickly.

Picking: mid-September to October

Golden Delicious

Use: Great for baking and eating fresh! It has a long shelf life. However, only available in limited quantities in Quebec.

Picking: mid-October

Red Delicious

Use: Perfect in juice and good to eat fresh. It is also only available in limited quantities in Quebec.

Picking: end of October

Empire

Use: Good to eat fresh or to make cider. Very firm and does not bruise easily. Ideal for kids’ lunches.

Picking: October to June

Gala

Use: Good to eat fresh or for cooking. It is juicy and very crunchy.

Picking: September to April

Ginger Gold

Use: Good to eat fresh or for cooking. Ideal for salads.

Picking: September to October

Honeycrisp

Use: Good to eat fresh or for cooking. It is crunchy and juicy.

Picking: October to April

Jersey Mac

Use: Ripens early. Perfect for making juice or eating fresh. Not ideal for cooking.

Picking: mid-August to September

Lobo

Use: To bake and eat fresh. Ideal for pies, because it keeps its shape when baking.

Picking: mid-September to November.

Melba

Use: For cooking. Less crunchy and ideal for pies.

Picking: August

McIntosh

Use: One of the most popular in Quebec. It is extremely versatile. Good for juicing, baking, eating fresh, and making cider. Ideal for compotes or juices, because it is very sweet and full of juice.

Picking: October to June

Passionata

Use: A relatively new apple introduced in 2015. Perfect for baking or eating fresh.

Picking: Mid-October

Paulared

Use: Ripens late, ideal for cooking or eating fresh.

Picking: End of August to October

Primgold

Use: Less commonly known, but really great to eat fresh.

Picking: mid-September

Rosinette

Use: For cooking or eating fresh. So practical since it keeps for a very long time.

Picking: end of September

Spartan

Use: One of the crunchiest. It is great for baking, eating fresh or making cider.

Picking: October to June

Summered

Use: Good for cooking.

Picking: end of August

Sunrise

Use: This early bird is delicious as a snack. Very good to eat and it is our chef Martin Patenaude’s favourite apple.

Picking: late August to September

Vista Bella

Use: An early variety, it is excellent for cooking or to eat fresh.

Picking: end of August

To find an orchard for picking, visit: https://lapommeduquebec.ca/aut...

Although many of the larger orchards are in Cantons-de-l’Est, Montérégie, Laurentides and Center-du-Quebec, there are some charming little orchards scattered throughout Quebec. Show your support by visiting these orchards and enjoying their products.

Happy picking!

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