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It's prime time for fall apple fun

OK, all you homegrown apple lovers, now is the time to gorge. Take a fresh apple in your lunch, make caramel-dipped apples, bake an apple pie. There is no better time to enjoy them. We cannot get enough apples, and neither should you. Here are some apple things to do:

Mini apple driving excursion (with popcorn, garlic, cherries and wine, too)

Instead of doing laundry, take a mini day trip for apples and to stock up on holiday gifts and cooking ingredients.

We started at Sanger Farms & Bakery (852 Lockport St., Youngstown), where there are U-pick apples. Yes, we are lazy and simply buy apples in the shop. Sanger also sells outstanding baked goods (apple pie, pumpkin cookies, butter pecan tarts, gingersnap cookies) and local items like honey. Enjoy breakfast or lunch in the back barn café. Breakfast is served all day, and there are also lunch sandwiches and pizzas. Prices are cheap. We especially loved the slushy apple cider. In the shop, we bought a medium-sized eating apple we’ve never heard of called Ambrosia.

Delicious cider slushies at Sanger Farms to enjoy with your breakfast or lunch in the cafe.

From Sanger Farms head to Singer Farm Naturals (6730 Lake Road, Appleton). We made a pit stop on the way at Bye’s Popcorn (1667 Lockport Road, Olcott) for its famous cashew caramel popcorn.

Singer Farms has fantastic local gourmet foods and gift items, from fruit butters and salsas to herbal teas. We stock up on garlic from over 40 varieties, as well as frozen, pitted cherries for holiday baking. We love the Montmorency cherries, which are a darker, intense tart cherry. Don’t forget the luscious chocolate covered dried cherries. Slices of Tom's Ultimate Cherry pie are for sale to eat. Singer claims to have more than 500 cherries in it, from dried and fresh to cherry juice concentrate.

At Singer Farms you can also enjoy a piece of cherry pie made with regular and dried cherries, as well as cherry juice concentrate.

From Singer, we looped over to Medina’s Lynoaken Farms (10609 Ridge Road) for our three favorite eating apples in the world: SweeTango, Snapdragon and Rubyfrost. (They do have Honeycrisp, too.) You can buy Lyoaken Farms foods like peach salsa and pepper jelly as well as wines including the Steampunk cider from Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

We go right for the specialty apples in the apple barn. Lyoaken also offers u-pick options.

If you really want to make a day, this apple trip passes by several wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail, like The Winery at Marjim Manor (7171 East Lake Road, Appleton) and 810 Meadworks (113 W. Center St.) in Medina.

Your guide to the full cider experience in WNY

Here are more places for U-pick apples and more:

Baker Farm Market & U-Pick
2100 Youngstown Lockport Road, Ransomville
Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Cash only; 791-3440

Becker Farms
3724 Quaker Road, Gasport
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 772-2211
U-pick apples, a bakery and Becker Brewing/Vizcarra Vineyards. The family-friendly Pumpkin Fiesta, Becker Mountain and The Whole Hot events with food and music, runs noon to 6 p.m. weekends only through the end of October.

Blackman Homestead Farms 
4472 Thrall Road, Lockport
Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31; 434-7116
In addition to bagged and u-pick apples, you’ll find locally produced items like cider maple syrup, honey, fruit butters, apple sauces and concord grape pie filling.

Hurd Orchards
17260 Ridge Road, Holley
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; 585-638-8838
Not only can you pick and buy interesting apples, on weekends Hurd serves delicious slices of apple pie and chicken pot pie. The market store is filled with jams, jellies and preserved fruits along with gift items.

Smith’s Orchard & Cider Mil
4960 Maple Road, Pendleton
Apple cider, cider slushies and doughnuts and apple picking, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; 625-4316

Stonehill Orchard
2365 Shirley Road, North Collins
Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Apple picking in "muddy" condition, no dogs. Call 337-2380 for varieties.


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