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Katie's Cucina

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards – Washington State

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

Back in September, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington State to learn all about apples. Not just any apples. Apples grown at Broetje Family Orchards owners of  First Fruits; specifically the Opal® brand apple (among all the other varieties the family grows). I was accompanied by Kevin from Closet Cooking, Lindsay and Bjork from Pinch of Yum, and my dear friend Leslie from The Hungry Housewife.

Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

In just three short days, during my visit to Prescott Washington, we toured some of the 6,000+ acre farm the Broetje family owns. We learned the story of how the orchard came to life first hand from Ralph and Cheryl Broetje. Ralph and Cheryl are amazing entrepreneurs, philanthropist, and all-around humble and caring people.

Ralph Broetje

(Founder, Ralph Broetje pictured above)

“Broetje Orchards was founded by Ralph and Cheryl Broetje in 1967 and has grown to become one of the largest privately owned and operated orchards in the country.  Based on the founding dream to help those in need, and a servant leadership philosophy to empower others, 50% of profits are invested annually to further our mission of “bearing fruit that will last.”  One of the most recent ventures, Ralph and Cheryl have gotten into is a new variety of apple!

Broetje Orchards Opal Apple

(compliments to my lovely hand model, Leslie from The Hungry Housewife)

The Opal® apple was discovered in Europe in 1999. The Opal apple was bred naturally (meaning non-GMO). The non-browning characteristics in Opal were discovered by chance, when Topaz and Golden Delicious were cross-bred, creating Opal. Cross-breeding is a traditional and natural method for creating new varieties. Browning is caused by a specific enzyme in apples which cause apple flesh to discolor when exposed to oxygen. Opal has a naturally low occurrence of this enzyme, thus slowing the browning process when cut.

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

In March of 2010, Opal® brand apple made its debut appearance in the United States grown exclusively by Ralph Broetje, Broetje Orchards in Washington State. Opal® Brand apple is being marketed and distributed exclusively in North America by FirstFruits Marketing of Washington.

Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards - Washington State from KatiesCucina.com

The Opal® brand apple variety has been praised for its bright yellow color accented with natural russeting at the stem, but is recognized above all for offering a distinctively crunchy texture and sweet and tangy flavor.  In addition to its great taste, Opal® apple doesn’t brown after slicing so it is perfect for snacking and lunches! Seriously, this apple is delicious. Its crisp and refreshing and best of all is low oxidizing, so it takes a while for it to brown!

I created a quick video from my trip to Broetje Orchards. It will give you an idea of how the apple process goes from start to finish. Unfortunately, Opal Apples were not in season when we were there, so you will see other varieties of apples in the packing facility.

Broetje Orchards 6

Here are a few more photos from my trip. The rain finally stopped giving us time to get all the way on top of the orchard and check out the view from above. It was cold and the wind was whipping. The view was breath taking!

Broetje Orchards 2

Apples were everywhere and couldn’t help but snapping photos of them unwashed in their bins before they made it to the packing facility. I love this photo… I think I want to frame it and hang it in my kitchen to remind me daily how are food gets to us!

Broetje Orchards 5

This is probably one of my favorite photos of the trip, and best of all… it was snapped on my iPhone. You would never know! This was back when I was able to zip up my jacket. Sadly, this jacket does not zip any more. I was 14 weeks with an itty-bitty baby bump!
Broetje Orchards 3

Keith, who works for FirstFruits Marketing shared many stories with us. He was holding this apple as he explained about the variety and I felt compelled to photograph it in his hand.

Broetje Orchards 7

I was one of the few who volunteered to try to pick apples. Let me tell you first hand, its hard work. Don’t think that anyone can do it. Its back breaking and there is an art to picking apples without bruising the apple or hurting the tree it rest in. I picked maybe a dozen and I officially retired! The workers will climb tall ladders and work until their bag is completely full. Then climb down the ladder, and carefully empty their bag by releasing the toggles in the middle of the bag (see photo above). Fun fact, when I sent this photo to my parents to tell them I was having a great time I immediately got a phone call and a scolding about how I shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy. I informed them that I had maybe a dozen apples in the bag… the  baby and me were not in any harm!

So are you interested and wondering what the Opal really tastes like? Your in luck! It’s Opal season! Interested in trying this new variety of apple? Check out the locator to see what stores in your state are carrying the Opal® brand apple!

Make sure you like Opal Apples on Facebook. Every week now through the end of February, they will be picking one fan to receive free Opal apples! All you have to do is like a post, comment, share, whatever tickles your fancy for a chance to win!

Read other Broetje Orchards recaps:
Opal Apples. More Than Just The Apple. from The Hungry Housewife

And now you know about Opal Apples from Pinch of Yum

Disclaimer: FirstFruits Marketing flew me out to Washington. I was not required nor compensated to post about my experience. I love the brand and wanted to share their story and my trip with my readers. As always all opinions are my own. 

   

10 Responses to “Opal Apples at Broetje Orchards – Washington State”

  1. Leslie posted on January 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm (#)

    Love your recap! And the video captured all of it so well!!!

    • Katie replied on January 5th, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Thanks Leslie! I’m so glad we got to travel together to Washington!

  2. Tonia posted on January 6, 2014 at 10:22 am (#)

    What a fun time! We love visiting the apple orchards every fall here in Minnesota…and now I am craving an apple!

    • Katie replied on January 7th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks Tonia! It was eye opening to learn about the process and see how much the Broetje family gives back! Amazing people!

  3. Susan Langsley posted on February 22, 2014 at 9:37 pm (#)

    Very excited about the new Opal apples–for sale at Trader Joes in Redmond!!! I guessed that they were a cross between Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp, and I was half right anyway: Golden Delicious and Topaz I found out per your website. Wow!
    Anyway, they are fantastic, thank you!

    • Katie replied on February 24th, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Jealous you have them by you. I have to drive over an hour away to get my hands on the Opals! Hoping when our Trader Joe’s opens in July that they will carry them!

  4. David curry posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:48 am (#)

    Where can I buy yellow and red opal apple trees? Do you sell them? Thanks. Can’t find your phone number.

    • Katie replied on June 20th, 2014 at 7:07 am

      I do not sell opal apple trees nor can you buy them yet in the United States. The Broetje Orchards has a 20 year patent on the trees. You can buy the apples when they are in season from November – February.

  5. Ri:hard Vilog posted on October 28, 2014 at 10:05 pm (#)

    Can Opals be purchased by mail, shipped to my address, I can’t drive very well because of a handicap. Please let me know Thanks Richard Vilog

    • Katie replied on October 30th, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Hi–unfortunately at this time you cannot purchase Opals by mail.

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