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  Season 8 - Episode 810

Mother Lode Orchard

Mother Lode Orchard

Mother Lode Orchard

Mother Lode Orchard

Mother Lode Orchard

  Mother Lode Orchard

It's a lesser-known gem along the Apple Hill trail…it's called Mother Lode Orchard. This sixty-acre farm and store offers an array of fresh winter fruits, veggies, tasty homemade jams and ciders. Dick and Arlene Bethell help run the operation and love to welcome visitors.

Dick started growing apples at the orchard in the early sixties, pouring his heart and soul into the operation. And like most farmers he's endured many hardships along the way, but giving up was never an option. Says Dick, "I've invested too much of myself, mostly time, to give up on it until we can get over the top. But it has been a joy to see the evolution."

The whole Apple Hill region has evolved from a farming community to a real tourist destination. And according to Dick that popularity will ensure the land remains in agriculture. "We've managed to have enough success with Apple Hill to keep it in agriculture for a long time hopefully forever," said Dick.

Dick started out growing Golden Delicious apples and has added an array of new varieties like Gala, Braeburn, Fuji and Empire. The apple season usually runs late July through mid-October. And the apples grown here are made into everything from apple butter to apple cider.

At Mother Lode Orchards you'll find everything from fresh pears to pumpkins, potatoes and squash. And some of that produce ends up in a selection of unique jams like a pear-raspberry combo called "Praz" and a popular Burgundy Cherry sauce. The farm is open to the public from late August into the third week of December.

Arlene Bethell enjoys coming up with new ways to use the farm's bounty. Including this recipe for a delicious butternut squash and roasted garlic bisque.

Butternut Squash & Roasted Garlic Bisque Recipe

2 whole heads of garlic/halved crosswise
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 cups chopped onion
¾ cups chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into one-inch pieces
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Rub cut surfaces of garlic with oil. Put halves back together to resemble heads. Wrap each tightly in foil; bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let garlic cool in foil.

Mix butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery: sauté until onions begin to soften, about five minutes. Add squash, broth and 2 tablespoons sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered until squash is tender; about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, unwrap garlic. Squeeze from skins into small bowl and discard skins. Mash garlic with fork until smooth.

Stir garlic into soup. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Stir in ½ cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to tureen. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of cream. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon of sage.

For more information on Mother Lode Orchard visit:






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