Fall to many North Carolinians means a trip to the mountains for leaf peeping, cider drinking and apple picking.
If all you truly crave is North Carolina apples, you only have to travel as far as your local farmers market.
For the next three weeks, you will see an abundance of early season, fresh-picked North Carolina apples from Gala to Honeycrisp. And you can continue to get your fill well into January, because many home-grown varieties, from Arkansas Black to Stayman Winesap, store well and will still be available at the markets.
North Carolina is among the 10 top apple-producing states, and 85 percent of the state's $24 million crop is grown in Henderson County, just south of Asheville. This year's crop was battered by hail, heat and in some places, moderate drought.
The apples that you'll be seeing at the market are, therefore, smaller and have a higher sugar content, said Jack Ruff, the industry's marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
"The apples just taste better this year," he said.
That's good news for apple aficionados. And to help feed their affection, we've compiled a list of those varieties you're likely to see at the market through year's end, shared some tasting notes and indicated which ones are better for eating or cooking.
To us, the only way to enjoy fall is to eat an apple.