Did you know that over 20 different varieties of apples are grown on 16,000 acres in Ontario?
This includes early varietals like the ginger gold (swoon!), heavy-hitters like the Honeycrisp and modern miracles like the Red Prince — a variety that’s aged in oxygen-less rooms for months after harvest, making it crisp in February when other varieties have gone mealy.
The province’s major apple-producing areas are spread along the shores of the southern most Great Lakes and Georgian Bay… home of the Apple Pie Trail! These large, deep bodies of water help moderate temperatures, which makes their shores an ideal place to grow apples — especially pie apples.
The old wives tale may be that Spy’s are best for pies, but there are plenty of other apples to try. Some apples will create a saucier filling, while others hold there shape and make an excellent base from crumble topping.
The Tried-And-True, Ontario Spy
This large, yellow and red-streaked apple is crisp and juicy but has a high level of acidity. It’s one of the few varieties that’s actually better suited to baking than eating raw.
Very sweet and mildly tart, similar to Granny Smith. It becomes almost pear-like in flavor when it cooks. In a pie, it manages to soften fully while still retaining a good deal of texture, due to its density.
Sweet, tart, and almost buttery in flavour and texture when cooked. When baked, it softens and doesn’t retain much of it’s shape, but it’s flavour is superior.
This big, beautiful variety is very high in sugars and retainers it’s texture even when cooked. It’s a good bet if you want a tall, sauce-less pie.
Knowing this, we start to plan our annual road trip to the Blue Mountains at the very first sighting of red leaves each fall. Between the colours, the crisp apples pulled straight from the tree and the invasion of autumn ingredients onto menus, it’s the perfect place to unwind over pie. Here are our favorite pieces of pie along Ontario’s favorite apple themed adventure!
Best-Ever Slices of Pie in Apple County
Black Bird Pie Company
There’s plenty of option at this adorable bakery. There’s only four seats out front, but they’re always full with a rotating roster of pie lovers. The filling is saucy, the apples super soft and the crust extra flakey. If you ask really nicely, the stuff will serve it up with whipped cream or classic orange cheddar.
Thornbury Bakery Cafe
This pie is for the crumble top lovers. The filling is dense and firm, perfect for holding up the crunchy, cinnamon scented crumble. It’s not too sweet, but can be served ‘a la mode’ if you’re craving the extra hit of sugar. Also, for all you grab and go enthusiasts — Thornbury Bakery usually keeps the freezer stocked with a nice variety of their delicious pies.
Giffen’s Apple Orchard
Glen Huron, Ontario
This country store and orchard presses their own cider, grills a mean peameal sandwich and above all, bakes a really classic apple pie. The crust is buttery, the filling is a perfect balance of sauce and fruit, and the locals are always up for sharing stories over lunch. This is where your countryside-pie dreams become a reality.
For more delicious apple-themed adventures, head on up to The Blue Mountains and explore the Apple Pie Trail.>