LA CROSSE, EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Ferguson’s Orchards puts passion and preparation into growing its apples.
First News at Nine’s Bob Gallaher takes a look inside their kitchen to see the production behind some of their tasty treats that are a trademark for their family farm.
“One of the things that we knew right when we started, we not only wanted everyone’s experience here to be great but also the actual food and products that they were taking home. So, everything from our apples, to our caramel apples to the donuts, it’s real important to us that they are made fresh and you are getting direct from the source, the best fresh stuff that you can.”
For the past decade, Ferguson’s five apple orchards have been a destination for families throughout western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.
With 30 types of apples to choose from, a corn maze, farm animals, pumpkin patch and more, the Ferguson family opens their operation to the public every fall.
“There’s a lot that goes into growing the perfect apple, and creating the perfect fall experience as a family, so we put a lot of passion and effort into that. The process of growing apples in order to get them really perfect to where they end of ultimately in someone’s refrigerator or one of our delicious caramel apples or apple cider is really time-consuming. It’s really fun and rewarding thing to grow apples and seeing them really in the span of a few months go from a flower into a fully, mature apple”
“We do have a pretty top-secret recipe here at Ferguson’s.”
It’s that apple cider which is the key ingredient in Ferguson’s mouth-watering cider donuts.
So, how popular are those donuts? Last year, 150,000 were made and sold right here on the farm.
Because of that high demand, the Fergusons built a brand-new kitchen to maximize how many donuts they can make.
“How the donut machine works, we start with the batter that has our own secret mix of recipes including our famous apple cider. Once the batter is in the hopper, the plunger basically pushes out that stereotypical donut shape. and it’s not until it goes halfway through the machine as it’s frying on the bottom then you’ll see it flip over and it’s frying the other side. By the time it gets ejected, it’s basically fully cooked. From there, we have a small staging area and we by hand coat every donut with our cinnamon sugar mix that is really delicious.”
Ferguson’s other specialty are caramel apples. They sold 50 to 60,000 last year alone.
“One of things that we take pride in making all of them by hand. There are machines that do them in the bigger facilities, but we like the made fresh on the farm daily
Andy says it’s their honey crisp apples that provide the tantalizing flavor that appeals to people’s taste buds.
“Whether it’s in cider or eating apples, a mixture of sweet and tart is very popular and that’s one of the reasons why honey crisp is one of our most popular. When we’re having apple cider made with our apples we definitely have a variety from honey crisp, to Cortland, to macintosh.
With more than 300-thousand apple trees among their five orchards, Ferguson believes the Chippewa valley offers a haven for apple lovers young and old.
“People like having something like this available, not only a place to have fun, spend time with your family, and get outside in the fall but also to learn and see where your food is coming from and meet your farmers. It’s really important to the people and we’re happy to be here to provide that.”
“Passion for growing things is definitely a necessity for any type of farming with all the different stressors that you deal with. I think one of the most rewarding things for us and our family is in the fall when we’re able to open up to the community, is seeing people having fun in our backyard.”
That was Bob Gallaher reporting.
There’s still time to check out Ferguson’s orchards and try those yummy apple cider donuts and caramel apples.
Ferguson’s is open through Sunday, November 7th.
Open 10 am until 6 pm daily.