Steppin’ Out – High Hill Ranch, Apple Hill

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the new Blueberry Donuts at High Hill Ranch and that I hoped to go back and check out the food, of which there is quite a selection. Well, a couple of Fridays ago I did just that, again, just to check out the food.

Even though it was a weekday, it was very busy, so after I found a parking place among the apple trees, I went looking for my friend and contact there, Jerry Visman.

I looked in the office, the Apple Barn, Pie Shop and even wandered by the huge number of crafts people, but couldn’t find him. In fact, nobody seemed to know where he was.

I thought about heading back to my car and trying another day, when I saw him directing what appeared to be a never-ending line of cars coming in to their ranch. He was easy to notice, since he had on a yellow shirt emblazoned with “Cat Herder,” an appropriate name for his job that day.

While he directed cars, busses and vans to various parking locations with his well-worn red flag, I took the opportunity to talk with him about the food they serve.

“We try to find the best food for our restaurants,” he said between directing cars. “We believe our visitors deserve the best, so we get the best.”

“Our tri-tip sandwich is the big seller,” he told me. “We get the tri-tip from Swingle Meats in Jackson already marinated. It is so tender and delicious that people tell us they used to come here for the donuts, but now they come for the tri-tip.

“We also added a Wagyu beef (think Kobe beef, but American) burger to our menu that is fantastic, You really have to try one. I always get the double, it is double good. Or, you might like our Polish Sausages. They are big and delicious.

“We buy large chickens for the barbecued chicken we serve in the Apple Barn. You can get a half or a whole to share and, if you are not that hungry, our Chicken Salad Sandwich is very popular.

“Speaking of salads, they are all from scratch. It really makes a difference.”

He paused for a few minutes while he talked to the rest of the parking crew by radio, trying to figure out if they should open up another row of parking spaces between the trees for the endless line of cars that continued to turn into their driveway.

“Because of the crowds and shuttle issues on weekends, the number of Friday and Monday visitors is getting bigger,” he continued. “If we get a break in the traffic, I’ll buy you a tri-tip or burger, but it looks like it will be a while.”

A few minutes later an employee named Alice came by in one of their many golf carts. She was heading towards the kitchen, so he stopped her and said, “When you get to the Pie House, please make us a couple of tri-tip sandwiches and drive them back to us. We’re going to be here a while and we are getting hungry.”

While we anxiously waited for our lunch, he continued. “Let’s see, our chili is also made from scratch using our own recipe. That you don’t find everywhere. And, something that will really surprise you is that we make our own caramel for our apples. You can buy that in a can, but we always want to do the best we can do. We have our own secret recipe for that.

“Our pies tins are bigger and deeper than most. It is an added cost, but worth it. Many pies you buy are in 9 inch shallow pans. Not ours. We use a ten inch, deep dish pan. More pie!

“You know about the donuts and fritters, but recently we added turnovers. They are really flaky and you can get them in the Pie Shop, but only on weekends.”

About that time Alice came back with our two tri-tip sandwiches and two soft drinks.

I had tried their tri-tip a year ago, and was not impressed. I had told Jerry and he said they were getting new ovens so that the meat didn’t overcook while sitting. That was the problem before, but now the problem had been solved.

Fortunately there was a break in traffic so Jerry could join me in the shade to have lunch.

I was very surprised and delighted with the tri-tip. Now it was moist, delicious and nearly fall-apart tender. Perfect for a sandwich.
It came naked on the roll except for a drizzle of barbecue sauce, which I found did not overpower the meat, which by itself was, as I said before, outstanding.

“I usually leave off the sauce,” Jerry said, “since I like the taste of the meat so much. The marinade Swingle uses is the best.”

I really had to agree. I have never had tri-tip that tender and delicious and I have eaten a lot of tri-tip over the years. I may drive down to Swingle Meats to see what else they have.

In addition to what I have already mentioned, they also serve a Turkey sandwich, Grilled Cheese, a Veggie burger and a whole lot more. You can choose from a dozen different kinds of pies, many baked or unbaked. They also have sugar-free Apple pies and even apple cake. Most are also available by the slice. I personally like Dutch Apple or Sour Cream Apple.

Don’t forget the donuts they make fresh throughout the day, the Apple Fritters and the famous Caramel Apples. Also, apple juice and cider.
Oh, don’t forget it is an apple ranch, so they have a lot of different varieties of apples, with changes in the varieties as they ripen on the tree.

These are real crisp apples, local and freshly picked, not something that has been is cold storage for several months.

Okay, almost finished. Trout fishing, pony rides, hay rides, more crafts people and any other location in Apple Hill and excitement for kids of all ages. They are also available for field trips, weddings, picnics and events. Give them a call.

High Hill Ranch is open from mid-August through Christmas Eve, from 8 until 5, Monday through Friday and 7 until 6 on weekends. For more information you can call (530) 644-1973 or visit their webpage at

I really gotta go back and have one of their burgers and maybe a bowl of chili.

By the way, Jerry told me the crowds thin out about the last week in October, so take a trip to High Hill Ranch and/or the other Apple Hill Growers businesses. We are lucky to have this opportunity so near to us.

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