If you have a sweet tooth, be certain to stop at Liberty Orchards (117 Mission St., 509/782-2191, www.libertyorchards.com, Apr.–Dec. Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Jan.–Mar. Mon.–Fri. 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.), the home of Aplets and Cotlets. These all-natural confections are made of fruit juices (apple, grape, and apricot) and walnuts and are coated with powdered sugar and cornstarch. Tours take 15 minutes or so and end back in the gift shop, where you can sample a number of different candies and purchase gift boxes and various knickknacks.
The original sweets were developed by two Armenian immigrants, Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian, who had established fruit orchards in the Cashmere area. Unable to sell all the fruit they produced, they decided to mix apple juice and walnuts to make a Middle Eastern confection called locum.
More than 75 years have passed, but the candy is still made in Cashmere (two million pounds a year), and the company president is a grandson of the original owners. Old standbys such as Aplets and Cotlets are still around, along with several dozen other varieties, from chocolate passion fruit to sugar-free, nut-free versions. On weekends you aren’t likely to see a lot of activity in the plant during a tour, but the free samples make any stop worthwhile.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition