Autumn is symbolized by many things and activities, one activity being apple picking. Apple picking season runs from late August to late October. Many orchards suggest the best time to go apple picking is mid-September. Every couple weeks a new set of varieties are ripe and ready to pick. When you have a free weekend, grab your grandkids, find an orchard nearby (pickyourown.org is a great resource), and spend the day savoring the fall sunshine while you play fun games and enjoy a seasonal snack.
Many orchards offer fun activities for you to do during your visits. You can go on a hay ride or walking tour through the orchard. The children can often play on playgrounds or pet animals at the orchard’s farm. Oftentimes, orchards will have festivals for fall and the apple harvest. To see what’s available at your local orchard, call ahead or google them for more information.
Take a break from the harvest for a pickin’ picnic. Pack a simple lunch of sandwiches, chips, juice, and eat some of the apples you picked. For many, the best part of going to the orchard is eating your pickings. After picking apples, place an empty basket about twenty feet away from a basket full of apples. Have a race—see how fast the kids can transfer apples to the empty basket with a large wooden spoon. Or have the kids guess how many apples they picked, and then have them count how many they did pick. Whoever is closest gets a prize. Everyone enjoys bobbing for apples, but this year try something new. Tie string loops onto apple stems and then fish for them with a stick, some twine, or wires.
When you go to the orchard, make sure you know what you are looking for. If it’s been rainy, apples lose flavor. Also, know what flavors of apples are grown in your area. Some apple varieties are specific to certain regions of the country. Knowing what apples grow in your area will help you pick the right fruit to use for cooking later.
Varieties like gala, McIntosh, Jonathon, Golden delicious, Jonaclicious, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Melrose, Stayman Winesap, Pink Lady, and Fuji are all good for making applesauce, pies, juice, cider, and butter—which are all great for this time of year.
Here is an easy recipe from the Food Network for applesauce:
What you will need:
-6 apples (they suggest McIntosh)
-1 cup water
-1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
-1 tsp sugar
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters. Place them in an enamel sauce pan with the water and lemon juice then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down slightly and simmer 30 minutes to break the apples down and get them to thicken. Take off the heat and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
Apple pie and apple turnovers are a great fall treat, and the internet. There are tons of recipes available on the internet for both. For a more grown-up apple treat, try apple pie moonshine. All you’ll need is some homemade apple juice and your favorite kind of grain alcohol (most recipes suggest Everclear).
Apple picking is a fun activity for kids and adults alike. It’s an adventure that will last all weekend long.