Nothing says fall like an apple orchard outing! The season’s crisp temperatures make it a lovely time to be outdoors, and apple picking is an activity that all ages will enjoy. Fresh apples can be both a healthy snack and a central ingredient in many tasty recipes.
In Vermont, pick-your-own opportunities are offered by a number of orchards. Whether your family’s favorite is Red Delicious (the top variety in the United States) or McIntosh (the top variety in Vermont), you’ll find these traditional favorites plus many interesting antique and heirloom varieties in our small state. Crisp, juicy, tart, sweet … what’s your pleasure?
A few tips for your orchard visit:
- Take a look at orchard websites. Orchard websites often offer specific guidance related to picking and updates on what’s available, as different varieties mature at different times. The website may also list special events or apple products like cider or donuts for sale.
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Apple orchards can have uneven terrain and long grass, so sturdy shoes or boots that support your feet are a good idea. Tall socks or long pants can protect your legs from insects and rough greenery. Depending on your picking day’s weather, sunglasses and a hat might be advisable, too.
- Think about packing a few extra items. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the orchard, bring a bottle of water and snacks or a picnic lunch. Picnics are generally welcome at orchards, just remember to pack out any trash. Hand wipes are also recommended, as restroom facilities may be limited to a seasonal portable toilet.
- Bring a kid carrier backpack if you have a small child. They can tire easily walking from tree to tree. If you have a sturdy wagon, you could check with the orchard to see if you can bring it. Some orchards provide wagons at the entry point for their customers’ use.
- Apple picking etiquette. Pick your apples gently with a slight twist to reduce any damage to the tree branch. If an apple drops to the ground while you’re picking, it’s fine to add that one to your bag or box as it likely has sustained little damage in its fall. Please don’t taste and toss; typically orchards are small ventures and tasting and tossing wastes their valuable produce.
Once you’ve returned home, keep your apples cool to extend their fresh flavor. Some apple lovers claim that leaving the stem on helps the apples keep longer – you could experiment for yourself and see!
It’s very easy to get caught up in the fun of picking and arrive home with lots more apples than you planned for. Lucky for you, there are many, many delicious recipes incorporating apples. Recipe developer and Vermont resident Katie Price Webster shares a few on her blog Healthy Seasonal Recipes. Don’t miss the fall-hearty Roasted Potatoes with sausage, apples and maple mustard glaze. Or make your freshly picked apples a sweet ending to your meal with Katie’s Apple Pie Ice Cream with Salted Honey Caramel Sauce.
Happy apple picking!
Celebrate Vermont’s tradition of apple harvesting at Smugglers’ AppleFest September 23-30. 2015. AppleFest includes complimentary shuttle transportation to local orchards for pick-your-own fun, hard and sweet cider tastings from Vermont’s award-winning cideries, apple themed walks and more.