Are you looking for a fun, family-friendly activity to get you and the kiddos outside this fall?
Look no further than your nearest orchard for apple picking! This outing can be enjoyed by family members of all ages, gives you an excuse to break out the flannel plaids or cardigans you’ve been eying since the first hint of cool weather, provides an opportunity for cute family pics, and gives you tons of apples for eating, baking, canning, and turning into cider. Not sure where to go for apple picking? Try Googling apple farms or apple festivals near you, or check out this list from Taste of Home, which lists the best place to go apple picking in every state. You can also check this orchard database from Orange Pippin to find farms near your home.
Are you new to apple picking?
We’ve made this adventure easy for you with a list of 10 tips for a successful outing:
Plan Your Trip
It would be a real bummer to get the whole family ready and arrive at the farm just to realize that they are closed for the day or that the type of apples you want to pick aren’t in season. Check the orchard’s website or give them a call to verify their business hours, see what apples are in season, determine what you should bring with you, and find out if they are a cash-only business. Peak times at orchards are 12-4 on weekends, so consider planning a morning or weekday trip to get a calmer experience. If you have little ones and plan on spending a half or full day at the orchard, think about bringing a stroller or wagon, so they don’t get tuckered out.
Pack a Snack
Are you going to be at the orchard over lunch or snack time? Be sure to find out if they sell food and drinks or if you should pack a picnic and water bottles. If you need a caffeine boost on your way to the orchard, consider driving through Starbucks for their new Apple Crisp Macchiato to get you in the mood for your apple picking trip.
Dress for Success
Look at the weather before you go, so you have rain boots, umbrellas, jackets, or whatever you need to be comfortable, and plan to have everyone wear close-toed shoes for safety. Fall weather can be unpredictable, so consider sunscreen, bug repellant, and extra layers to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable day.
Pick the Best Fruit
Skip the apples on the ground, even if your kiddos are tempted by them, as they are often already snacks for wasps and other insects. Apples won’t continue to ripen once picked, so ask someone from the orchard to direct you to the trees that are ready to pick. Start picking from the lower outer limbs first, as these fruits ripen earlier than the ones close to the tree’s trunk.
Use a gentle “twist-and-pull” method to carefully remove the apple from the tree. Don’t shake the tree limbs or try to yank the apples from the branches; explain to your kiddos that we need to be kind to the tree so it can keep growing more fruit and demonstrate how to gently take apples off the branches.
Wait to Taste
Regardless of whether you go to an organic orchard or not, it’s best to avoid eating apples straight from the tree. Most orchards recommend that you wash the fruit at home before enjoying it, so remind any kids with you that they can pick the apples now and task them later.
Store with Care
Bruised apples rot quickly and damage the apples around them, so be careful to only put unbruised apples in your bag/bushel. Handle the apples with care as you put them into your container to avoid creating bruises.
Enjoy Bonus Activities
Many orchards have additional activities for families to enjoy, like hayrides, cider pressing, petting zoos, live music, corn mazes, and more. Consider spending extra time at the orchard to share these experiences, or plan to come back another day for extra activities!
Refrigerate for Extra Time
Store your apples in the cold crisper drawer of the fridge to help them last longer, and don’t wash them before refrigerating, as dry apples stay fresh longer. Apples release ethylene gas that causes other fruits to ripen quickly, so it’s best to keep them away from other fruits. Depending on the variety, apples should keep for about two months in the refrigerator. Check them weekly for signs of bruising or rotting, and remove those starting to go bad.
Enjoy Your Bounty
A bushel of apples weighs about 45 lbs. and has 85-95 apples in it, which means you have lots of fruit to use up! Depending on the types of apples you picked and the recipes that your family enjoys, you can make dozens of recipes ranging from baked goods to apple sauce and apple pie filling, fresh cider, dried apple chips, and more. Check out this collection of 80 recipes from Delish for fresh ideas to savor this fall!
Does your family have tips, traditions, or recipes related to fall apple picking? We’d love to hear them! Comment on this post to share your great ideas.