Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For Apple Picking

It's prime time for apple picking in northern New England. The kids and I have had a lot of fun reading some of the books I posted in a previous blog and we learned interesting facts about the history of apples and apples today. For example, did you know that the leading state for apple production -- by FAR -- is Washtington state? A distant 2nd is New York and then the great, state of Michigan (where I grew up.) In fact, the apple blossom is Michigan's state flower.

Here's another one: The most popular apple is the Red Delicious. (Good -- that's my favorite!)

We all know who Johnny Appleseed is -- he was born in MA, but he spent most of his life planting and cultivating apple trees in the Ohio Valley and many of the apple trees there today are descendants of his.

New England isn't slack in the apple department either. In fact, states on both coasts are great apple producers. Around here, you will mostly find Cortlands and MacIntosh. My family is happy about that (they do not share my love for Red Delicious.) For them, the more tart the better -- and since "Macs" ripen earlier than other varieties (and fall and winter come sooner here), we decided that a sunny, September Saturday was perfect timing.

We head across the Connecticut River into Vermont (since it is the closest large apple orchard to us.):

Most of the apple trees there are of the dwarf variety -- perfect for climbing!

Like most orchards, they let you eat as many as you want on the go. My kids can't get enough. They wonder about all the apples on the ground and I inform them that they will be used to feed animals, make cider, and for applesauce.
It's fun to look for an orchard that offers a little bit more for the kiddies. Some have cider mills, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches, but this one is a little more old-fashioned. Here, the kids enjoy the petting zoo (full of cows, deer, goats, chickens, rabbits, and other small, farm animals.)

Not surprisingly you will also find loads of pumpkins and other vegetables. Harvest is in!

A must for apple picking is the ability to buy apple cider donuts. If they don't have 'em, we don't go! It's a once-a-year treat . . . fresh donuts, hot from the fryer (your choice, plain or sugar -- I prefer plain.) Mmmmmm . . . look at the grease on that bag!

And like many public farms and orchards in our rural area, you will find a country store with home-town goodies and souvenirs.

If you are one of those rare folk who do not want to bother trampling through the trees and up the hills in order to fill a bushel full yourself, you can always purchase pre-packaged bags (and still enjoy being at the orchard.)
If you are used to grabbing the apple sales at the grocery store this time of year, I encourage you to consider your local orchard instead. If you are in a mind to make pies, tarts, applesauce, cider, or other apple goodies, you can't go wrong picking the apples right off the tree (bruise-free) and the prices are usually pretty comparable as well.

Don't miss out on this fall ritual. (September is prime time for the northeast and other parts north; October is better in other areas.) You can start here or do a search in your area for orchards. If you have kids, they are bound to relish in the simple fun and the opportunity to get out into the crisp air and you will find memories and traditions to last a lifetime.


Jakki said...

I really love Fuji and Gala apples. Crisp and slightly tart. Looks like a lovely day! Can't wait til we go apple picking.

Dauphyfan said...

We have been going to a local orchard for years now. Though they don't allow the public to pick from their trees, they offer plenty of other goodies to do. They also sell the best Honeycrisp apples, my favorite! They have a pumpkin patch too, so we'll be heading over there in the next week or two.