Leaves are falling, temperatures are cooling, and pumpkin spice products are everywhere you turn in the grocery store. This can only mean one thing: fall is finally here!
That’s right, it’s time to dress up in your flannel plaids, gather your family and friends, and head out to a local orchard for a fun-filled day of apple picking. So, here are seven apple picking tips that will help make your trip to the orchard a huge success.
7 Apple Picking Tips
1) The Closest Orchard Isn’t Always The Best OrchardFor You To Visit
September to early October is peak apple picking time for most parts of the United States. To find an orchard near you, all you have to do is check out this directory that lists all of the apple orchards in each state.
New York (282 orchards), Michigan (180 orchards), Ohio (147 orchards), and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (both with 125 orchards) are the states with the most apple orchard options to choose from, while Hawaii and Florida (one orchard each), Delaware and Nevada (both with two orchards), and Alaska, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (three orchards each) are the states with the fewest number of apple orchards. That said, if you live in one of the states that doesn’t have a whole lot of apple orchards to choose from, you can still take a trip to one of the states that has a lot of orchards and go apple picking there this fall.
Once you find an orchard to visit, check the orchard’s website or call ahead to make sure that it is in fact a U-Pick apple orchard in which you and your kids can pick the apples off of the trees yourselves. Since not all apple orchards are run the same way, you might also want to ask the orchard you’re planning on visiting whether it’s organic or not. And while you’re on the phone or researching, you might as well find out the types of apples that the orchard has to choose from at the moment.
Remember, the closest orchard isn’t always the best orchard for you and your family and friends to visit. If you have to travel a few more miles to an orchard that checks all of your boxes, it may very well be worth it.
2.Arrive Early In The Day To Beat The Crowds
Peak apple picking times at orchards are typically between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. So, if you want to avoid crowds or lines, it’s usually best to get to the orchard early in the morning. And if you’re able to go apple picking on a weekday, chances are that the orchard will be less crowded then, as well.
3.The Art Of SelectingRipe Apples
Apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center. This means that apples on the outer branches will ripen first. So, work your way in as the season progresses. And since apples stop ripening as soon as they’re picked, for the best taste make sure that the fruit is ripe before you pick it.
How do you know when an apple is ripe? It should be crisp and firm. You can also ask the farmer which apples are ripe, too. The farmer will know because it’s calculated from the number of days since the trees flowered. Also, avoid picking bruised apples since they rot faster and will cause your other apples to rot, as well.
4. TheProper Way To Pick An Apple From A Tree
Apples are one of the easiest fruits to pick. All you have to do is roll the apple upwards off the branch and give it a little twist. Try not to pull the apple straight away from the tree and don’t shake the trees or branches either.
Shaking the branches can lead to a lot of apples falling to the ground, which can give the fruit major bruises. And as we already know, bruised apples rot faster. Therefore, this can lead to unnecessary food waste. So, if the apple you’re trying to pick drops, or other apples on the tree drop while you’re picking your apple, go ahead and pick those apples up. They’re fine to eat as long as you wash them before you eat them. That said, avoid picking apples that are already on the ground since there’s a good chance that they’re either bruised from an earlier fall or are infested with bugs.
5.How To Make The Apples You Pick Last Longer
Right after you pick apples from a tree, place them gently in your basket. If you throw your apples into the basket, you run the risk of bruising them, which will lead to your apples going bad quicker. It’s also important not to wash your apples until right before you’re planning on using them in order to prevent spoilage. And to increase the shelf life of your apples, store them in a cool place like your basement or in the fruit/vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.
6.Take Advantage Of All The Fun Activities At The Orchard
At some apple orchards, there are a number of family-friendly activities that you can do in addition to picking apples. So, take advantage of them and go on the hay or wagon rides with your kids, try to navigate your way out of corn mazes, and see if your kids can name all of the animals at the farm.
7.Different ThingsYou Can Do With All The Apples You Picked
Not sure what to do with all the apples that you picked? To ensure that they won’t go to waste, consider hosting an apple pie baking cook-off with your neighbors using the apples that you picked, make homemade applesauce with your little ones, or incorporate apples into your lunches and dinners all week long. You can also share the apples that you picked with your family and friends.
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