Ah, September. If you live in a climate like we have in the Northeast, you're likely getting some cooler and milder temperatures right about now. And after the summer we had, can I get an "Amen!"? One of our favorite things about fall, besides the cooler temps, changing leaves and good hair days, is apple picking. There's about a one-month window where all the orchards here have rows upon rows of Golden Delicious, Empire, Cortland, Granny Smith and more. It's not only fun to do with kids, it's a great way to support your local farms, get outside and of course, an excuse to bake apple pie. So Brian and I want to give you our take on this awesome fall pastime.
My cousins and I have kids the same age, so apple picking has become an annual tradition for us. For the past 4-5 years, we meet in Westchester, New York and let the boys run loose, pulling down apples from trees and, because they are boys, throwing the rotten ones as far as they can into the orchard oblivion. (I will totally deny this if ever confronted.) We each get a large plastic bag, which costs about $12-18 depending on the size, and you can stuff it with as many apples as you can fit. Along the way, we may eat an apple or two fresh off the tree as they are so crisp and juicy, it'd be a shame not to. And, of course, the piece de resistance of any apple picking venture is the hot cider donuts. You can get half a dozen small, warm and cinnamony donuts in a paper bag and lick the sugar from your fingers when you're done. OMG, heaven.
And since we tend to go in late September or early October, we also do double duty and let the kids go pumpkin picking, selecting the perfect jack-o-lantern-to-be. Our orchard also has hay rides. The bumpier the better, in my opinion. In the end, it's a day spent outdoors, letting the kids run around, getting amazing apples and supporting your community. What could be better than that?
My memories of apple picking came a bit later in life. Having gone to college in the Midwest, I was brought up-to-speed on all-things-Midwestern pretty quickly my freshman year. One of our first group dorm trips was to Fireside Orchard & Gardens, just a couple miles down the road from our campus.
(A small side note: I only recently came to recognize it by its proper name, as we had fittingly known it instead by the large white words painted on the establishment's roof - which I can only assume were intended to coax nearby air traffic to stop in. The roof read: "APPLES-CIDER-CHEESE-FUDGE" - and such is how it's known to most students at St. Olaf College today.)
Being that we were all 18-year-old boys, our visit soon deteriorated into an apple fight. Kind of like a snowball fight, but with, well, apples. Luckily, this was short-lived and well out of the sight of other visitors. Nevertheless, we left with our bellies warm from hot apple cider, our sweet-tooth's satisfied from apple cider donuts and homemade fudge and our arms full of bags of apples which we'd be snacking on through September. A recent visit back to the area allowed me to introduce my fiancee, Kim, to the orchard and reminded me of how wonderful the simple act of apple picking can be at this time of year. Sitting bundled-up in Adirondack chairs, sipping cider and watching the evening Autumn sunset can quickly remind you how moments like this truly rejuvenate the soul. So, there you have it. My top recommendation to get your heart and mind in-season: go apple-picking!
Have you gone apple picking? We'd love to hear all about it.