Fall is here so it’s time to put on a flannel shirt and head to your local apple orchard for some picking. If you’ve never been before and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with these apple picking tips.
- There are orchards in nearly every state - Google can help you find them near you and so can org or Orangepippin.com, which also flags organic orchards.
- Apple picking season is short - Most start taking people at the beginning of September and it’s all over by the late October.
- Go early - Arrive when the orchard opens to avoid the crowds and get there early in the season for a better selection of perfectly ripened apples.
- Everything you've heard about apple cider donuts is true - They’re available at many apple orchards and you’re going to want to try them.
- Pick from the outside in - Grab the ones on the outside and lower branches, which ripen first and are the easiest to get.
- Skip the ones on the ground - These could be bruised or cut or infested with bugs, or they could contain toxic compounds developed from fungi that grow on fallen apples.
- You can shake your booty, but don't shake the apple tree - Do your happy apple-picking dance, but don’t go shaking that tree to get the apples down. For one thing, more will drop than you’ll want, so it’s wasteful. And we already told you what can happen to the ones on the ground.
- Apple varieties have their own mini seasons - Ask at the orchard to find out which apples have ripened at the moment. It’s varies by region, but the general pattern is: McIntosh and Honeycrisp ripen during September, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are good to pick at the end of September, and October is best for Fuji and Granny Smith.
- Bring reusable bags - They’ll have paper ones, but bring canvas bags or a crate to be more environmentally friendly.
- Different apples are best for different recipes - Here’s your quick guide:
- For pies and baking - Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Cortland, Braeburn
- For eating - Honey Crisp, Mutsu, Fuji, Gala
- For applesauce - McIntosh, Jonagold, Macoun, Golden Delicious