Going to the apple orchard is such a treat. Apple picking is an activity that both you and your child will love, no matter what their age. The very young love to run and play in the orchard, and older children love to pick and eat the apples or make a game out of looking for the best apple to pick. Going with a group can make it easy, because the children can play while you pick your 10 or 20 pound bag worth of fruit. On a beautiful day, gather the children and friends and get outside. There are a number of U-Pick orchards in Central Ohio that are easy to get to, the kids stay busy, and it is an outing that won’t break the bank. I spent $20 for a 20 pound bag of apples (in 2009). In addition to the fun of picking apples and hanging out with buddies at the orchard, my children get to spend quality time with Grammies making applesauce.
I think it is important to know your apples – or at least know the apples you like. I didn’t realize that apples ripen at various times. *please note: call ahead to make sure the variety of apple you want to pick is ready. For instance, Honeycrisp are delicious right now, but Fuji apples don’t reach their peak until mid to late October. Apple picking can happen more than once in a season. You may want to pick to make applesauce in September, and then you may want to pick again in October for snack apples and pies. I am a fan of the Honeycrisp or Fuji apples myself, but Golden or Red Delicious and McIntosh are popular choices. Look here to see which apples are the sweetest, juiciest, better for pies or better for juice, etc. etc.: scroll down for apple table. Many farms/orchards have a general store set up where they sell baked goods, jams, jellies, pumpkins, and gourds. Raw honey can be a good find at these places, too.
There are many orchards around Central Ohio, check it out: Ohio Apple Orchards or Pick Your Own. Some are organic and some are not – call ahead to find out if you do not find the answer from one of the links I provided. I have picked Honeycrisp and Fuji at Lynd’s Fruit Farm in September and Goldrush at Windy Hill Apple Farm (or Charlie’s) in October. Be sure to check out the picking schedules at the orchard you plan to visit, the sites provide information on the types of apples they have available and a timetable for picking.
*2011 note: Windy Hill has no apples this year due to lack of pollination.
Also, I’ve been told Branstool Orchard is a great place to pick fruit, and lots of apples are ready! Read Pick Peaches at Branstool Orchard by Hounds in the Kitchen for more information about the farm. My lovely friend just picked some Galas for me from Branstool – they are delish for snacking or sauce!
If you decide to frolic in the orchards, please remember:
- Know when to go and pick your favorite apples.
- Decide if you want to visit an organic farm and call to find out how they treat their orchards.
- Go early in the day – early fall afternoons are still hot.
- Don’t bring a stroller because they are difficult to push through the rows. Wear your baby or carry them in their bucket seat.
- Bring cash.
- Bring food or a snack and water for you child. Yes, they can eat apples, but too many juicy apples could lead to a tummy ache.
- Port-a-potties. ’nuff said.