Like many other families, our family has an annual tradition of apple picking at a local orchard; however, we visit the orchard quite a few times throughout the season because it is an activity our children love. The fresh apples are worth it alone, and the prices are lower than our local supermarket. Additionally, we get apple butter, cider, and cider donuts too. My son likes to try to test the limits of donut consumption, and I mentally calculate how many jugs of cider I can fit into the cooler. However, when you go multiple times, you start to pick up on a few tips to make the process easier. To keep it easy, I kept the list short.
Best Tips for Apple Picking with Your Family
These are my best tips for apple picking with your family, particularly children under five years old:
- Prepare for the visit: Select the orchard ahead of time, and make sure you are aware of their accommodations (parking, food, and restrooms). Additionally, a wagon ride to the field can be a lot of fun and helps save energy for the fun part, apple picking. The orchard may or may not supply bags for picking, or you may want to bring your own reusable bag. If possible, select an orchard that is the best match for the needs of your family. If everyone is comfortable they will have more fun!
- Dress for the weather: At my local orchard, the season is from mid-August to the beginning of November. The variation in temperature throughout the season is considerable. Make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather and for picking apples. Comfortable sneakers or hiking shoes are a must. Bring hats and sunblock!
- Ask questions at the orchard: The apple varieties available for picking may change from one week to the next. Gala, Empire, Stayman Winesap (my favorite), and Braeburn, will ripen at different points during the season. Asking about the varieties and which are ripe on the day you are picking can help you pick apples your whole family will love.
- Pick gently and be considerate: When you find apples you want to pick, gently grasp the apple and give it a slight twist as you pick it from the branch. Don’t pull on the branches or shake the tree. The remaining ripe apples on the tree may fall to the ground and bruise.
- Bring wet wipes: Sticky hands and a variety of other situations will make this a necessity.
- Take a family photo: The orchard is a beautiful setting and taking a quick family photo next to the apple trees before you start picking helps to preserve the memory.
- Save cider donuts for last: Apple picking (and carrying) requires a lot of energy, and it is best to do that while everyone is feeling energetic and ready to go. Cider donuts can be a delicious treat, and I generally find that my family likes to enjoy their cider donuts and cold apple cider at the end before heading home with all of our fresh apples. It gives everyone something to look forward to, and it is a great way to relax after having fun in the orchard.
Apple Picking Recipes
You may find that you’ve picked a peck of apples and you are wondering how you will use them all. We find the apples are enjoyed quickly once you make a few treats (apple pie, boiled cider, and maple-apple blondies to name a few) and everyone eats an apple a day for a week. Remember that the season for apple picking is brief, so have fun!
Have you gone apple picking with your family? Share your apple orchard experiences and best tips in the comments!