This is a great time of year in North Carolina. The first crisp fall days beckon us to get out and savor the autumnal beauty and mild temperatures. In recent years I’ve added apple-picking to our fall activity list and it has quickly become a family favorite. If you’ve never been apple-picking I highly recommend giving it a try. The harvest time in Central North Carolina is winding down, but there’s still time to pick in the western part of the state.
Now that I’m no longer a total rookie, I’ll pass along a few things I’ve learned from my apple-picking experiences.
1) If you plan on picking a lot it may be a good idea to bring a wagon.
The basket can get heavy fast and you may have a lot of orchard left to cover. A wagon comes in handy not only for hauling the youngsters but to help carry a full basket.
2) It’s easy to get carried away.
I admit, it’s fun picking and easy to suddenly realize there are more apples in the basket than family, friends, teachers and co-workers to help eat them. Make a list before heading into the orchard to avoid over-picking. The apples are great, but if they’re going to go bad once you get them home that’s just sad.
3) Sun block, hat and comfy shoes are a must.
Sunny fall days may be cooler, but the sun can still be brutal. Be prepared. Even if you’re going to be surrounded by trees in an orchard, the sun peeks through. Don’t be sorry. Same goes for shoes. Being stylish has a time and place but in an orchard comfort is priority.
4) Arrive early.
If you get there early it’s usually less crowded. It’s much easier to pick when there aren’t hoards of people. You’ll also be able to work the trees at your own pace.
5) Call ahead.
Temperature, storms, frost, volume of visitors are just a few things that can affect the picking season at an orchard. This year North Carolina saw a warm winter which in turn created an early harvest. It’s always wise to call ahead to assure your favorite orchard isn’t “picked-out.”
6) Remember your camera!
This one may go without saying, but the scenery at an orchard on a sunny fall day is phenomenal. Add a cute kid, the apple of your eye, and it’s the perfect photo-op.
7) Learn the varieties of apples before you visit
The first time I went picking I was clueless and picked anything. Now that I’m more experienced I’ve learned which apples are sweet and which ones are tart. This is helpful if you are planning to eat your pick or bake them. You might want a mix of apples so knowing the varieties is helpful. Most orchards list what they grow on their websites.
If you come home and discover you’ve over-picked and don’t know what to do with all the apples Pinterest is a great place to find recipes. Apple crisp, apple sauce, apple butter, apple cider, apple tarts, apple pie – you name it, there’s a recipe on Pinterest.
There’s something special about apple season. Maybe it’s the bright sunny days or festive feeling that comes with having endured a long hot summer to finally be rewarded with the first crisp temps of a new season.
Maybe it’s the enjoyment of spending time in the country away from normal day-to-day noises. What ever the reason, it affords a great opportunity to get outside, enjoy and take a bite out of life.