You’re probably already clued up about the benefits of including apples in your diet. Packed with a number of vitamins and antioxidants, this fruit helps clean our system, boost our immunity and improve the glow of our skin. But have you ever considered apple-picking? It may be an ideal opportunity to beat the stress and autumn blues.
Benefits of apple-picking
Whether you’ve decided to spend a weekend with friends or family at the orchards, this seasonal experience is an unconventional way to get social and to do a bit of exercise (all that walking and climbing is a great workout for your legs, while your arms get to hold the heavy bag of apples).
What’s more, getting up close and personal with nature is not only good for your body but also for your mind. Most of us spend our lives indoors, and here’s a great excuse to go outside and feel as though we have accomplished something. Orchards offer a space to learn from each other and nature, and a place for celebration of diversity, nourishing fruit and the trees that provide it.
Yes, there is something really magical about pulling an apple off a tree and eating it right there. Being out in the crisp air, surrounded by orchards brings a multitude of emotions, including awe, wonder, joy, fascination and curiosity. A chance to destress and reduce cortisol, lowering heart rate and blood pressure whilst enhancing your parasympathetic nervous system.
It’s a wonderful way to re-tune into the shifting seasons around us and boost our mood.
How to pick apples
Picking apples is not complicated. It requires just a bit of care: not only in detaching the fruit from the branches but also and above all, in the storing of fruit inside the basket (they should never bang against one another).
Although it can be tempting to start grabbing apples left and right, pulling them off the branches with no particular technique is most convenient, this isn’t the best approach. Instead of doing that, you need to gently twist the apple, forcing the stem of the fruit to separate from the spur branch.
How to tell when the apples are ripe
According to experts at Pickyourown.org, apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the centre, so the fruits out the outside of the tree will ripen first. However, Don’t shake the trees or branches. If the apple you are trying to pick drops, (or others on the tree) go ahead and pick it up. They’re perfectly fine. But do wash them before you eat them.
Once at home, remove any apples that are bruised and store the other ones in a vegetable crisper or plastic bag in your refrigerator. Kept at room temperature, apples ripen 10 times faster than when kept in cold storage.
The best orchards
So, where should you go for the best harvest? There are so many fabulous small farms and orchards in the USA and the Uk that open their doors to fruit-collecting visitors every fall. Here, CrunchyTales has rounded up the best apple-picking day trips for you.
USA apple picking farms
The top 10 varieties in the U.S. are Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Rome, Cripps, Pink/Pink Lady and Empire (U.S. Apple Association, 2021). The United States has 5,000 plus apple producers who grow, on average, 240 million bushels of apples each year.
- Amesbury, Massachusetts — Cider Hill Farm
- Highland, N.Y. — DuBois Farms
- Middlefield, Connecticut – Lyman Orchards
- Charlottesville, Va — Carter Mountain Orchard
- Pataskala, Ohio — Lynd Fruit Farm
- Oak Glen, California — Willowbrook Apple Farm
- Las Vegas, NV — Gilcrease Orchard
UK apple picking farms
In the UK alone there are over 2,500 varieties of apples (of the 7,000 that exist worldwide). This means you could eat a different UK variety every day for over 6 years. Britain’s top five favourite apples are Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Royal Gala, Braeburn, Cox.
- Hewitts Farm – Kent
- Meopham – Broomfield Farm, Kent
- Court Farm and Leisure – Herefordshire
- Grange Farm, West Sussex
- Peterley Manor Farm- Buckinghamshire
And don’t forget to bring back the lessons learned from the orchard home with you: now that you feel more at ease, keep the good vibes flowing with daily hits of nature.