Autumn. There aren’t many things more refreshing than these crisp dry days. What sort of activities do you enjoy during this time of year? Here is Danielle Walsh’s perspective on how to avoid common mistakes while apple picking.
7 Common Apple Picking Mistakes to Avoid This Fall
Written by Danielle Walsh
Hooray—it’s apple-picking season! This might call to mind scenes of fiery foliage, round, bright-red apples that shine in the sun, and lots of bags filled with your bounty in your car’s trunk. But, wait—should that actually be the case? When it comes to all things apple picking, we turn to Laura Ferrara and Fabio Chizzola of the organic Westwind Orchard in New York’s Hudson Valley. We caught up with Laura, a fashion stylist and apple enthusiast, to ask her about the mistakes people make during this fall ritual—and how to avoid them.
1. The Closest Orchard Is Best
There are a lot of variables that you should consider before choosing your orchard, says Ferrara. “Go online and research which type of orchard you’re looking for, whether it’s organic, or conventional, or low-spray, and really be informed about what that all means,” she suggests. “Call the farm and ask directly: Are you organic? Do you spray your trees with pesticides?”
Another thing to consider: What kind of apple you want to pick. “Each orchard in different parts of the country produces different apples at different times,” she warns. “Ask the orchard what kind they have at that moment. If you’re going in the end of August, you’ll get summery weather and maybe some early Macs. If you go later in September, the leaves will be changing and you might have crimson crisp or red delicious.” But, again, it depends on what part of the country you’ll be doing your apple picking in. Do your research, people.
2. They’ll Have Food—It’s a Farm, After All
Not all apple-picking spots have food and drinks readily available. Stay on the safe side and pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, and if you’re driving more than an hour, food. A cooler might come in handy in another way, too. “Maybe the farm will have other produce or items you’re interested in, like raspberries or homemade gelato,” says Ferrara, both of which she and her husband offer at her farm. That cooler will keep any perishable souvenirs safe in a hot car.
3. Pick a Sunny Day
“It’s gorgeous to pick in the rain!” says Ferrara. But even on a sunnier day, be prepared. “Have umbrellas or a rain jacket, just in case.” You’ll get your pick (get it?) of the fruit and avoid the crowds. Plus, being in a green, grassy orchard in the rain is a pretty romantic setting (and imagine the Instagrams…). But if it’s sunny, you might want to think about bringing along something extra, too. “Bring a hat! On an orchard, you’ll be out in the sun. That’s part of the beauty of it—but it might get hot.”
4. They’ll Have Bags for My Apples, Right?
Well, yes, they will. But, like when you’re shopping at the farmers’ market, it’s best to bring along a reusable bag. “We use paper bags at our orchard, but we appreciate when people bring their own bags to bring their apples home,” says Ferrara. “We like to use less when we can.”
5. I’ll Just Carry My Baby, Thanks.
“It’s really hard to pick apples with a baby and two other kids!” says Ferrara. “Definitely bring a carriage if you have a baby. Apples are heavy!”
6. There’s No Wrong Way to Pick an Apple
Unless the orchard has dwarf trees—which are short enough to gently pick its fruit—use an apple picker. “Don’t tug,” says Ferrara. “Get the clamp around the stem of the apple and pull gently. Don’t jump on the tree and start hitting its branches, either.” Tugging and shaking the tree’s branches will cause fruit to fall to the ground, creating more waste. If picking your apple causes more to fall off the branch, gather up the apples on the ground, wipe them off, and take them home. “My favorite book is The Giving Tree,” she says. “I always think about that book—these trees give so much to us. We need to respect them, too. It hurts me when I see apples on the ground that people just discard.”
7. Avoid Misshapen, Unevenly Colored, Slightly Bruised Fruit
“We’re organic, so our apples are not perfect,” Ferrara says. “It’s about the fact that you can take it off the tree and bite it, and savor the flavors.” If you’re looking for perfectly round, shiny (read: waxed) apples, try the supermarket.
About the Author:
Danielle Walsh is the Associate Web Editor @AFARmedia, and formerly of Bon Appetit.