We remember the delight of apple picking with the family when we were kids, especially biting right into a juicy McIntosh apple straight off the tree! With apple season upon us (and a great crop, apparently, to make up for last year’s disastrous season), there’s no better time to grab the kids, hop in the car, and take a drive to one of the many apple farms for some pick-your-own fun. And while we can’t be sure if an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, no question it’s a natural, delicious, and portable way to get your daily dose of vitamins and fiber. So here are five tips to pick the best of the crop:
1. plan an appletastic menu:
From applesauce, to apple brown betty, to apple pie (try adding some grated aged cheddar cheese to the crust…or our new favourite Salted Caramel variation!), not to mention apple jelly, apple cinnamon muffins … you get the idea, apples are great for everything from breakfast to dinner, and appetizers to entrees. Choose a sweet, and a savoury apple recipe (apple crisp and pork with roasted apples are easy and delicious!), then let the kiddos play little chefs when you get home.
2. choose the best destination:
Older kids will likely be fine with apple picking alone, but for the younger ones, visiting a farm that also offers kids’ activities will make it more fun for all. The GTA is teeming with orchards (we like Harvest Ontario’s site, which allows you to choose by location, crop, and activities) that offer fall apple picking, so have a look at which farms offer what, and decide on the best fit for your family. Along with “pick your own fruit” services, some farms also have wagon rides, petting zoos, kid play zones, and retail shops to grab jars of homemade jams and preserves.
3. call ahead:
Certain types of apples may not always be available, and orchard hours can change. There’s nothing worse that gearing the gang up for a fun day, only to arrive to a “Closed” sign. So before you make the drive, double check the orchard is open, and those honey crisp apples you have your heart set on are ready for picking!
4. come prepared:
While some farms do have containers for pick-your-own, it’s not a bad idea to bring bags from home. Also, dress for whatever activities you’re planning to do at the orchard (hay rides and a muddy ground are not the best for pristine outfits and sandalled feet), and for the weather!
5. take care of them apples:
Apples are very hardy, and believe it or not, can last up to a year if stored properly (like in a cellar or insulated garage). They do bruise easily, so take care when shuffling them around, and if you notice a bad apple in the bunch (with brown spots or bruising), remove it right away. When picking, choose apples that are firm, well shaped, and free of wrinkles, then keep them crisp in the fridge using perforated plastic bags. For a list of Ontario apple varieties and seasonal dates, visit the Ontario Apple Growers site .
Yo mamas and papas! We’ve got lots of tasty treats for you on our Pinterest boards and if you’re hungry for more, sample these reads: