Have you been apple picking yet this year? If not, you should definitely go. NOW! The weekend is beautiful and there’s still plenty of apples if you head to the right spot. For me, apple picking is a fall necessity. Last year might have been the first year I can remember that I didn’t go apple picking. It’s a tradition that started with my family as a kid, continued with my high school friends and now I do with my husband every October.
We almost always go apple picking on Columbus Day. It’s the middle ground between crazy weekend family pickers and having to take a day off work to go midweek. Apparently Columbus Day is one of the least common work holidays (there’s a stat out there somewhere…). Luckily, I work in nonprofit and my husband finance, so it’s never really been a problem for us. There are still a lot of pickers as many schools have off, but not nearly as many as on weekends. Generally by Columbus Day you need to get a bit creative in how you pick your apples. The remaining ones are high up on the trees and either a picker pole or some advanced climbing skills (shhh…you’re not really allowed to do that…) are required. But this year the mild summer produced an exceptionally long season with apples still abundant on their trees. We got our picker pole as usual and my husband insisted on using it, but you could pretty much grab at a branch and come away with 3 or 4 apples.
Our farm of choice is Wilklow Orchards by New Paltz, NY. Yes, it’s a bit far from Brooklyn, but that area holds a special place for us. My husband proposed to me at the top of Mohonk Mountain House’s rock scramble, just 10 minutes down the road. One of our favorite Hudson Valley Wineries, Whitecliff Vineyards that we served at our wedding, is just 25 minutes away. And Tuthilltown Spirits, with its exceptional baby bourbon, just as close. And then there’s the farm itself. Sprawling, friendly and usually less crowded than most places. Wicklow is one of my favorite farms in the NYC Greenmarket circuit and the source of my 50-75 annual pounds of tomatoes, depending how motivated I am. They’re not organic, almost impossible to achieve in the Northeast for apples, but minimal spray.
We usually walk away with about 50 pounds of apples. We pick half a bushel, our eyes always bigger than our stomaches and strength, plus get another half bushel of utility apples for making applesauce. It’s an invigorating experience, that is until you get home and have 50 pounds of apples sitting on your countertop. An apple a day is great but sometimes you need to get a bit more creative in how to consume all of those apples. Especially with just two in a household. We munch some for breakfast or dessert with some sharp cheese, but the rest of those apples, they go to work in some of my favorite apple centric recipes.