Apple Picking Season!
If you live in the Northeast like we do, this time of year is one of our favorites. Weather gets a bit cooler, but still warm enough to wear shorts, the leaves begin to change, Saturday mornings are spent on the soccer field, and... it is apple picking season!
Getting to spend a sunny afternoon outside with the family picking apples is so much fun. And yes, the one donut a year that I treat myself to is the fresh, still warm apple cider donut at the orchard covered in a delectable mixture of sugar and cinnamon. My mouth is watering even as I sit here and type...
But this year has been a crazy one in terms of weather (non existent spring, scorching summer, a massive drought...), so when we set out to choose a place to pick apples last weekend, we didn't know what we would find. We certainly weren't optimistic about the apples, but we knew we would have a great time.
We had no reason to be worried at all, the apples were actually some of the best we have had in a long time, and it wasn't too busy. We of course came home with way more apples that we need (how is it that always happens?), but we are enjoying then immensely and have lots of fun finding ways to use use them. In addition, to eating fresh apples daily, we have made a delectable crumble, and have plans for apple sauce, caramel apple pancakes, and apple/fennel salad. Keep your eye out, recipes will be posted over the next few days. A spiced apple martini might be something I try to create for this weekend too...
So, if you don't have plans this weekend, or one of the next few coming up, here are some of the great apple picking orchards in Massachusetts that we love, although there are sure to be great orchards in your area as well. Just be sure to check out when they are picking, as the season will be shorter this year due to the weather, and don't forget to grab an apple cider donut!
- Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Ma. Our personal favorite. This huge family owned (since 1926) orchard has great apple, pear, pumpkin and berry picking, fun hedge mazes, animals, hay rides and an incredible farm stand. Yep you guessed it, this is where we get those amazing apple cider donuts as well as great, tart apple cider. Staff is extremely nice and prices are reasonable, but be sure to bring cash.
- Tougas Family Farm in Northboro, Ma is a fun family farm with great apple, pumpkin and berry picking, a farm stand and hayrides. Great place for the family to spend the day or have a fall birthday party. Prices very reasonable and credit cards are accepted.
- Shelburne Farm in Stow, Ma is a bit smaller but still massive. Although it feels somewhat less "family owned" or quaint, there is so much going on that it is great for an active family. In addition to picking, there are hayrides, farm animals, a tractor playground, ice cream, a farmstand and bakery, a grill, games and sometimes live music. This is a great place to visit even after all of the picking is done- in fact the focus here is more on the attractions than on the picking.