An Apple Picking Primer & Orchard Tips

October  2, 2014

Over at Provisions, we're all about collections of beautiful, useful products to help make the most of good food -- and we don't want you to miss out on the fun.

Today: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so get to the orchard already!

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As soon as we see the leaves start to change, we can think of nothing but apple picking. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying this quintessential fall outing for yourself, we suggest you stop reading right now and go remedy that.

If the idea of sunny yet cool weather, rows of knobby trees heavy with fruit, and that first sweet crunch into an apple isn’t enough to inspire you, just think of all the pie! (It’s okay if you’re just in it for the pie. That’s kind of our life’s motto.)

Let’s walk through everything you need to know before you go on an orchard trip: prepping, picking, and pie-eating. And we’ll clarify here -- an orchard is any group of fruit-bearing trees, so pears, figs, nectarines, and so on are all fair game.


1. Preparation

Do your research before you go! There’s nothing sadder than arriving at your destination to see that the fruit has been picked over or that it’s just not a very scenic spot. Look for advice online on good picking farms and find out their hours, picking policies, and atmosphere. If the farm allows it, bring your own basket or bag. We like this half bushel basket: first because how often do you get to use the word bushel, and second because it holds a lot of fruit.

2. Picking (and picnics!)

This step is simple: Have fun. Bring friends. Pick a variety of fruit. And make sure to sample as you go -- all in the name of quality control. (The better the fruit, the better the resulting baked goods. Frog Hollow Farm grows the most delicious pears we’ve ever had.) Bring a good picnic to keep your energy up.

More: The 6 best apple types for pie.


3. Pie

Making a great pie requires a light hand and a good crust recipe (here are some tips for homemade crust). Using an extra-large pie plate like this 11-inch one from Farmhouse Pottery is a good idea for apple pies, as the fruit is sturdy enough to pile high. Once your pie is made, transport it to dinner parties, work, or on a picnic in a sturdy pine PieBox. Send everyone home with leftover slices in these cleverly designed pie slice to go boxes.

More: Learn how to make a fancier pie crust.

Tell us, what is your favorite thing to make with fall apples?

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.