You know what really puts us in a fall mood? Apple picking. Over the years we've visited orchards all across the U.S., from the East Coast to the West Coast. We've even filled our basket with Fujis in the "apple capitol of the world", Wenatchee, WA. And just last week we popped over to Edwards Apple Orchard in Illinois. We had so much fun we decided to share our favorite tips, to-dos and recipes so you can make the most out of your visit to the orchard. Of course you're going.

Apple Tree

The Scenic Route

Yes, you’re there to pick up apples for that pie you’re going to make (or homemade apple sauce, if you lose your ambition). But you’re also there to savor the scenery, capture the moment with lovely Instagram and Facebook pictures that show off your photography skills, and humblebrag about all the autumn adventures you’re having.

On the scene apple picking

Apples after a rain storm … gorgeous. Your Instagram gallery just got more amazing.

On the scene apple picking

What’s Your Pick?

Granny Smith? Macintosh? Honeycrisp? Now that you’re there, what kinds of apples will you toss in your basket? Orchards usually mark each apple row with numbers or names for each variety. If you’re not sure what to choose, ask someone at the farm about the flavors of each apple, or what types of recipes they suit best. For example, sweet Honeycrisp and Fuji apples are ideal for apple butter like this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker. Or make this delicious apple pie recipe from Moms Who Think with tart Granny Smiths and sweet-sharp Jonathan apples.

On the scene apple picking

These Gala apples are great for applesauce (we love this recipe from The Pioneer Woman).

On the scene apple picking

Be sure to stop picking from time to time and enjoy the simple beauty of nature and the crisp fall air.

On the scene apple picking

Ripe and Ready

These Redmacs weren’t quite ready to pick. They’ll be much sweeter and bigger after they fully ripen.

On the scene apple picking

This Blondee is perfectly ripe. With its sweet flavor and crunchy texture, this all-purpose apple tastes wonderful fresh or baked into delicious desserts, like this apple crisp pizza from the Girl Who Ate Everything.

On the scene apple picking

Farm Fun

Don’t forget you’re on a farm. A farm with a bounty of other places to explore, things to do and of course, photo opportunities. Like these vintage tractors we discovered.

On the scene apple picking

And these baby goats. They were just born the evening before our visit, so they were a mere six hours old! Also, don’t forget the farmers, if they’re around. They’re sure to have plenty of stories and maybe even secret spots (and more animal babies) to share.

On the scene apple picking

Not Picky?

No time to pick, but still want orchard-fresh apples? Most farms have bags of ready-picked apples you can just grab and go.

On the scene apple picking

A Cuppa Cider

The perfect way to end your orchard tour: a fresh cup of cider and homemade apple cider doughnuts. Can’t get enough while you’re there? Make your own cider and doughnuts at home with these recipes from A Beautiful Mess and The Midnight Baker.

Make Your Harvest Last

Once you get your apples home, there are a few things you can do to make them last. First, don’t wash your apples until you’re ready to use them to prevent them from spoiling. If you’re planning to store them, keep them in a cool place, ideally a basement, root cellar or your refrigerator’s fruit/vegetable drawer. According to Living Homegrown, when kept cool, apples can stay fresh for weeks—sometime months—depending on the variety.

 

How do You Like Them Apples?

What’s your favorite apple picking tip, recipe, to-do or moment? Share your adventures in the blog comments.