Now that strawberry picking season is over and blueberries will be finished before you know it-it’s apple picking time! It’s a favorite time of year for many.And why not? Enjoying the crisp clear fall air, biting into tart and juicy apple, the feeling of filling the larder for the winter….
In this post, I’m going to give you tips to make the most of this great fall activity, from the correct way to pick to choosing the best apples for cooking and for eating and finish off with a few Annapolis Valley U Picks for you to try.
Full disclosure. I have picked apples. But not for fun, for money and let me just tell you I will never get rich that way.
So. You can pick apples meditatively by yourself, as a romantic date, or as a family activity. But you may not be able to bring your dog. Some orchards, due to health regulations, prohibits pets in the orchards for obvious sanitary reasons. Check before you go.
For the sake of next year’s crop, don’t yank or pull the apples from the limb-it damages the tree and may cause a free fall of other apples from neighboring branches. (That can be painful) Instead, grasp the apple and turn it causing the stem to twist away from the spur without damage to the tree. Use your palm to hold the apple while twisting to lessen the change of bruising from the pressure of fingers, etc.
Apples bruise easily.Bruised apples will not keep well.
Place them gently in your basket, instead of dropping them from eyeball height. Try to keep the apples from banging against one another and if transferring the fruit into another container,tip the basket, and using your hands as brakes, slowly and carefully lower the apples into the new vessel. Better yet, transfer them one by one.Careful handling with ensure your apple picking efforts don’t end with an basket of rotting fruit
Storing Your Apples
Make sure your apples are in good shape with no nicks, soft spots or bruising. Choose thick-skinned varieties, such as Jonathan, McIntosh, Fuji, Rome and Granny Smith-ones that are harvested late in the season. The pricey Honeycrisp is a good keeper, too. The sweeter, thinner-skinned types — such as Delicious or Gala — can still be stored, but they don’t last as long, so use them first.
Early varieties such as Gravenstein don’t last-they bruise just by looking at them, I swear. But they are a great cooking apple so get around this by peeling and slicing the apples and then freezing them in on cookie sheets in a single layer and bagging them in portions that will make a pie, apple crisp or applesauce.
Apples keep best when store in the refrigerator or in a cold cellar-the temperature should be above freezing, though. Some folks recommend wrapping apples individually for storage in newspaper and by not letting them touch one another – you can do this by storing them in wooden crates or boxes and using a layer of straw in between the apples. This means not hauling a 20 lb bag of apples down to the basement and letting them sit there for weeks. Check the fruit periodically for signs of it going bad and toss the bad ones into the compost pile-otherwise they will cause the the whole damn bunch to rot.
And, believe it or not- do not store your apples near potatoes. Potatoes emit a gas that makes apples go bad-don’t worry it’s harmless to us humans.
Apple Picking Nova Scotia’s Favorites
Here’s a quick “at a glance”table to show you which varieties may fit your needs when you’re apple picking
Now, where will you find these beauties?
U-Picks in the Annapolis Valley:
Dempsey Corner Orchards
2717 Highway 221, RR#3 Aylesford, Nova Scotia
Great place for a family day out with lots of activities besides apple picking
432 Bligh Road, Woodville, Kings County
They have U pick pears as well as apples
Foote Family Farm
1972 Woodville Road,Woodville
picnic area and Woodville hiking trails are close by
Noggin’s Corner Farm Market
10009 Hwy #1 Greenwich, Nova Scotia
Also offers U-Pick pumpkins, a corn maze and more.
10317 Highway 1, Greenwich
Farm market, u-pick pumpkins,hayrides
10362 Hwy 1, Wolfville
Bakery and farm market
Willowbank U-pick Farm
110 Starr’s Point Loop,Port Williams
Corn maze, petting zoo
269 Starr’s Point Road, Port Williams
U-Pick apples, pears, pumpkins and sunflowers.
Free wagon rides
This IS Nova Scotia and our frosts, drought, floods and hurricane force breezes can affect the health and availability of crops. Please call the property before you head out.