In most growing zones, cool fall weather marks a much welcome change of pace. With the summer heat now a distant memory, many people once again venture outdoors. While recreational activities like camping, hiking, and attending various festivals are always popular, my family is ever so eager to make our first visit to the local “U-Pick” farms.
Simply, a pick-your-own farm allows guests to come and harvest produce where it is being grown. A visit to this type of farm is an excellent way to spend quality time with family and friends while having fun, plus you get a great deal on the freshest produce. My local farm offers two different picking seasons in the fall – one for apples and one for pumpkins. It is no surprise that both apple and pumpkin picking has quickly become a much-loved family tradition.
Local Farm Harvest Fun
When October arrives, the air is already crisp. After throwing on a light jacket and scarf, we eagerly take the hay ride to the apple orchard early in the morning. There, we are able to fill our harvest baskets to the brim with juicy, crisp apples. As we walk through the rows, we search for the “perfect” apple. It won’t be until much later, when we arrive home, that the real fun begins.
Next comes the long, involved process of peeling the apples. While I’m sure that the skin could be left on, several very picky eaters in our house insist that the peels are completely removed. As the apples are cored and sliced, they go into a large bowl of cool lemon water to prevent browning.
When the prep work is finally done, we’re able to decide which recipes we’ll use this year. By far, apple butter seems to be the most popular choice. Despite its name, the final product does not actually contain any butter, but rather a delicious blend of cinnamon and other fall spices. Beyond apple butter, the assortment of apple-based creations is almost unbelievable. Apple pie filling, canned country apples, apple cider, and even homemade applesauce; one trip to the pick-your-own farm truly makes a difference to my family in celebrating the arrival of fall.
The process of picking, cooking, and canning fruit is truly a labor of love. In the end, we’re left with a fresh and more natural alternative to many of the items that could simply be purchased from the grocery. Though several hours will pass as we work, those hours represent irreplaceable quality time that has been spent with loved ones. Even though the apple picking for the season is finished, we can still look forward to opening day at the pumpkin patch!