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picking apples

A guide to apple picking

It’s more than just apples you’ll be coming home with; it’s family memories that will last a lifetime.

picking apples

I received an amazing gift in the mail today, memories. Sure it looked and smelled a whole lot like fresh baked apple cider donuts, but they were so much more than that to me. A family member surprised me with apple cider donuts from Bartlett’s Apple Orchard. My grandparents lived just down the road from Bartlett’s in Richmond, Massachusetts. I have wonderful memories of visiting my grandparents and going to Bartlett’s for warm apple cider donuts, and of course apples. My grandparents have both passed and I live in Virginia, so it has been many years since I’ve been to Bartlett’s, but I still talk about the orchard and their wonderful donuts every fall. My mom and I reminisce about great family times at Bartlett’s Apple Orchard and I want to have that bond with my children as well.

We live about two hours from apple country here so while visiting an orchard can’t be a frequent activity, I love to take the kids in the fall to Graves Mountain Apple Festival. This is a wonderful event with so many things to do. You can hike up the mountain and pick apples yourself or choose some that have already been picked. You can watch them make small apple butter donuts, and of course buy them as soon as they are done. Graves has a wonderful shop full of everything apple that you could think of. I particularly like the apple butter. While at the festival, you can visit booths of homemade items, take a hayride, watch a raptor show, pet some adorable farm animals and listen to amazing music. It’s a wonderful family event.

I love watching the kids’ reactions to seeing everything and picking their own apples. I especially love bringing apples home and baking apple pies together. The smell of freshly baked apple pie is amazing. I hope they remember these days as they get older; I know I will.

Homemade apple pie

Did you go apple picking as a child? Have you taken your children apple picking? If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit an apple orchard, I highly recommend going. You’ll have a wonderful time and create fantastic memories. You’ll also get to go home with a lot of apples perfect for baking.


I love baking apple pies, but I also love using apples in stuffing. November 21st is National Stuffing Day here in America. Yes, that’s a real thing. It’s also a great excuse to wow family members with homemade stuffing featuring apples you picked together.

Whether you’re baking pies or making stuffing, make sure you have nice firm apples. It’s a lot of fun picking apples with kids, but you need to watch what ends up in your basket. Let the kids know to feel for firm apples and not to pick up squishy ones from the ground. If you end up with any apples that have bruises or splits, make sure to use those up first when you get home. There are so many fun and delicious apple snacks you can make with the ones you want to use up quickly.

Don’t worry thinking you’re going to have to eat all of your apples at once though. Apples can be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. This gives you plenty of time to try out all the amazing apple recipes you probably have saved on a Pinterest board.

Here are a few tips when picking apples

  • Choose apples that are on the outer limbs of the trees. These ripen sooner than the ones in the middle. Once apples are picked, they stop ripening. They aren’t like tomatoes that will continue to ripen on the counter so you want to be sure you are picking ripe apples.
  • You’ll know the apple is ready to be picked by lifting it up towards the branch and twisting it. If it comes off easily, it’s ripe. If you have to tug hard to get it off, it isn’t.
  • Don’t shake the trees. You could easily damage the branches this way. Also, if fruit simply falls to the ground from shaking the tree, it will likely bruise. You don’t want bruised apples. Lift and twist the apples to pick them.
  • Bring the whole family and have fun! Don’t rush through it. Let the kids explore and pick their own apples. You might need to be prepared to lift small children up to pick them.
picking green apples
Apple Cider donuts

Apple picking is mostly about the experience and the memories made. I love traditions, and this is one of my favorites. I have amazing memories from my childhood visiting family in Massachusetts and eating hot apple cider donuts and picking up apples. I love having a garden and taking the children places where they can see other crops growing. They are so much more likely to eat something when they have grown and/or picked it than if I simply buy it at a store. You tend to appreciate things more and feel proud of what you’ve made when you’ve been part of the process of getting it from farm to table.

When I received the wonderful surprise of apple cider donuts in the mail all of those childhood memories came rushing back. I hope everyone has that opportunity. Find an apple orchard near you and create your own beautiful memories.

Have you taken your family to an apple orchard?
Share your favorite memories in the comments below.
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