The air has a sudden new crispness here in New York, and if you’ve lately found yourself reflecting on carefree warm summer days, instinctively planting iris and crocus bulbs, and spontaneously considering dramatic Halloween costume options, you know it’s that time of year. Fall. That tiny respite between hot-tempered seasons. A fresh start, an ending, a new beginning. An energizing breath of fresh air.
If there is anything as magnificent as fall in New York, well, I don’t believe you—fiery foliage, Cornflower blue sky, cool and crisp nights. And suddenly, the minute that earthy, smoky autumn scent fills your lungs, you know it’s time. Harvest time. Time to make serious apple-picking plans.
If your family is at all like ours, you each have our own personal harvesting goal in mind with a specific plan to meet this goal. Be it a handful of ready-to-eat Macouns, an armful of Jonathans and Pippins for a homemade apple pie, or a bushel of Cortlands and Winesaps for applesauce canning, you need not travel far to meet your needs. As well, to solidify your apple-picking enthusiasm, many orchards feature added incentives—horse-drawn wagon ride, corn maze, farm stand, live afternoon music, farm animals, or freshly pressed cider. My personal favorite: warm cider donuts—faintly spiced, lightly apple-scented, and perfectly crisped at the edges. Mmmm.
There are several orchards within a few miles of us, though our family’s favorite crowd-free destinations are about an hour away in Orange County’s Warwick. No matter where the apple excursion takes you, be sure to call each orchard for specifics, as ripening dates vary depending on the weather.
Alternatively, lease your own apple tree for the entire season. Little Dog Orchard in Ulster County offers the opportunity to lease an Empire or Red Delicious tree for $65 and take home the bounty of an entire apple tree during peak season—100 to 200 pounds of naturally grown apples!
Or, better yet, plant an heirloom apple tree in your community garden or at your school. The Newtown Pippin, originally discovered in Queens, NY, is the most famous colonial American apple—legendary, tasty, and overdue for a comeback. Currently, there is an official campaign to revive the Pippin—for this cultivar to become New York City’s official apple.
U-Pick Orchards Just a Few Minutes Away:
• Dr. Davies, Congers
• Orchards of Concklin, Pomona
• Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm, Yorktown Heights
• Stuart’s Fruit Farm, Granite Springs
• Harvest Moon Farm (formerly Outhouse Orchards), North Salem
Slightly Farther Away, But Worth the Trip:
• Maskers Orchards, Warwick
• Applewood Orchards and Winery, Warwick
• Apple Ridge Orchards, Warwick
• Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, Warwick
• Ochs Orchard, Warwick
• Pennings Farm Market, Warwick
• Overlook Farm, Newburgh
• Lawrence Farms Orchards, Newburgh
• Slate Hill Orchard, Slate Hill
• Sleepy Hills Orchard, Johnson
• Soons Orchards, New Hampton
Even Farther Away, But Fantastic:
• Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction
• Cedar Heights Orchard, Rhinebeck
• Fraleigh’s Rose Hill Farm, Red Hook
• Greig Farm, Red Hook
• Barton Orchards, Poughquag
• Mead Orchards, Tivoli
• Meadowbrook Farm Market, Wappingers Falls
• Terhune Orchards, Salt Point
• Mr. Apples Low Spray Orchard, High Falls
• Jenkins Lueken Orchards, New Paltz
• Weed Orchards, Marlboro
• Hurd’s Family Farm, Modena