Apple picking is a fall tradition that I look forward to every year. For my family, it is as traditional as fireworks on July 4 and parades on Memorial Day.
What is especially nice about apple picking season is that it lasts so long! Unlike berries with picking seasons -- if we're lucky -- that last a few weeks, apple picking season lasts well into October, at least in Massachusetts! See our local Apple Orchard Guide.
Making memories in an apple orchard.
Here are five tips to make the most of your apple-picking experience and the apples that you bring home:
1. Teach your kids to search out the best apples.
Show your kids how to look at and handle the apples before picking to make sure they pick ones that are ripe and bruise- and bug-free. Colors, of course, can vary based on the apple species, so talk to the people who run your local orchard about what to look for in the apples that are grown there. Some orchards will even have resources on their websites.
2. Teach your kids to handle the apples gently after picking!
Now that they know how to spot the best apples, don't let the kids ruin them by treating them roughly once they're in their grasp! Tossing or throwing them into the basket will bruise apples and make their shelf life shorter.
3. Make it educational.
Take your kids to talk with the local orchard owner or farmer. They are experts about their orchards and growing apples. You can learn a lot from them!
4. Don't wash the apples until you're ready to eat them.
Often rough handing, washing, and scrubbing can quicken the time until the apples go bad, so wait until you're ready to eat or cook them to wash them.
There are so many ways to enjoy apples! Encourage your kids to find different recipes ... you can help them make pies and desserts, butter, or applesauce ... the list is endless! Check the Apple Varieties Guide from PickYourOwn.org to find out the best uses for your types of apples.
Victoria Robillard is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Plymouth, Mass.