How to put pick-your-own apples to good use

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apple orchard, toddler picking apples and ear of corn on stalk

Visiting a local apple orchard is a fun fall activity. Pick-your-own operations are a great way to get your family active outdoors and enjoy the fall colors.

Most orchards that are open to the public are small to medium-sized family farms. Your visit supports local food producers and offers a perfect opportunity to teach children where food comes from. Most agritourism destinations charge admission and activity fees in addition to pick-your-own prices. Be sure to stock up on fresh produce and value-added products while you’re there.

Find an orchard

Localharvest.org and Pickyourown.org are two websites to locate an orchard near you. Check listings for additional fall activities: corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hay rides.

Apple picking

There are hundreds of apple varieties to choose from; one to fit every taste and texture preference. Local orchards often grow regional apple varieties you don’t see at the grocery store.

A few of my favorites:

  • Favorite eating apples: Melrose and Mutsu
  • Favorite baking apples: Fuji and Grimes Golden
  • Favorite sauce apples: McIntosh and Cortland
  • Favorite pie apples: Jonagold and Empire

After apple picking

Put all those apples to good use. Crock pot apple butter and apple crisp are yummy fall treats to share with friends.

Crockpot apple butter

Ingredients

1 peck apples, cored, peeled, sliced
4 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt

Directions

  1. Place apple meat in a large bowl.
  2. Combine sugars, spices and salt in a crock pot. Turn to high for 1 hour.
  3. Stir in as many apples that will fit. Reduce setting to the low setting and cook 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 8-10 hours apples will have cooked down considerably. Add remaining apples, stir and cook an additional 8-10 hours.
  5. Processes butter in a food processor.
  6. Fill jars and process jars in accordance with safe canning guidelines.

Apple Crisp

apple crispIngredients

8 cups tart cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1½ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup butter softened plus additional for greasing pan
Dash salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
½ cup pecans, chopped and toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats and butter, salt and seasonings to create crumbles.
  3. Grease a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish with butter. Spread apples evenly on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Spoon crumbles over apples. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

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