You-pick apple orchards remain big-time business in Indiana. The state ranks 14th in U.S. apple production, with many of the orchards geared toward you-pick consumers. Indiana's apple orchards grow more than 100 varieties of apples. With that many varieties, it seems reasonable that apple pickers are bound to find the perfect apple for their needs.
Apple orchards may be found throughout Indiana, many of them growing dwarf trees well-suited for you-pick orchards. This means no ladders are required, making apple picking appropriate for all ages. To find out when fruit is mature and ready to be picked, it's best to call the orchards and find out which varieties are mature.
Seventy percent of Indiana's orchards grow popular apple varieties such as Red Delicious, Jonathan, Gala, Rome, Fuji and Golden Delicious. The other 30% of the state's orchards grow 95 varieties including Ginger Gold, known for its early maturity dates and Honeycrisp, a slightly tart, extra crisp apple.
How to Pick
Apples taste best when picked ripe right off the tree and appear to have no blemishes. Simply hold the apple in the palm of your hand, then give it a quick twist. The apple should come loose from the branch with its stem intact. Carefully placing the fruit in the container prevents the apple from getting any bruises.
What to Bring
In late summer, temperatures can get fairly warm in Indiana. Bring plenty of water. Consider adding some snacks or even a lunch. Use head coverings and sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Most apple orchards expect pickers to bring their own containers, too.
A great way to find out about the area's apples is to attend an apple festival. Several festivals take place in Indiana each year, including the Apple Festival of Kendallville. This festival focuses on pioneer life from 1830 to 1860 and includes plenty of apple-related food such as apple burgers, dumplings and fritters. Another not-to-miss festival is the Nappanee Apple Festival; this festival has been running for more than 30 years and features parades, crafts, carnival rides and plenty of pie-eating activities.
Unless the apples picked at the orchard get used right away, store them to keep them fresh for as long as possible. Keep apples at temperatures of 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit in a basement or refrigerator. Since some varieties of apples stay fresh longer than others, it helps to ask the orchard how long fresh apples can be stored while retaining their texture and taste.