The fun of apple picking in Massachusetts apple orchards provides a great outdoor adventure for the entire family. The reward--containers full of fresh, crisp apples ready for munching, cooking or baking--makes all the work worth it. While apple picking is limited to the southeastern part of the state, plenty of orchards exist to give apple pickers a choice in variety and picking dates.
Most of the state's you-pick orchards are located in the southeastern part of the state where warmer temperatures keep the trees safe from early freezes. A large number of orchards may also be found around Boston.
Massachusetts apple orchards grow a variety of apples with most maturing in the early fall. Most orchards grow several types of apples, giving pickers a chance to harvest the ones they most want. Some of the varieties include McIntosh, Cortland, Northern Spy, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp. Some orchards also grow Ginger Gold, an apple that matures in late summer--giving pickers an early season choice. The best way to find out what's ready for picking is to call the orchard in advance.
Items to Bring
While some orchards provide containers for apple pickers, it's wise to bring containers that can transport the apples back home. Sunscreen, hats and water also come in handy to prevent sunburn while keeping hydrated. For day-long pickers or families with children, lunch and snacks also make the day more fun.
How to Pick Apples from the Trees
The ripest apples grow on the outer edges of the trees. Pickers should look for apples without blemishes, grasp the apple firmly in the palm of the hand and quickly twist it off the branch. This releases the apple from the tree. If the stem is still attached, that means the apple is fully ripe. To avoid bruising, apples should be carefully placed in the container.
A number of orchards, such as the Belkin Family Lookout Farm, turn the apple-picking experience into a fun event. At the Belkin farm in South Natick, a colorful toy-like train takes apple pickers through the large fields. The farm also features a petting zoo, pony rides, guided tours and a small farmer's market offering produce.
Festivals and Farmers Markets
Apple festivals make another great way to enjoy the autumn colors, learn more about the varieties of apples available, and try some tasty apple treats. The Apple Festival in Ware and the Wachusett Mountain AppleFest in Princeton are just a few offered around the state.