Possibly unpopular opinions about apple picking

apples looking up at tree blue sky

By Greg

Upstate New York is one of the world's premier spots for growing apples. And one of the great things about living in this specific part of it is that we're close to many different orchards.

So, let's just be clear about this: Yes, go apple picking. Go apple picking however you want. Have fun in the way you want to have fun. This isn't my lawn. You don't have to get off it.

But as someone who's become a bit of an apple nerd -- and can think of few places better places to be than an orchard on a warm autumn weekend -- I've developed some curmudgeonly opinions about apple picking.

And you're probably going to disagree with a few of them.

Agritainment is no fun

My ideal apple picking experience is low key. You show up, you get the picking sheet, and head out into the orchard. There's no hubbub. There are no farm animals to pet. There's no hayride. There are no crowds for the corn maze. It's just really chill.

I get why orchards have these things. They help draw crowds, especially families with kids. And given how hard it can be to make a buck as a farmer, I don't begrudge them a bit for doing it. I just would really rather skip all that stuff.

It's too crowded

This is a ridiculous assertion on my part. I think you should go apple picking. And if all of us go apple picking, there will be crowds.

But I've found that I enjoy apple picking a lot more when there aren't a lot of people in the orchard. There's something really peacefully about wandering the rows of trees and hearing nothing but the birds and breeze. So, if possible, I try to head out early and get some picking in before the crowds show up. Even better, though it's hard to pull off: Knocking off work early on Friday and doing some picking in the afternoon of a weekday.

Indoor voices, please

So, it's pretty clear I'm looking for calm in the orchard. To that end, I've come to the conclusion that even though it's outside, we should all be using our indoor voices. You don't have to whisper like it's a library. But maybe you don't have to shout to the people you're with over in the next row, either.

Embrace the peace. Try being quiet.

bag of apples

You probably pick too many apples

I totally understand the impulse to just keep picking apples. There are so many of them. And they're right there. And you're here, so why not?

Because you're probably picking too many. And if you don't realize that now, you will weeks from now when your fridge is still full of apples you're not going to eat. There are exceptions, of course. Maybe you're making a bunch of pies or crisps (a good way to make friends). Maybe you're going to make a ton of apple sauce to freeze (try a savory version with curry powder).

One shopping bag per person is usually enough. That's a lot of apples, even if doesn't look like it.

Honeycrisp are overrated

I make no apologies for this one. Honeycrisp are totally overrated. They just are -- they're all texture and no flavor. And given the fact that orchards around this area grow so many different types of apples -- including some really interesting or odds ones (ask about them) -- you're missing out by loading up on honeycrisp.

That said, if you all want to descend upon the rows of honeycrisp leaving the other, more interesting apples alone so I can pick them in peace... then maybe that's not so bad.

cider donut nestled in bag

It's OK to just go for the cider donuts

One of the perfect autumn moments is plucking an apple off the tree, still warm from the sun, running your finger over the subtle roughness of the skin, feeling the weight of the object in your hand, and then crunching into it. (I mean, you're allowed one apple in the orchard, right?)

But maybe trudging out in the orchard isn't for you. That's fine. If you just want to stop at the orchard's stand to pick up a bag of apples, great. And if you really just want to stop for a cider donut, there's absolutely no shame in that, either.

OK, maybe this last one is an opinion on which we can all agree.


Absolutely right! :-) especially about Honeycrisps and the Agritainment and the loud voices. Where we part company is the thought that you can have too many apples! I, for one, would welcome people bringing apples into work instead of donuts! ha ha

Are you aware of any apple orchards locally that grow heirloom apple varieties? While I'll eat most varieties of locally available apples, I find that most are pretty one note, and uninteresting. Your post reminded me of this article I read a few years ago http://www.npr.org/2014/09/19/349626755/keeping-heirloom-apples-alive-is-like-a-chain-letter-over-many-centuries and would like to visit one year for their Columbus Day weekend Heirloom Apple Day. Doh!! I missed it again!

I agree with much of this (not the farm animal part!). Overpicking is so easy when the fruit is so large. That's why I love cherry- and blueberry-picking. It's labor intensive. You can spend an hour picking those suckers and only have a moderate amount in the end. But if you're not careful, you can be done after five minutes of apple-picking.

We discovered a great, quiet place to pick apples this past weekend. Not gonna say where it is, but it's in the vicinity, just a touch farther out than the normal places.

Re: too many apples. If you feel like picking a lot, you could pick a bag for the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen.

We're at Scott farm once a week or so, it's one of our favorite spots in Southern Vermont. Events get fairly crowded, but it's incredibly pleasant most other times. Their cider is the best we've had.

@chrisck - What a great idea!

Inevitably, too many apples are picked and I don't know what to do with the extra. For whatever reason, I never thought about donating. Heck, as soon as I get home I realize there are too many apples - I could go drop them off at a pantry that day!

I'm going to remember this and pass it on. Thanks!

Fresh apples will last months in the drawer in your fridge. Fill it up, it's OK.

I grew up on a farm and had to pick vegetables and various types of fruits ever since I was seven years old. When my city or suburban-bred friends ask me to go apple picking as if it were a form of entertainment, I feel like laughing in their faces.

Greg, next year, please come pick apples at my house.

You can take as many as you like and they're free. I even have one of those poles to pull them off the high spots. You'll have the place to yourself, and you're welcome to bring a picnic lunch. The neighbors may be watching, but they're cool.

Greg, If any written piece personifies you, this is it. My inner voice took a coffee break, and it was as if you were sitting next to me reading this post a loud.

@theshakes: The one I'm most familiar with Samascott in Kinderhook, just because I've interviewed the owner a few times about the topic. (They grow something like 70 different types of apples.) But what I've found is that a lot of orchards, especially older ones, grow some unusual varieties. They just might not show up as part of the regular pick your own list. So it's worth asking.

@Ryan H: I think blueberry picking might be my favorite because they're not a lot of bending and there's a certain meditative quality to it.

@chrisck: That's a good idea. Thank you for sharing it.

@Jake: Makes total sense.

@Rob: That's very nice of you to offer. I might just take you up on that...

@Craig: Welcome to my curmudgeonly inner world!

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