Apple-Picking 101: Answering Your Most Common Questions

apple picking 101

Apple picking 101 because it’s that time of year! Autumn is a time that brings about many cherished traditions, and one that stands out for its wholesome, family-friendly appeal is apple picking. With orchards full of ripe, juicy apples, it’s no wonder people look forward to venturing out to pick their own every year; it’s an experience that allows you to connect with nature in a delightful outdoor activity. But before you head to your local orchard, you may have a few questions about the apple-picking experience. We’re here at Chelan Ranch Organics to answer the most common ones!

What Time of Year Should I Go Apple-Picking? 

Apple-picking season varies depending on your location and the apple varieties you’re interested in. Generally, you can start as early as late summer and continue into early fall. We began harvesting our low-elevation SweeTango apples in late August. We’re currently picking the same variety but will soon start picking our Honeycrisp apples at our high-elevation orchard. This year’s apple harvest at Chelan Ranch is earlier than in years past.

Which Apple Varieties Should I Look For? 

There are numerous apple varieties, each with its unique flavor and texture. Popular choices include Honeycrisp for thin skin, juicy sweet-tart, Granny Smith for tartness, and Fuji for sweetness. Ask the staff at Chelan Ranch staff for recommendations based on your preferences.

What Should I Bring With Me? 

Bring comfortable weather-appropriate clothing and footwear for walking in the apple-picking orchard. Layered clothing is often a good choice, allowing you to adjust to changing temperatures. Remember sunscreen and a hat on a sunny day. We provide a box sized appropriately for the amount of apples you want. In addition, we accept credit cards, Venmo, or cash as a payment method.
Remember your camera or Smartphone to capture memories of your apple-picking adventure. We have picturesque views worth documenting!
If your apple-picking crew gets hungry, you can bring picnic supplies. We provide picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal.

How Do I Know If an Apple is Ripe?

Ripe apples are firm to the touch and have vibrant, well-developed colors. Different apple varieties may have various color indicators, so asking the orchard staff for guidance is helpful if you need clarification. Smell the apple near the stem end. Ripe apples often have a pleasant, fruity aroma. If it smells fragrant, it’s likely ripe. Specific ripeness indicators can vary depending on the apple variety. Different varieties have slightly different colors, textures, and fragrances when ripe. We’re happy to show you the best apples to look for.

Can I Taste the Apples While Picking? 

Many orchards allow you to sample apples before you pick them. We’re one of those orchards. We’re happy to let you test to find the perfect apple with your desired taste.

Are There Any Special Techniques for Picking Apples? 

Treat the apple tree carefully to ensure it continues producing fruit in future seasons. If the apple is within arm’s reach, gently cup it in your hand. For most apples, a gentle twist and lift will do the trick. However, if an apple doesn’t come off quickly, don’t force it; you could break the branch or snap off the entire spur. The spur is the bud for next year’s apple. Ask for assistance for hard-to-reach apples. Handle the apples gently to prevent bruising or damaging the fruit. Place them in your box or bag with care.

How Should I Store My Picked Apples? 

Once you get your apples home, washing them to remove dirt or residue is a good idea. You’ll want to wash off the organic kaolin clay applied for sun protection on our apples at Chelan Ranch Organics—store apples in the refrigerator. Consider placing them in the crisper drawer, ideally in perforated plastic bags, to maintain humidity and prevent them from absorbing other odors in the fridge.
Apples release ethylene gas, accelerating the ripening of other fruits and vegetables. Store apples away from other produce, especially potatoes, onions, and leafy greens.

 Can I Bring My Kids or Pets?

Many orchards are family-friendly and welcome children, but checking the orchard’s specific policies is always best. At Chelan Ranch, we welcome children! Apple picking is a family-friendly activity enjoyed by people of all ages, including children. The visit is an opportunity to teach your children where their food comes from, the apple-growing process, and the importance of supporting local agriculture. We encourage families to let their kids participate in the apple-picking process, allowing them to choose apples and place them in the box.
If you have pets, check the orchard’s policy regarding pets. Some orchards may allow pets on a leash, while others may restrict or prohibit pets entirely due to safety and sanitary concerns. We apologize in advance; our food safety protocol prohibits animals in the orchards.

What Can I Make with My Picked Apples?

The possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking and baking with apples! Depending on the variety of apples you’ve picked, you can experiment with different recipes to create a wide range of delicious dishes and treats. Add apples in pies, crisps, sauces, and salads as a quintessential fall flavor. Give your sandwiches a delicious improvement by adding apple slices to your standard cheddar grilled cheese or ham! Make your dessert healthier by eating sliced apples dipped in caramel, peanut butter, almond butter, or cheese. Or hollow out apples and fill them with oats, brown sugar, butter, and spices. Bake until the apples are tender, and have a warm, comforting dessert.

Can I Pick Apples Even If I’m inexperienced? 

Absolutely! Apple picking is a beginner-friendly activity. Orchards provide guidance and a fantastic way for people of all ages to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. Since our UPick prices are less than retail, you can save some money.

Apple picking is not just about harvesting apples; it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories with loved ones and savor the season’s flavors. Armed with the answers to these common questions, you can confidently plan your apple-picking adventure and make the most of this delightful autumn tradition. So, grab your hat and head to Chelan Ranch Organics to enjoy the crisp air and the delicious rewards of your efforts!