apple picking in the fall

I love apple picking in the fall. The smell of fall brings out the farmer in me. We went out to the end of Long Island this weekend where the leaves are just starting to turn. The bugs are gone. The sun is warm. I would say the crowds are gone, but that is not the case.

We went to The Milk Pail in Watermill is the perfect orchard. The trees are low to the ground so everyone can reach up and pull an apple off the tree. This orchard is very organized . There is a table, before you enter the orchard, with every type of apple available to taste. This way, you can insure that you pick the apple of your liking. Also, as much as apple picking would seem like a fun inexpensive family outing – it is not. We started with our 2 bag purchase – empty and waiting for you to fill. That was $40. The Milk Pail also has pumpkin picking, gourd picking and squash picking. We opted for the gourd and squash picking. That was another $25 with the cider and donuts we threw in – of course! The property is incredible and thank god they have kept the farmland instead of selling off to a developer. God knows what that property is worth.

There are a variety of other places to pick apples around the New York area. We used to go upstate where the supply is endless. There are literally somewhere between 650-700 apple farms in New York State. We used to go to Wilkens Apple Farm. This website will give you a few places in the area of Westchester and Long Island that are not too far from the city. Long Island and Westchester. Another great site is Pick Your Own. Lots of orchards are listed with recipes and other available pickings through out the year.

Of course, half the fun is going home and doing something with all those apples. We made caramel apples with tons yummy additions mashed into the caramel. Last year I had purchased a caramel apple kit at Williams Sonoma. Unfortunately they do not carry that kit this year. But, simply take loads of caramels and melt them either in the microwave or a double boiler until the caramel is completely melted. Be wary, the caramel gets cold again very quickly. Take short wooden sticks and push into the top of the apples. Dip the apples in the caramel and then roll them into your goodies of choice. We used peanut butter chips, crushed peanuts, orange/black sprinkles and small m&m’s. A low-cal treat. Not! Put the apples on wax paper to dry. I’d recommend leaving them in the refrigerator when you are done.

We also made applesauce which is easy and delicious. Use a variety of apples for this. Peel, core and quarter about 15-20 apples. Put into a big deep pot. Pour about 1-2 cups of apple cider into the pot with 1T cinnamon, 1T nutmeg and 1/2T cardamon. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to medium low. Put a top on and continue to check the pot so the apples do not burn. Stir and break up the apples as they soften. It will take about one hour to completely break down into applesauce. We made about a gallon or so. We then put the applesauce in Kerr containers for canning. Boil the jars after filled and closed for about 10 minutes to make sure they are sealed. Or, just put into the refrigerator and the applesauce should last about 2 weeks.

The last dish was of couse apple pie. Everyone has an apple pie recipe. My only advice to the perfect apple pie is to first saute the apples in butter and the ingredients that the recipe calls for (brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, etc.) until the apples get a bit soft. Also, taste the apples after this. If they are not sweet enough, add more sugar. Then, put this mixture into your pie. I have found that the apples don’t always cook as quickly as the pie crust, so this way, your apples will be soft instead of crunchy in your pie.

Happy Fall.