Tips For Apple-Picking in New England

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There is nothing like fall in New England.

People fly here from all over the world to experience the kind of culture we’ve built around the season where the days are short and the nights are bone-chillingly cold, the leaves glitter like gold and the pumpkins grow larger than most small vehicles. We’re a pleasant bunch once October hits. The Red Sox are usually in the playoffs (no further commentary please) and you might as well be happy because you know what? It’s not winter yet, and that’s a beautiful thing.

There really is no better way to spend a lovely fall day in New England than by jumping in a car and going to the nearest orchard for a day of apple-picking, apple-cider donuts (they exist, I had two of them), and gallons of apple cider. This is exactly what I did last weekend when I drove with my family and a few friends up to an orchard near Concord, New Hampshire for a day of autumnal celebration. But it isn’t all fun and games, people. Apple-picking can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re a rookie. Here’s some of my tips for having an apple-filled, stress-free day.

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1. DO go leaf-peeping.

Let me just say that I hate this expression with the fury of a thousand suns, but still, you should do it. Take a look around you and appreciate where you are. The red, gold, yellow and orange leaves can be astounding, like watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. You don’t get foliage like this in any other part of the world, so take a minute and peep those leaves until your heart’s content. Unless you’re the one driving, then you might want to peep the road instead.

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2. DO NOT try to catch falling apples by balancing a basket on your head.

Apple trees are pretty small, as far as trees go. You don’t need the extra height. Plus the baskets are pretty heavy sans apples and will start to hurt your brain after a while (my friend Abby, pictured above, can verify this). The best way to find some premium apples is to go to the middle of the tree and look up. From there, you have the best angle to see which apples are ripe or rotten, or to see which ones have been claimed as apartments by creepy crawlies. Seriously, try it. You’ll get the best apples in the whole orchard.

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3. DO NOT try to climb the apple trees.

You will fall, and it will hurt.

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4. DO try new kinds of apples and start noticing how different they are from one another.

Do you know the difference between a Gala apple and a McIntosh? Do you prefer Red Delicious to Golden Delicious? What are your feelings on Macouns? Like wine varietals or even different types of olive oils, apples have over 700 different varieties and they all have their own distinctive taste. I had a blast contrasting and comparing each type (I’m a McIntosh girl) and it makes you pay extra attention to what you’re eating.

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5. DO act like a goof while apple-picking, preferably with people you love.

Because food is fun, so why not? And the more people who go with you, the more apples you’ll have to eat later. It’s a win-win.

Where’s YOUR favorite place to go apple-picking?

- Alison

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