Every month, Melina Hammer, Food52's very own Hudson Valley correspondent, is serving up all the bounty that upstate New York has to offer.
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Did you know? New York State's official state fruit — and, who knew, state muffin — is the apple. Appropriately, apple picking heralds in the fall in the Hudson Valley. From August through October, the crisp, sweet air is just right for orchard day trips.
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A few tips for apple picking
- Remember to check the weather. Recent rains can cause muddy conditions, so dress accordingly.
- Each orchard sets their prices differently (admission per person, parking fee, pay per bag before or after filling, pay by weight). Familiarize yourself with what to expect.
- Research the apple varietals available for when you visit. Not all apple types ripen at the same time, and certain parts of orchards may be reserved for cider production or farmers markets, not pick-your-own (PYO).
- If you want to make it a day with your furry friend, check beforehand to see if the orchard allows pets. Some orchards do not allow dogs on their farm, especially those with petting zoos.
Now that you know what to look for, here's a handy list of some wonderful orchards throughout the Hudson Valley.
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Where to pick apples in New York state
Maynard Farms, Ulster Park, NY. Located on rolling hills, overlooking the majestic Hudson River. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day wandering and harvesting. Varietals include Stayman Winesap, Braeburn, and Evercrisp (my personal eaten-out-of-hand favorite, without question).
Fix Brothers, Hudson, NY. Established in 1899, these orchards have been worked by five generations of farmers. In addition to apples (you can find Jonagold, Gala, Crispin, Fortune, and then some), Fix Brothers orchards are highly sought out for their legendary cherry season, including sour cherries.
Greig Farm, Red Hook, NY. Since 1942, this farm has been family-run. In 1975, they dedicated the farm as a destination to share the experience of agriculture, and PYO took center stage. Their farm practices take special measures with sustainability in mind, like incorporating circular agriculture, or the idea that every source of waste can be used as an input elsewhere on the farm to build soils and the overall health of crop ecosystems. Included on the 70 acres dedicated to PYO, depending on the season: asparagus, strawberries, pumpkins, and, of course, apples. Apple varietals include: Blondee, Red Rome, Jonamac, Empire, and more. Beyond seasonal produce, stock up on grass-fed beef, poultry, cheeses, eggs, raw honey, and craft beer.
Stone Ridge Orchard, Stone Ridge, NY. A 115-acre farm on the beautiful rolling hills of Stone Ridge. During harvest season, expect to find Golden Russet, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, and Macoun apples. The orchard farm stand is open Friday through Sunday, selling produce, cider doughnuts, pies, apple cider, their award-winning hard ciders, and wood-fired pizza, served al fresco.
Love Apple Farm, Ghent, NY. With views of the Catskill Mountains, this farm has been part of the agricultural community in the Hudson Valley for over 50 years. During picking season, you can get Honeycrisp, Gala, and Ruby Mac, to name a few. Also: various berries, peaches, and plums through their growing seasons. Love Apple Farm market showcases local producers, including cheese and dairy, breads, honey, maple syrup, and farm-raised meats and poultry.
Cedar Heights Orchards, Rhinebeck, NY. A family-owned orchard for over 150 years. Their trees are situated high on a large hillside with views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Expect unusual apples such as Calville Blanc d'Hiver (tart, effervescent, and originally from France) as well as Yarlington Mill, Cortland, and Pixie Crunch.
Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction, NY. Started in 1913, this farm has a diversity of crops, with organic practices placed front and center. Their PYO, eco-certified apples include: Gala, Gingergold, Earligold, and Chestnut Crabapples. Try their hard cider tastings at the orchard bar and visit the farm store to stock up on fresh produce.
Rose Hill Farm, Red Hook, NY. Their mantra: "Fresh, local produce is most delicious, nourishing, and rewarding when picked by you." The farm is committed to preserving the environment through the use of renewable energy, water conservation, and responsible farming practices. Throughout the seasons, look forward to an array of sweet and sour cherries, berries of many kinds, plums, apricots, and peaches, in addition to lots and lots of apples. Some highlights: Gingergold, Shikuza, Mutsu, Twenty Ounce, and Gala. They also have a winery and cider brand of the same name — visit their taproom and bottle shop to bring more of the harvest home.
Wilklow Orchards, Highland, NY. Wilklow Orchards strives to farm with sustainable practices, "because we want this farm to last us another six generations," according to their farmers. From currants to squash to apples, they grow a range of produce. Their PYO apple season includes Winesap, Rome, Fuji, and Cameo. Stop by their farm bar, serving hard cider and local beers, and their food truck if you haven't packed a picnic. And yes, they make delicious cider doughnuts, too.
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What to do with your apple haul: