“The garden of love is green without limit and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy. Love is beyond either condition: without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.” ~ Rumi
All The Fall Things
I admit I was not ready to welcome autumn. Part of it was I hate the cold, and the other part is that I had my traditions in New York. Not living there anymore, it was incredibly bittersweet and I admit I felt a little melancholy that I wouldn’t be able to do them this year.
What I failed to remember, was that my hometown could be the mascot for all things Autumn. Seriously, it is the walking poster for the Basic Girl and the Han Solo Season. From the stunning foliage, to the mountain peaks with farms scattered in the valleys below, tourists, tour buses, and even bloggers pay homage and visit my little town in the White Mountains. With just twenty thousand residents encompassing several towns, it is easy to forget that it is such a well known tourist destination, especially in the autumn.
For four years I even worked at the White Mountain Cider Company, which was renowned for their pressed cider, cider donuts, and restaurant. It sometimes felt like it was fall every day of the year with the abundant scents of nutmeg and cinnamon. There really is no better place to celebrate autumn and do autumnal things then in the White Mountains, and as a whole, New England.
It may not have been the traditions I had created in New York the last seven years, I still made and continue to make the most of my fall and that began with apple picking. And lord did I go apple picking! I didn’t go just once, but multiple times. My parent’s house was over run with apples and I was able to make all the apple goodies, including my favorite: homemade applesauce.
Pie Tree Orchard
Much like in New York, you have your pick of apple orchards in New England. My favorite is located in Sweden, Maine which is about a forty minute drive. Pietree Orchard is an expansive and diverse farm owned by Stephen King and his wife who are huge conservationist. Established almost ninety years ago, when it was put on the market in 2007, the King family bought it to preserve and keep it as a working farm.
They grow over a hundred different types of vegetables and fruit including a wide variety of apples, some I have never even heard of. They have a farm stand that is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving, where they sell their produce, baked goods, jams, and even pizza.
With gorgeous views of the White Mountains, it is the perfect place to spend a few hours or a whole day there. Taking pictures and enjoying the outdoors. They have picnic tables you can eat at, as well as games including corn hole. The staff are incredibly welcoming making you feel right at home.
The orchards are vast and expand on either side of the road. Depending on the day and season, one side or both will be open. They sell apples by the half or 1/4 bushel and you have to buy the bags before you pick in the country store.
Unlike many of the orchards in New York, Pietree is very easy going about apple-picking. While they ask you to respect the trees, they do not watch what you are doing nor do they go through your things like some farms do after picking.
The apple trees are in neat rows and labelled, making picking easy. Every time I went, they had different apples available to pick. As I mentioned earlier, they had dozens of different kinds, some I had never even heard of, but that were delicious. Though my two favorites will always be honey crisp and fuji.
Apple Picking Or Picture Taking?
As my friends and I joked, “Some apple picking, a lot of picture taking.” It is such a a gorgeous spot and yes I was completely fine being basic and doing it for the gram. Thankfully my friends and family members felt the same way.
Being completely honest, it probably took us fifteen minutes to pick apples and about two hours to take pictures. And that included filling up half bushel bags. But it was also the perfect way to spend an afternoon. We lucked out with gorgeous weather, and it ended up being warmer then usual which is such a rarity this time of year.
It was so much fun to frolic amongst the trees, picking apples, eating them, AND using them as props. I worked on my juggling skills, which I unfortunately will never have a job as a juggler in Cirque Du Soleil, darn it. Now a competition for chugging cider might be a different story.
I went multiple times with friends and family. I got to go with my brother and his kiddos which was a ton of fun. They were great little pickers. After our
picture taking apple picking, we bought pizza which had been calling my name every time I visited. They even had a gluten free crust and it was SO yummy.
We also bought cider, which I say this after working in a cider mill (which had been my favorite), is probably the best I have ever had. NOTHING beats fresh pressed cider. While I love cider, and have bought it in store, fresh cider, which is free from preservatives and has a very quick shelf life, (because it ferments) is phenomenal.
All The Apples
With all the apple picking I did, I was left with a ton of apples. More then I thought I knew what to do with. My brother even gave me the ones he picked with his kiddos to do bake with.
Alas when baking with apples, they go quickly! I made two large pans of apple crisp (My recipe here) which I saved for the holidays, and a smaller pan to eat right away because after all that hardwork of peeling apples, I had to taste test of course.
While I do love apple crisp, I LOVE applesauce even more. Much like cider, nothing beats home made applesauce (My own recipe here) especially warmed. Being free of preservatives and unnecessary ingredients, it is s yummy and extremely easy to make. The hardest part is peeling all those apples you need! I made about a dozen large mason jars and froze most of them. Alas, we have already gone through most of them! My New Hampshire family had never had my applesauce and I was so excited for them to try it. They loved it, as did my niece and nephews who are usually such picky eaters.
It sounds so basic, but apple picking really is one of my favorite fall activities. I don’t get as excited picking pumpkins, as I do going apple picking.
Do you like apple picking? Have you been this year? What is your favorite apple treat?