Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Let's Go Apple Picking!

As I said a few weeks ago, one of my favorite fall activities is apple picking. There's just something about walking through an apple orchard and picking your own apples. Some to sample on the spot and some to bring home. And what do I do with bag after bag of apples? Apple pie, apple sauce, apple cake, apple crisp, and so many other things.

Unfortunately, we haven't been apple picking since moving to Chicago. There are apple orchards nearby, but we've been busy for too many weekends. This weekend would have been the perfect one to go with the summery weather. But it didn't happen with the curtains (sneak peek!) and marathon.

Never fear! One of the benefits of a young blog is plenty of pictures and material from before starting the blog :) And there's still a chance to go apple picking since apples are generally available for picking between August and October or November. That obviously varies based on the location, weather, and growing conditions.

Since I write about topics with a financial spin, I got to wondering how fiscally chic apple picking is. So off to the farmer's market, grocery store, and Target to do a little "market" research. At the grocery store and Target, apples to cost between $0.99 and $2.49 per pound. While apples at the farmers market ran about $1 or $2 per pound.

An apple orchard may charge based on the weight of the apples you pick. Or they may charge an admission fee which includes a set amount of apples with an option to purchase additional bags. Here's a sampling from a few pick your own farms around the Midwest:
  • Eckert's (multiple locations near St. Louis) - $1.89/pound
  • Kuiper's Family Farm (west of Chicago, IL) - $8.50/person (includes hay ride and 1/4 peck), $15/additional peck. One peck weighs about 10.5 pounds, so about $3.24/pound including the hay ride. The additional peck would be $1.43/pound.
  • Patterson Fruit Farm (east of Cleveland, OH) - $0.95/pound. There's also a family fun fest for $4 or $6 depending on the day
By just comparing prices, picking your own apples costs about the same as buying apples from the grocery store or farmer's market. Possibly more or less depending on the variety.
But there's something else intrinsically valuable about pick your own apple orchards....the experience! There's more than just the orchard. There's the hay ride, a trip to the restaurant, live music, a corn maze, or pony rides for kids. Remember a while back when I talked about buying happiness? Picking your own apples with friends and family is a recipe for happy memories which leads to stronger relationships and longer-lasting happiness.

Apple cake recipe found at Smitten Kitchen
Have you been apple picking this year? What's your favorite thing to make with freshly picked apples? Leave a link with your favorite recipe in the comments.

If you're not sure what kind of apples to pick, here's a helpful chart from Bauman Orchards showing apples, their flavors, and best uses.

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  1. I love apple picking! I'm a little bias because that's where we got engaged, but I do love it!

  2. Hey
    those prices aren't too terrible, considering you're having fun, getting some food and getting away from something else. You can look at the activity in context AKA would you be doing something more expensive otherwise?
    Also, if you're just making applesauce, ask for the bruised ones. I can give you an applesauce recipe if you want.

  3. Stephanie - That's a good bias to have :)

    Jeff - Thanks for bringing up the point about whether you'd be doing something more expensive with your time. Good thing the PF bloggers are keeping me in check.

    And thanks for the reminder about buying the bruised apples for applesauce or pies. So many times I buy produce based on their looks, but eat it for its taste. As long as the fruit isn't rotting, you can easily cut out the bruised parts or just include it in the pot.


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