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What to bring for a successful apple picking trip

What do you need for a successful apple picking trip?

Apple picking is a favorite autumn tradition for a reason. Not only is it a great way to get outside and enjoy nature, but at the end of your trip you’ll be left with a bounty of fresh fruit that can be used to make delicious desserts, side dishes and more. 

In order to make sure you have an enjoyable, relaxing and rewarding apple picking experience, here are a few tips and guidelines, as well as some helpful accessories that will make your next apple picking adventure an unforgettable one. 

How to plan your apple picking trip

Choose the right time

The first step when planning your apple picking trip is selecting when to go. In general, the best time for apple picking is usually September through early October. However, peak season also depends on factors such as geographic location, apple variety and regional weather conditions such as drought or too much rain.

If you know there is a specific type of apple you want to pick, do some research to see when that variety is most likely to ripen in your area. 

Find the best orchard

Once you have a date set or a general time frame in mind, you’ll want to spend some time selecting the best orchard. Every orchard will feature slightly different offerings, but choosing one with a pick-your-own option will allow you to wander through the groves, and pick the specific apples that appeal to you. 

While some apple orchards may be open during the week, many will only be open to the public on weekends. Some orchards go beyond just apple picking, offering farmer’s markets, corn mazes, hayrides and petting zoos. These are great options for families with young children. 

Always be sure to call orchards in your local area in advance to find out about available apple varieties, special events and the possibility of organic produce. Some places will also allow visitors to bring their dogs with them. 

Make a day of it

Apple picking is a great group activity for families or friends, so why not turn your apple picking trip into an all day excursion? By planning a picnic you can take full advantage of the tranquil setting while also enjoying some tasty food and drinks. 

What you need for an orchard picnic

Picnic Time Country Picnic Basket

This classic picnic basket has more than enough room to hold everyone’s favorite snacks while spending a day outdoors. The gingham liner and wicker exterior give it a vintage appeal. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Cooler

To keep foods and drinks cool while you spend the day apple picking, use this affordable and portable cooler, which is easy to carry and features a leak-proof interior. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

YETI Hopper Backflip 24

For larger groups, this backpack style cooler is the perfect picnic accessory, as it can hold up to 20 cans and features adjustable straps for all day comfort. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Scuddles Store Extra Large Picnic Blanket

Avoid bugs and dirt stains with this water-resistant picnic blanket. It’s available in different colors and sizes so you can find an option large enough to fit everyone in your household. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Hydro Flask Flex Sip Bottle

Apple picking weather can vary widely, from chilly to humid and sunny. An insulated thermos is a great accessory to bring along on your trip, as it can keep coffee and tea hot or a drink ice-cold for hours. 

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Backcountry 

Tips for picking the best apples 

Picking technique

You may be tempted to simply pull on the apple to break it from the branch, but by twisting the apple you’ll have an easier time removing the stem and knowing if it is ready to be picked. Ripe apples will separate easily after a light twist and upward pull. 

Avoid shaking the branches in order to get hard to reach apples, as this could cause multiple apples to fall, reducing the amount available to others. 

Be gentle

To avoid bruising or denting the fruit, place the apples gently into your basket or bag. Unbruised apples will generally last longer before rotting. 

Start from the outer branches

Apples located on the branches furthest from the tree's center tend to ripen first. You can usually tell if an apple is ripe if it is firm to the touch, and in the case of red varieties, has a decent amount of coloring on the skin. 

What to buy for apple picking 

EVERSPROUT 13-Foot Fruit Picker

Sometimes the best looking apples are the ones you can’t seem to reach. This 13-foot apple picker gives you access to hard-to-reach fruit without bruising or damaging the apple in the process. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Cornucopia Brands Round Wooden Baskets

A majority of orchards will provide customers with a bag or basket for use while picking apples, but if you prefer to use your own, these durable wooden baskets will hold more than enough apples. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

V&H Fruit Picking Bag

If you plan on picking more than just a handful of apples, a wearable fruit picking apron can eliminate the need to carry around a heavy basket while also giving you more freedom to move your arms and hands. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer

Chances are your hands will get dirty after hours outdoors spent in the orchard. Bring along a small travel-sized hand sanitizer to clean up after picking. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

How to use your apples 

Farm fresh apples are a delicious treat on their own, but can also be made into other tasty dishes. Here are a few ways you can utilize your apples:

  • Make apple sauce 
  • Bake a pie 
  • Try making apple butter
  • Add apple slices to salads
  • Use apples in side dishes like stuffing or slaw 
  • Brew homemade apple cider
  • Dip some in caramel


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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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