One of the best things about that in-between stage of the seasons is the anticipation—the period when we’re looking ahead to the coming months and counting on our fingers our favorite customs and traditions.
Picking up a bag of farm-fresh apples is so entwined with fall that it’s almost a cliché. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Somehow, it’s the opposite. Here are some of our favorite local spots to pick up a bushel of apples for your next pie, crisp, or candied treat on a stick.
From common types like Jonathan and Golden Delicious to more uncommon varieties like Mutsu (a Golden Delicious/Indo cross, sweet, sharp, and juicy) and Winesap (an old variety, sweet and tangy), apples are in abundance at Mack’s Hollmeyers Orchard, which boasts more than 25 different kinds.
The orchard started picking the season’s first apples back in late June, and by now, it’s harvesting apples daily, says Rebecca Keys, who works at the orchard.
In addition to apples, peaches are a popular draw Hollmeyers—as are its prunes and Seckel and Bartlett pears. By mid-month, be sure to look for the apple cider, which Hollmeyers carries all the way through March.
3241 Fiddlers Green Rd., Mack
Hidden Valley Orchards
Visitors to Hidden Valley Orchards, in Lebanon, can pick their own apples—usually.
“This is completely reliant on Mother Nature,” says Ashley Franz, event manager and coordinator at Hidden Valley. “We first have to see how much fruit the trees are producing before we make that call.”
Assuming Mother Nature cooperates, u-pick apples at Hidden Valley should start by mid-September. The orchard offers 18 apple varieties, including some from other Ohio farms to sell at the market and apple tent, which is open throughout September. Franz suggests trying the Zestar apple, which balances an excellent acidity with sweetness—and a satisfying crunch.
In addition to apples, the orchard has a market barn of seasonal goods, a bakery counter of made-from-scratch treats, a bar with a menu of what Franz calls “crop-tails” (like the orchard’s own Blackberry Bliss carbonated blackberry wine), and an ice cream shack.
5474 North State Rt. 48, Lebanon
Starting September 11 and through October, McGlasson Farms will offer u-pick apples on weekends. U-pick varieties include Red and Golden Delicious, Winesap, Granny Smith, and more. All told, visitors can choose from 31 different apple varieties at McGlasson, says Jack McGlasson, whose parents own the orchard.
In addition to apples, McGlasson, in Hebron, Kentucky, also has a u-pick pumpkin patch, fresh apple cider, caramel apples, maple syrup, local honey, and produce.
5832 River Rd., Hebron, Kentucky
Irons Fruit Farm
In addition to seven varieties of apples, Irons Fruit Farm in Lebanon lists a range of available produce, including squash in September and u-pick pumpkins, according to the farm’s website. Visit the farm’s Facebook page to check u-pick apple availability.
Irons Fruit, a fourth-generation farm, offers more than produce; guests can find apple cider, apple butter, jams and jellies, baked goods, and more. There’s also a 12-acre corn maze, according to the website, and hayrides.
1640 Stubbs Mills Rd., Lebanon