Thursday, November 8, 2007

Apple Picking!

One of my favorite memories of this time of year growing up in Upstate New York is apple picking. Every year we'd bundle up, mom would pack a picnic lunch, and we'd pile into the car and head to Littletree Orchards. Other families and friends would usually come, and while all the parents would get out the bushel baskets and begin picking Empires (the local favorite) us kids would run free among (what seemed like) miles and rows and rows of apple trees! The orchard was called "Littletree" for a reason. Even as children, we could reach the branches and pick a perfectly crisp, ripe apple from the tree and rub a shiny spot just large enough to take a juicy bite before tossing it away and running to another tree for different type of apple. My favorites were a huge, green, very crisp variety called (appropriately) Crispin or Mutsu. I also loved the Macoun - some of them were so large I had to use two hands to hold one apple in order to bite into it.

Ahh...I miss those NY apples. They do NOT taste the same anywhere else - they have to be fresh! I don't like apples when I'm not in NY.

At some point after we had worked up an appetite, mom would get out the cider and powdered donuts, and we'd have a snack, and then my dad would organize a contest. We all had to try to find and bring back the best apple in a range of categories, such as: "Largest," "Most Red," "Smallest," (some of us would bring back berries and try to pass them off as apples), and occasionally there was the creative contestant - One year my sister was the self-declared winner of the "Most-Rotten-Apple-Still-Hanging-On-The-Tree" category.

The final hurrah was at the top of the little hill in the clearing, when the boys would have batting practice with icky apples that had fallen onto the ground. It was messy and funny and just a wonderful time.


For the record...I didn't take these photos. I refuse to go apple picking in North Carolina. I can't WAIT to go home for Thanksgiving and have some Cornell Apple Cider. The best in the world! You should all be thoroughly jealous.


Donna said...


Anonymous said...

Oh, how very sweet Karen. I remember apple picking all too well. My favorite apple was this kind called a black beauty. I've never seen it separate from that one orchard. It was an extremely dark apple, almost black outside. The inside was extremely white with veins of red color inside. Almost as if the outside color was so intense it ran to the inside, just like a newly dyed tee shirt. It must have been the apple Snow White bit. I remember thinking that as I bit into it for the first time. It was intensely sweet and juicy. There were only a few trees that produced this variety. Maybe it was a heritage variety. I've never seen it since. I also pine for Hollenbecks, their cider and donuts, and grape picking near Seneca lake. Thanks for the memories. Connie

Anonymous said...

OOOH, I love these memories. Member little N.P. toddling around with a HUGE Mutsu in his little grubby hands? I AM jealous you will get to have fresh Cornell pear apple cider in two days! My mouth is watering. I went to a farmer's market lately and saw empires and exclaimed over them and bought them, and the lady was like--"are you from NY?, everyone who likes empires is from NY."
--Winner of the rotten apple on the tree contest

Karen said...

Hurray for New Yorkers!

Peg said...

Great post. I grew up in Elmira and my Dad always brought us big boxes of Red delicious apples from Cornell; of course we went and picked apples every year, too.

I now live near Indian Ladder Orchards in Altamont, such a treat to live close enough to a wonderful working orchard to go there often!

My favorite Northeast variety is the Macoun.

My partner and I are planing to plant two apple trees in the spring, ordered from this company.

Anonymous said...

Karen, This story brought tears to my eyes, I lived those memories, I rem.. Picking the empires and than having a picnic lunch with my family. I rem the awesome pies my mother would make with the best empire. Thank you for sharing those were truley the best momories of my life.