Apple Picking: New Fall Tradition?


Living in Michigan for a little over a decade now has given me the opportunity to start building some traditions. My partner and I frequently visit some local farms and orchards for fruit and vegetables throughout the year, but one thing we decided to do this year was pick some apples.

When I was a kid, my family moved from place to place a lot. Dad was in the military, so we lived in or near a series of military bases. I spent a lot of my high school years in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been the source of endless jokes from my partner.

When I was five or so, we lived in Rhode Island for a few years. I remember one fall we went apple picking. I remember huge trees, and a worker climbing up them to pick the best apples, only to find they had holes in them. As a five year old, I wasn’t concerned, I just liked being out and doing things.

It’s been a long, long time since then, and I hadn’t been apple picking since. We buy apples from the orchard every year, and usually enjoy a half-bushel or so throughout the winter. We never went out to pick them ourselves, though. So, this year, we thought; why not?

This is not an apple tree.

Our favorite apple orchard to visit is Schultz Fruitridge Farms. I think it was our friend Eric who first discovered the place, along with the joy of Honeycrisp apples, back in 2013 or so. It’s a relatively short drive from where we live, and even though Eric has since moved to Florida, we make sure to visit a few times every year.

This year, we decided we would go out apple picking. Before we did, we tried a few new varieties of apples. I like sweeter apples, my partner likes tangier varieties. He’s also very picky about apple skins; Honeycrisp were his favorite because the skin is thin and easy to eat. I usually peel my apples first anyway, so it didn’t really matter to me.

We tried out several varieties of apples, including Ambrosia, Golden Supreme, and Evercrisp. Our new favorites, though, are the ones we decided to hand pick: Shizukas.

Shizuka Apples in the tree
These apples are about the size of softballs!

Shizuka apples were first developed in 1969, and released commercially in 1986. They’re apparently a cross between Golden Delicious and the Indo apple, which is a Japanese apple variety. They’re crisp, sweet, and slightly tangy, perfect for eating.

The day we decided to go apple picking was pretty windy, chill but not cold, and partly cloudy. In short: just about perfect. We walked out to the orchard and browsed the trees, of which there were many, mostly off-limits. The different varieties are only available for picking for a couple of weeks, and there’s usually only a few varieties available any given week.

Rows and rows of apple trees as far as the eye can see.

As it turns out apples get pretty heavy, so we only picked about half a bushel to bring back. Then we shopped. We make a point of buying some doughnuts from the orchard every year, since they’re fresh-made and delicious. Who doesn’t love a hot, fresh doughnut on a cool fall day?

I gotta say, even though Covid has been locking down a lot of the things we do every year, it’s still nice to get out and enjoy nature. We’re definitely going to make this one of our regular traditions!

Did you like this post? If you want to find out what we did with the apples, here’s a hint: apple crumble is delicious. What would you do with a half a bushel of apples?

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