Apple picking is one of our favorite fall traditions. We spend time together outdoors as a family, support local farmers, and learn about how and where real apples grow.
We started going to Hill Orchards in Johnston when our boys were just over a year old. We chose this farm because we always loved their apples at the Hope Street Farmers Market. We fell in love with their huge orchards filled with every apple variety we could imagine. Since then we have returned every year with our children. Even though we have sampled a few other places because Hills is unfortunately only open on weekends and holidays, we cannot imagine a year without a family trip to Hill Orchards.
There are many wonderful orchards around the Rhode Island area. If you are looking for an orchard near you to start your own family tradition or like the idea of trying some place new, check out Katy Killilea’s list of local orchards.
Helpful note: Bring your own baskets or reusable to shopping bags to avoid using plastic bags to carry home bounty. Remind kids before heading out to the orchard that they should be mindful of the farm, we do not want to damage the trees or waste the apples by picking ones we are not planning on buying. Each orchard may have its own rules. Check before picking.
Our tradition extends into the kitchen. We love baking apple pies and muffins and making apple crisp and fresh applesauce. Young kids can practice counting and help measure and mix up the ingredients.
My cast iron apple peeler/corer is still my favorite kitchen gadget, given to me as a gift over fifteen years ago. This simple contraption makes preparing apples for cooking fast and fun for kids—especially handy for small children—often with short attention spans.
We have some recipes like apple pie from the New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill we make every year but now that my kids are more adventurous eaters and want to be more involved with the cooking process, we often experiment and try new ways to enjoy our apples. My boys now love caramelized onion apple pizza with goat cheese. Last year my son and I entered the first annual Summit Fall Cook-Off at Seven Stars Bakery. The only rule was the recipe needed apples as a prominent ingredient. We had fun pouring over a variety of recipes before deciding on apple pecan muffins. The recipe gained an honorable mention and has become an after school snack favorite.
Above all, enjoy the simple bounty of reaching up for an apple, tasting out on the farm, and gathering in the kitchen to bake. It’s apple season in Rhode Island. Nothing could be better for families.
Read more on GoLocalProv. Every week I share tips on how families can make the most of their family time — including helpful hints that make parenting easier and connecting you to great local happenings.