Fall is apple-picking season, and it is one of my favorite yearly traditions. This year, we tried a new orchard, Beardsley's Cider Mill and Orchards, in Shelton, Connecticut. For years we picked apples at another orchard, closer to our home in Fairfield. At that particular farm, you are required to purchase a certain number of bags depending on the number of people in your party, and that was often far more apples than I wanted to pick (and ended up costing a small fortune). At Beardsley's, it is done much more fairly, where you are given a bag when you enter the orchard, you pick as many or as few apples as you wish, and when you leave, the bags are weighed and you pay per pound of apples picked. We picked four good sized bags of apples for around $25. Compared to what I unwillingly spent last year, that was quite a deal. Upon leaving, I also realized that you are able to bring your own recyclable bags to use while picking. Those of you who read my Season to Taste blog know how I feel about that, so next year I will surely remember to do so.
On the day we visited, the apples that were ripe for picking were Winesap and Mutsu (the varieties and rows you are able to pick are clearly marked with big signs). The Winesaps are a beautiful, deep red and the Mutsus are greenish, with a yellowish-peach hue. They are both decent eating apples, but because they are a bit on the tart side, I think they are better suited for cooking. We picked both types in equal amounts, although my young girls decided the Winesaps were "prettier".
Beardsley's has a country store that sells a larger selection of apple varieties, pies, fabulous cider donuts, and specialty items like apple butter, jams, local honey, maple syrup, and apple chutneys. They also press their own fresh apple cider right on the premises, which you can watch (pressing is done on weekends between about 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, and other random times as well).
While you're in the area, Jones' Farm is right down the road, where they have a corn maze, pumpkins, hay rides, and even wine tasting on weekends (at the main farm location)! For a fun fall excursion, make a day of it and head to Shelton!
Be sure to check out my recipe for Apple Crisp, which will be posted on October 14 over at my Season to Taste blog!
Beardsley's Cider Mill and Orchards, LLC
278 Leavenworth Road
Jones' Farm (Pumpkinseed Hill Farm)
130 Beardsley Road