I have never done a pick your own. Not apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, ANYTHING! Growing up, I lived less than a mile from a place called Little Green Apples Fruit Farm. You could go into the store there and literally get any produce you wanted, but it was already picked for you. My husband couldn’t believe it. I lived, as he said, in the middle of nowhere, how could I not have picked my own stuff? I tried to tell him that my grandmother did had 2 apple trees and a pear tree so I did pick my own. He shot me down saying that it didn’t count. Last summer we went strawberry picking and I loved it. I knew that I wanted to do it more this summer. Now that August is upon us, I was excited to set up a trip.
We had lots of fun doing this. You are pretty much trapped inside a fenced so Doug took Connor and I had Amelia strapped to me and we set off in different directions to gather blueberries. I am always amazed and how strong this little 9 month old is. As quickly as I could put them into my basket, she was eating them. I might have had another 1/2 lb of berries if it weren’t for her. Connor was really no different. Doug said that he would pick 2 and eat 1. There were oodles and oodles of berries so it took us about 45 min to fill up our 2 baskets, especially when we were having to work twice as hard to compete with our scavengers. We got about 3 lbs of berries. I brought them home and froze them all to use in pancakes and in Connor’s morning yogurt.
I don’t think that I have ever seen so many peach trees in my life! They weren’t all ripe, but they were good size peaches. I had done a little research beforehand to learn how to pick the best peaches (because I’m slightly crazy) and knew that the peaches we picked would ripen at room temperature on my counter as long as they pulled off the tree fairly easily. The 2 very ripe ones that we picked, Connor and Doug devoured before we left the orchard. Connor loved going around asking if the peaches he found could be picked. I would say he had more fun with the peaches than he did the blueberries. Amelia tried to pick peaches, but she quickly got distracted with the leaves and started pulled them off the trees. She had more fun with the blueberries since she could steal them right out of the basket, she couldn’t do that with the peaches. We got LOTS of peaches, 2 huge bags to be exact. We we got home I put them all out on the counter to ripe. I knew that I wanted to make peach jam since it’s my favorite! I also wanted to cut up some peaches to freeze for later in the year since both Connor and Amelia love to eat peaches for breakfast with yogurt or in their cereal.
I blanched all the peaches to get the skins off. I cut them into bit size pieces and split them into 2 piles, jam and freeze. The Jam pile might have been just slightly bigger than the freeze pile. I did way more work picking them and cooking them so I felt I should get a little more in my pile and it’s not like Connor does eat half my food anyway. I split up the freeze pile into little containers and put those containers into baggies for extra protection. The jam pile got put into a pot with some sugar and lemon juice. Since I didn’t want to go through the trouble of using pectin, I let it sit out for about an hour so that they peaches could macerate a little and bring out their own juices (which contain natural pectin). I brought the peaches/sugar/lemon juice to a boil and let it boil for 20-25 minutes. I would go in about every 5 min and mash it with a potato masher and stir it around a little. After about 25 min, I took it off the heat to let it cool down a little. When cool, I put in a couple of mason jars and stored it in the fridge. It should stay good for a couple of months – although I doubt it will make it 3 weeks. I couldn’t help but taste the jam…mmmm mmmm. It was mighty tasty. If you want my Jam recipe, just ask!!! It’s amazing!
Lyman Orchards had a couple of types that I had really never heard of. No granny smith, golden delicious, or gala. I really feel that there are only a couple of overall types anyway: Sweet, tart, and good for baking. We were the only ones in the apple orchard. Everyone else that was there was going to the sunflower maze. It looked really fun but with a 2 year old I figured that we would get about 1/3 of the way in and then he would have a meltdown to get out….so maybe next year
Anyway – back to apples. Connor was so excited to be picking apples, he didn’t even want to be bothered with removing them from the tree. We caught him eating an apple right off the tree! When we called him on it, he just walked away like nothing happened. Doug did go over and remove the apple so no poor sap picked that apple and got home to find a Connor bite taken out of it. We picked a crazy amount of apples. My counter was covered when we unloaded them. I was really excited to make applesauce. I LOVE applesauce. I used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe to make my applesauce. I used apple cider from Lyman’s Orchards which I think made the applesauce extra amazing and I increase the brown sugar to 3/4 cup. I don’t blend my applesauce in a food processor, I like it chunky so I used a potato masher to mush it up.
I also made apple cinnamon pull apart bread. I used canned cinnamon rolls and coated the apples in a sugar cinnamon mixture and then just layered it in a bunt pan. I would have taken a picture of it, but Doug almost all of it before I could even get my camera out! Apparently it was good.
My favorite thing to make with apples though is apple pie. It’s my grandmother’s recipe with a couple little tweeks. If you want to know about that, you can watch this video. It shows how I make the pie and even goes into detail of how to do the lattice work on the top
We had LOTS of fun going and picking our own fruit. I am really excited to do find a pumpkin patch this fall to pick our own pumpkins. I can carve a mean pumpkin so keep an eye out for that coming up on the blog! Did you go picking this summer? If you did let me know where and what you got. What did you make from it? Let me know! I’m not off to engorge myself with apple pie and peach jam!