As the daughter of a third generation prune farmer and northern California native, I’m realizing more and more just how much of a city girl I am not, which is why I was particularly happy to visit the Virginia countryside and get in some good ol’ apple picking last weekend. Nothing says fall like sweet apple cider, hunting for the perfect pumpkin, and bundling up to brave the crisp autumn air.
On Sunday, we drove to Stribling Orchard, a 30-acre, pick-your-own apple farm an hour west of D.C. in Markham, Virginia. In our small party of apple pickers, my dad was the most excited one of all!
A former apple farmer, he led the charge as our unofficial tour guide with his orchard map and fruit picker in tow. He pointed out the different varieties, why Stribling Orchard doesn’t irrigate (hello, East Coast rain!), and how this farm doesn’t thin its crop.
With its rolling hills, dozens of families scrambling to pick the perfect apple, and live music coming from Stribling market, we were caught in the scene of a perfect fall day.
I’ll let you in on a little secret too: we only buy ugly apples. As farmers, we love apples with rough skin and sunburn spots. They’re not only crunchier but also sweeter.
We filled out bags and left with 2 pecks of perfectly imperfect apples! (I wasn’t sure what a peck was either, but after a little research, I discovered that a peck is about 10-12 pounds of apples and a bushel is about 48 pounds.) I now have over 20 pounds of apples for two people, which is why I made William a kale, blue cheese, and apple scramble this morning (side note: for a boy who normally eats everything, the blue cheese was a total fail).
I plan on making lots of applesauce, apple butter, and paleo-friendly apple desserts in the next few weeks. For now, the apples are happily sitting on our balcony, where the chilly D.C. air will keep them yummy for several weeks to come.
Hope your weekend was filled with a taste of fall’s magic. If not, go visit an apple farm or pumpkin patch soon!
P.S. For my D.C./Virginia-area friends, Stribling Orchard is the perfect spot to enjoy apple picking and a picnic with family and friends. They don’t charge admission, which isn’t always the case with pick-your-own apple farms. For apples, they charge $15/peck and $25/bushel, if you think you can eat that many! They also have a darling bakery serving baked goods, jams, caramel apples, and, of course, hot apple cider. Take the scenic route home and stop at one of the beautiful wineries nearby!