Apple picking is an excellent activity for the entire family. However, you need to know the right time to pick apples.
The apple picking season varies for different types of apples. Most apples are ready for harvest between September and October, and that’s when most farms will hold their annual “pick-your-own” events.
Since people often have a preference when it comes to the types of apples that they want to pick and eat, it’s good to choose a picking season for the apples that you and your family love. In that respect, here is some more information on different types of apples and the perfect seasons to pick them.
August Apple Picking Season
August is still warm and you might find a break from the heat and use up those last few days of the true summer in the midst of an apple orchard. Take your family on a trip of picking and tasting some of these delicious apples.
Here’s a video that shows how much fun apple picking can be.
Gala apples are a perfect summer snack with their sweet, yet fresh taste. You’ll recognize these apples by their beautiful redness interlaced with lighter stripes. They will draw you in with their characteristic aroma and thus, they are an excellent fruit to put into desserts or fruit salads.
This apple is in the shape of a heart and they are generally medium to large. You’ll find them in most orchards in late August, but some may ripen later if the climate in the area is a bit colder.
Jersey Mac Apples
The Jersey Mac apples are another wonderful August pick, as they have a sweet flavor with a bit of tartness, adding to the refreshing taste. They are not big and usually grow into those perfect, medium-sized apples. They are very crisp as well. You’ll recognize them by their characteristic green splashes in the midst of redness.
There are also good for cooking, especially for those who don’t like their desserts too sweet. You’ll find that this apple ripens during late August, and it’s the perfect apple to snack on.
Viking apples are instantly recognizable by their dark red — almost deep purple — shiny skin. They are also very big, which makes them even more beautiful. While they emit a wonderful smell, these apples are quite tart. If you like the tartness, then these apples are great for you, but for those who prefer sweetness, using them in a dessert is a good choice.
They can’t be stored for long, but they ripen quickly if the weather starts getting hotter, so be on the lookout for them during mid to late August.
Honeycrisp apples are incredibly popular as a fresh snack. There’s a good reason for it as well — it has a perfect crispness when you bite due to the flesh consisting of larger cells, and the taste achieves a good balance between tartness and sweetness. As a bonus, you’ll also taste berries. Just like a good bottle of wine, this apple has many fantastic notes.
This apple is a cross between Honeygold and Macoun, making it a perfect blend of their characteristics. Even baked, these apples retain their fantastic taste. This apple hits just the right size between medium and large, although some grow to be really big. Find them in late August, although in some states it doesn’t ripen until September.
Sansa apples were developed in Japan in the early 1970s. One of its main characteristics is that it’s resistant to disease. At the same time, this apple is essentially a Gala apple, but it ripens earlier than Gala, especially in certain territories. Also, Gala apples are more prone to disease, while Sansa isn’t.
You will get some of that expected Gala sweetness from this apple but also be prepared for the tartness that naturally comes with early-ripening apples. They are medium in size with a waxy, yellow skin covered with orange blushing. They are a good source of minerals and vitamins, and they are also quite good for cooking, retaining the undertones in taste even in the most demanding desserts.
Red Free Apples
This apple is another fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Just like Sansa apple, it’s resistant to many diseases and that’s why people like growing it. Besides, the skin of the apple is virtually free of any brown spots and other elements that may seem abnormal to shoppers. When it comes to the taste, this apple is quite tart, with a bit of sweetness. At the same time, Red Free is not a juicy apple, and it doesn’t give that fresh crisp.
But there are still fans of this apple, as its softness and tartness make it perfect for cooking or those who like the tart taste. You can make fantastic applesauce with them and any other desert. They are good for storing for a month, but you should use them up as soon as possible to get the best of them.
Find them in the late summer, especially during August and early September.
Zestar is another early-riper. One of its main characteristics is that it survives well in colder climates, unlike most other apples. It also stores well for an early apple — you can store it for up to two months.
As for the taste, you can expect more sweetness than in the previous two examples, although there’s still tartness, which is inevitable with early apples. You’ll also get sweet undertones that will remind you of brown sugar. You’ll find that it’s medium in size and has that perfect round shape we think of when thinking of apples. The skin of the apple will be mostly red, with some yellow under the blush. This apple is crisp and has great flesh, but it browns very quickly.
It’s excellent for cooking. August is the perfect time to pick these apples.
Ginger Gold Apples
Ginger gold apples are a popular choice, developed recently, in the 1960s. It’s a relative to Golden Delicious, but it ripens much earlier. It’s an excellent choice when you want to eat fresh apples, but it can also be a good fruit to cook as it keeps the shape. One of its main characteristics is the long stalk on which it grows.
This apple is easily recognizable by its yellow skin and a conical shape. But don’t let their pale color fool you — this apple is actually very sweet, although there’s a bit of tartness and spiciness to it. You’ll notice several fresh undertones as well. The flesh itself is crisp, and it doesn’t brown that easily. You can pick them in late summer and early fall.
September Apple Picking Season
When September rolls around, the summer is almost over and the kids are getting ready for school. This is an important time to find activities that will bring your family together. As a bonus, picking apples could help you prepare your winter storage and fill it with healthy apple treats.
Autumn Crisp Apples
Autumn Crisp is one of the tastiest September apples, with a sweet flavor interlaced with a refreshing tartness. The skin is yellow with red stripes and splashes, which makes for a recognizable look. Autumn Crisp can be both cooked and retains its flavor and eaten fresh. It’s full of vitamins, and it’s one of the healthiest apples available.
It won’t brown quickly when cut up — and if you have picky eaters, you know how important that is. Be on the lookout for it from early to mid-September.
Jonagold apples are a hybrid between two other sorts — Jonathan and Golden Delicious — but this only makes them better.
They generally grow big in size, but they retain a lot of the sweetness, making them ideal for snacking or cooking. Its basic color is yellow-green with a few red splashes. The green skin and a general lack of aroma may make you think that these apples are bland, but they are anything but sporting an enchanting taste that your family will love.
Look for them during the entire month of September and enjoy picking them.
Jonathan apples are one of the two apples that created Jonagold apples. You’ll notice the same sweetness of this apple as with the Jonagold apples, but their size is smaller. However, their size is exactly what makes them perfect for snacking.
They ripen in September, and that’s when you’ll find them in your favorite orchard.
Red Delicious Apples
Red Delicious is widely grown across the U.S., but it grows best in warmer areas. It’s a popular choice in the markets, but its popularity is decidedly declining and it has been like this for several years. However, it’s one of the best-looking apples available, due to its bright red skin color.
Once you bite in, you can expect juiciness and crispness. At the same time, this apple can be quite hard to bite into. It’s medium in size, and it has a conical shape. The flavor is quite mild while still being sweet. It’s refreshing, although too bland for some people. This apple has been used to create several breeds of apples, especially because of the color of its skin.
Blondee apples will remind you of Gala apples, but they are not the same — in fact, Gala is its parent apple. They do share some of the features, while there are also some differences. Blondee apples have yellow skin of smooth characteristics, and it will sometimes have green blushes across its skin.
The flesh itself is very firm, crisp, and crunchy, making for a wonderful bite. One of the main reasons why Blondee is a favorite is because it doesn’t brown easily and it doesn’t bruise often. The taste is mostly sweet, but the best part of it are the undertones of ginger, honey, and bananas. It can be cooked easily and they are also great if you want to eat them fresh.
Golden Supreme Apples
Golden Supreme apples are another variety of apples that has that characteristic yellow skin. This one also has a pinkish blush sometimes, which only adds to the charm. You’ll find that their skin isn’t as smooth as they have small brown dots — this is perfectly normal for Golden Supremes.
They are of medium sizes and have a conical shape. You can expect the flesh to be crisp and juicy, providing a good bite. They are not hard. The taste is mostly sweet, but there are fewer undertones. What’s mostly present is the sweetness and light spiciness with almost no acidity. They are best consumed fresh, but they can work with some desserts and meals.
October Apple Picking Season
While October is an Autumn month, most of the time, the weather remains sunny and warm enough for casual family outings such as apple picking. And nothing is in the spirit of the season more than stopping by your favorite orchard and getting some sweet apples for snacking and pies.
Crimson Crisp Apples
Crimson Crisp is a smaller apple, but it packs a punch when it comes to taste. You’ll instantly fall in love with the sweetness, and then get a surprise note of tartness with these apples. When biting into them, you’ll also notice that they are very crisp. But what will attract you most to them is their magnetic full-red color.
Crimson Crisp is easy to cook and it will make any dessert better. It’s also good for storing. You can enjoy these apples during October.
Snow Sweet Apples
Snow Sweet apples have an enchanting name and an equally enchanting taste. They are sweet and gentle with richness in texture, almost like butter. You can expect some tart undertones as well. This apple looks great too — it’s medium in size, almost perfect to hold, and it has a red color splashed with yellow tones.
But the best part is inside when you slice it up and see the whiteness of its flesh. It’s excellent for salads, desserts, or even casual snacking. The flesh won’t brown quickly and these apples are good for storing. Look for them during October.
Empire looks like a picture-perfect apple — red with green splashes on the skin, medium size, and bright, juicy, white flesh. These apples, while late to ripen, are not good for storing as some of the other apples on this list, but they are the tastiest when eaten straight off the tree. While picking them, have a bite.
You’ll be welcomed by a sweet taste and crispness in the texture. But it’s not just sweetness that you’ll taste, but rather the undertones of plenty of different flavors which make this apple even more enjoyable.
Idared apples are popular because they cook really well. They can fit in most recipes for desserts and they can be found in many salads. If you want to make that pink applesauce, you won’t find better apples for it than Idared.
These apples are medium-sized and quite round. You’ll find that their skin is green, but they have a red layer over it and they look beautiful in the orchard. The flesh will be creamy in color but expect a bit of pink as well, especially near the skin. The taste is mostly sweet and juicy, with tart undertones. The best Idared apples release a wonderful smell and have a good, sweet, and refreshing flavor.
EverCrisp is a newer variety of apples, but it is quickly gaining plenty of popularity with the general public. There are several reasons for this. For one, the taste of this apple is quite sweet, but there’s a crispness to the skin. The parent apples of EverCrisp are Honeycrisp and Fuji. From Fuji, this apple received a tang, which only makes them taste better.
The color of this apple is beautiful as well. The background is pale yellow and creamy, but you won’t see it easily under the strong red and pink blush over the skin. This apple has an important characteristic of storing well. It can last for several months without discoloration. The flavor will become milder, but it will still taste well.
Rome apples are one of the best-looking varieties on the market. They are medium in size and have many different shapes — from round to conical. The skin is very smooth and glossy, but what makes them even more striking is the deep red color.
The skin is also very thick, and underneath it is firm flesh, which provides a crisp bite. The flavor is mostly sweet, but there’s also a bit of tanginess, and you’ll get flowery undertones. These apples store well and they are excellent for cooking as well.
Apple picking is a fantastic activity for all generations. And apples are full of necessary vitamins and minerals that will nurture your body and help your children grow. Combining something healthy with something fun is a perfect form of entertainment for warm afternoons.
While at your favorite orchard, you can teach your children about nature, especially about apples and how they grow. And if picking during October, you’ll probably find some pumpkins as well. So, take your family on a wonderful apple picking trip and have fun.
- USA Apple: Apple Varieties
- University of Illinois: Varieties
- American Society of Horticultural Science: Apple Fruit Growth and Maturity are Affected by Early Season Temperatures
- Pick Your Own: Apple varieties – which apple to pick and why; sorted by typical ripening date!
- European Food Research and Technology: Compositional characterization of some apple varieties