A list of Columbus & Central OH apple orchards (with links) and resources on everything apple!
Apple picking is something that kids young and old can enjoy and makes for a fun family outing. We go apple picking any where from three to six times during the season, so we know a little about the local orchards and I've done my share of looking up apple resources. We try to pick strategically, so that we end up with a lot of the apples that keep well. Some varieties, if stored properly, will last until the spring. That is another bonus to the apple picking family fun, it's cheap and you can have apples for months to come!
With it being the start of the apple picking season, we thought you might appreciate information on orchards, as well as resources on all things apple! Remember to check their website, facebook pages or call them to get the most current picking status.
Below are some of the apple orchards in Columbus and Central Ohio that we have been to (click their name to go to their website - always remember, anything pink is a link!):
Legend Hills Orchard. This nice sized orchard is located in Utica, which we have been to for several years (for strawberries and apples). They have a large variety apples throughout the season. It's not typically too crowded, though it is a popular apple picking place. They also have a farm market were they sell other produce, as well of some Amish cheese, meat and other things. Facebook page. 740-504-6588. 11155 Reynolds Rd, Utica.
Lynd's Fruit Farm. We have been going to this very popular, well known orchard, located in Pataskala, for years. I really like the apple variety, the amount of trees they have and the farm market. Because it's so popular though, it's always extremely busy so you might be sharing a tree with other families. They do have a great farm market with lots of produce and Amish baked goods. In October they also have a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayrides and many other fall activities. Facebook page. 740-927-1333 and 740-927-7013. 9090 Morse Rd SW, Pataskula.
Apple Hill Orchard. This orchard is located in Mansfield (not too far off 71 - it's only about 45 mintues from north Columbus) and is the one we always go to when meeting family/friends from NE Ohio (it's about half way). The picking orchard they have (they also have one solely for commercial sales) is probably medium sized, but always has tons of apples. They have a good variety of apples, including some August variety u-picks. They also have pear trees for early September u-picking, and peach trees (for July and August u-pick). We always enjoy this orchard. They have a nice little farm market with other produce, as well as some meats and cheeses. They also have a kids day in October and hayrides throughout the fall. 419-884-1500 or Toll Free 888-APPLE50 (277-5350). 1175 Lexington Ontario Rd., Mansfield
CherryHawk Farm. This orchard is located in Marysville. It's small and has a very peaceful feeling. They have a great variety of apples (though did have some issues with the weather this year) and are very nice people. I just discovered it last year for the first time when I was in search of Honeycrisp u-pick apples (and the other orchards we frequent sold out during the week - I am thinking of taking a vacation day this year!!) I have to say, we really liked this orchard. One of the owners told me, "We are trying to make the apple picking experience like it was for your grandparents. Soon we'll have nature trails and other things." There were many families that came and went during the time we picked 11 pecks (no, I am not kidding!) of apples, yet it was so quiet and peaceful, making our apple picking fun more personal. They do not have a farm market, but this orchard is definitely worth it! Facebook page. 937-642-6442. 16220 Springdale Rd., Marysville.
Barnstool Orchards. This orchard is located in Utica (very close to Legend Hills). We have not yet picked here, but I have bought peaches and cherries from them at our Farmers Market and have been very pleased. We have driven by the orchard and it looks nice. They have u-pick all week long. 740-892-3989. 5895 Johnstown Utica Road, Utica.
Lawrence Orchards. Located just south of Marion. They grow 26 varieties of apples for you pick. We've never been here, but looks like a nice orchard. They also have an Applefest on September 29th with lots of fun stuff. Facebook page. 740-389-3019. 2634 Smeltzer Rd, Marion
Granville Orchard. We haven't been to this orchard yet either, but I know that our Farmer's Market pie person (fabulous!) picks her apples from Granville Orchards and really loves it. One of our readers, Debby, said that this was one of her favorite orchards. She said that there are rarely crowds and their prices are really great. 740-587-2030. 2770 Lancaster Rd., Granville.
There is another one that I will mention, but they do not have apples this year (which saddens me greatly). Windy Hill (also known as Charlie's Apples after the owner). We went to this orchard, located in Newark, for the first time two years ago, and ended up going back again later in the season. This orchard has organically grown apples, so many of their varieties aren't your typical ones. Instead they focus on apples that are more resistant, since they grow their apples without the use of pesticides and insecticides. Unfortunately mother nature has not been kind. They are now only selling homemade untreated sweet cider this year if you are interested - it's fabulous. And they hope to have pre-picked Gold Rush apples in mid-October. 740-587-3632. 1740 Sportsman Club Road, Newark.
I am sure there are many great reference sites for making applesauce and apple butter. The one I used for applesauce was the pickyourown.org website.
Applesauce: I use the fruit and vegetable strainer attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer (which is listed on that site), cook the apples in a large stock pot on low heat with skins on (and some cinnamon and vanilla) until they start to soften, then put them through the strainer - it's perfect. I typically mix varieties, using some that are labeled good for sauce and some not, to get desired sweetness without ever adding sugar. I keep some in the refrigerator for the week, and freeze the rest in glass pryex storage containers. It is so easy!
Apple butter: They also have tips for making apple butter, which I have never done, but looks very easy.
Apple use charts:
These are great for giving you an idea of what apple varieties are best used for making certain things. Some you probably already know, but all of these charts/resources list varieties that are not common as well. Between the three, it should cover just about any apple you might pick this season.
Pickyouown.org has a great chart for uses and care. Scroll own on the page to see both the usage, ripening dates and storage chart, as well as an alphabetical (and pictorial) list of apples with their characteristics and other facts.
Ohio Apple Growers also has a use chart.
Lynd's Fruit Farm - this includes the refrigerated life expectancy, as well as best uses for each variety. (Click on the varieties to the left for details on each, or there is a chart at the bottom.)
Here are some Apple Picking tips, from pickyourown.org.
Storing apples: I have found that it works best to put your apples in bags (like quart size bags that seal), three to four to a bag, don't completely seal it and put it in your refrigerator's fruit and veggie drawers. We have a refrigerator in the garage, which quite honestly turns into the "apple refrigerator" in the fall/winter. I also read on a site that you should rinse the apples, leave them slightly wet/damp and put in a bag (like a plastic store bag), tie it loosely and store in the refrigerator (again fruit and veggie drawer). This is contradictory to what I have read saying not to store wet. I've tried it both ways and they seem to do fine. If you don't bag them, I have found they definitely do not last as long at all. And if you put too many together in a bag, especially if they are highly acidic, that if one goes bad, all of them will get bad (told to me by an orchard worker and proven true by me). CherryHawk Farm told me that just keeping them in the paper bag in the refrigerator works as well.
The stellar keeper apple, for us at least, has been Fuji, though Honeycrisp is a close second. The former will keep into the spring (if stored correctly), the latter will keep until at least January, if not longer. Also, if you don't have the extra refrigerator, you really don't need it. They just need to be stored in a cool somewhat humid place, like some basements or crawl spaces are.
One last note, I have spoke to many of these farms regarding their spraying practices. I know that Apple Hill and Lynd's use integrated pest management, which means they assess the orchard monthly to determine what chemicals are needed and therefore are only using what they need on trees/varieties that need it (versus covering everything whether or not they need it). Lynd's actually made the switch recently (which made me very happy since before they used "a lot of chemicals" - per an email exchange with them a couple years ago). Legend Hills sprays but they tell me that it's more minimal and "watered down" though they do not follow integrated pest management. Windy Hill doesn't use any chemicals. Most of the above using chemicals don't spray past flowering, unless needed. I don't think any use chemicals to the extent that commercial growers do, which is worth noting since apples are #1 on the EWG Dirty Dozen list. Regardless, by buying local from any of these places, you reduce your carbon footprint, get the freshest apples, support farmers in our community and have a great time together as a family. Just be sure to wash those apples well!