McIntosh, Red Delicious, Macoun, Empire, Cortland… even the names are mouth-watering! By the bushel basket or the bag, or just an apple or two at a time, juicy, fresh apples – for pies, for cider, for apple crisp and homemade apple sauce, or for a healthy snack – are the best thing about autumn in Vermont. Markets all over the state sell fresh-picked Vermont apples, but if you want the ultimate experience take the family and visit a Vermont orchard on a crisp autumn day to pick your own (placing them gently into your box or basket; apples bruise easily, so you must handle them like eggs). If not a pick-your-own orchard, a farm stand stocked with McIntosh or some other variety – there are dozens – or a cider mill may be the destination for you. Nothing equals a cup of freshly made cider, warmed up on a brisk day, surrounded by the reds and golds of an autumn afternoon.
The apple most abundant in Vermont orchards is the famous, flavorful “Mac” — the McIntosh — which account for almost 70 percent of the apples grown here. But the other kinds have their fans, too. Regardless of your particular favorite, when you get your just-picked apples home you’ll want them to stay crisp and delicious for as long as possible, so it’s best to store them in the refrigerator. For larger quantities use a cold room or storage area – usually a cellar or an unheated garage will do. Bring them inside as your refrigerator supply runs low, and you’ll be able to extend the pleasure of your “apple outing” for many days. Even as they get older they become just right for making pies, cobbler, and apple sauce.
Apples, enjoyed in so many forms, are a Vermont tradition. You’ll find orchards, farm stands and cider mills in every part of our beautiful state. You can’t go wrong with apples in the fall, in Vermont.