Fall Apple Activities for the Family
Autumn is one of the most spectacular seasons of the year in PA. The foliage across the Commonwealth bursts into a colorful display of deep russet, rustic bronze, vibrant orange and lively pinks. During the daytime, the weather is temperate, encouraging families to spend time outdoors. This year, make sure that some of your getaways include fall apple activities, because there are plenty of opportunities in every corner of the Keystone State!
Go Ahead, Grab Apples off the Tree!
Apple picking is one of the biggest fall apple events in Pennsylvania, and it’s fun for kids and adults alike. A trip to your favorite apple farm to gather your own produce is time well-spent for individuals, families and even groups. Many elementary school trips include a visit to a working orchard, giving youngsters a taste of the ripest, most delicious apples they can find.
Apple picking adventures aren’t limited to just grabbing a few Cameos or Empires and then heading back home. Many orchards are located on farms that offer a plethora of fun fall farm and apple activities, including visiting animals or going on hayrides. Kids adore being able to get up-close and personal with cows, horses, sheep, goats and chickens. Not only do these trips expand their minds, but they also promote a healthier lifestyle. Often, even the pickiest child falls in love with fruits and veggies after visiting PA’s apple farms!
Wrap up your apple picking by getting baked goods and homemade ice cream, also available at many apple orchards throughout Pennsylvania. Make sure you buy enough to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. While you’re at it, pick up a bushel of your favorite apples. That way, they’ll be ready anytime you need a healthy snack.
Bring on the Applesauce and Apple Butter!
Which is better, applesauce or apple butter? The answer is “neither,” because both can hold their own! Fall is the ideal time to make your own apple butter and applesauce. Pennsylvania orchards are chock-full of tremendous supplies of apples, so all you need to do is decide which ones will be perfectly suited to your recipes.
Apple butter and applesauce can be made from many types of apples that fall apart well when baked, such as Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji and McIntosh. Typically, these are very soft apples. Applesauce and apple butter recipes are very similar. Apple butter just takes longer to make and produces a darker, richer flavor. Even if your recipe calls for additional sweetener, you may want to wait to add any sugar or honey to your apple butter and applesauce. Often, the sweetness of fresh PA apples is more than enough to transport your taste buds to apple paradise!
Preparing to make other delicious apple treats? Our PA Apple Varities search function can help you decide which apples to pick for your baking, snacking, and cooking needs!
No Time to Cook? No Problem!
If you don’t have time to make applesauce, apple butter or apple cider at home, you can always find tons of options at farmers’ markets, Pennsylvania apple harvest festivals and other fall events in PA. In fact, at some events, one of the main attractions is seeing how apple butter and other apple products are made by hand using equipment passed down from prior generations. You’ve never been as amazed as you will be when you see apple butter being slowly cooked in an enormous kettle atop a blazing fire! Each farmer has his or her own family recipe, so you may want to try several types of cider, butter or sauce to see which is best-suited for your personal tastes. Don’t forget you can use these apple products to create relishes, beverages and baked goods, which can all be found on our recipe pages.
When it comes to apple processing, did you know:
- Knouse Foods is the largest apple processor in PA.
- Two pounds of apples can make a perfect nine-inch pie!
- Pennsylvania is one of the top apple-producing states in the US.
- Nearly 19% of harvested apples are used for making apple juice or apple cider.
Host a Kids’ Apple Tasting
Parents, grandparents, babysitters and teachers are always looking for healthy ways to introduce kids to new, healthy tastes. This fall, set aside a rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon for some kids’ apple-tasting activities. They’re easy to set up, and they give children a good reason to get close to their recommended daily dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and calcium.
How to Set up an Apple-Tasting Event for Youngsters
- Step One: Get several types of apples. Pick varieties that taste different from one another, to give your youngsters a chance to taste their differences. If you’re unsure which types will be best-suited for your kids, ask your local farmer when you make your purchase, or use our search tool to identify apples with different flavor profiles. In general, it’s fun to have at least one sweet apple, one tart apple, one crisp apple, one softer apple and one “wild card” apple, such as an heirloom variety.
- Step Two: Cut up the apples and put them on different plates. Label the plates with the apple name, or simply call each apple “A,” “B,” “C,” etc. You can use the latter approach if you’re trying to do a scientific experiment to see which apples the kids liked best.
- Step Three: Have kids eat a piece of each apple type slowly. Ask them to describe what they think. Encourage all answers, and write them down. After trying all the apple samples, see which apple they liked the most and why. You may be surprised to find that your household winds up with a new favorite!
An apple tasting event is suitable for the kitchen, the classroom and even a birthday party! It’s a way for children to use their senses to describe foods, and it helps them see apples in a new light. Many kids are surprised to learn there are so many different types of apples available right in their home state of Pennsylvania!
Other Ideas for a Kid’s Apple-Tasting Adventure
Once you’ve had your apple taste-test, try some of these other ideas:
- Offer dipping items like yogurt and peanut butter — or other nut butter for those with allergies — to go along with the apples.
- Encourage other people in your household or neighborhood to participate, whether they are kids or not. Did their responses differ greatly from the kids’ responses?
- Consider hosting an apple taste test for homeschoolers as a science or health experiment.
Host an Apple Pairing Event Especially Designed for Grown-Ups
Why let the kids have all the fun? Grown-ups can get into the apple pairing experience, too, by setting up their own apple pairing events. These types of fall get-togethers are perfect for bringing couples together or for a girls’ night in.
Start by determining what kind of adults’ apple pairing event you want to host. One suggestion is to have an apple tasting evening that includes small bites and wine or cocktail pairings. You may also want to set out apple slices featuring several varieties paired them with edibles like hard and soft cheeses, olives, crackers, prosciutto, French bread or fig spread. Finish the evening with light dessert, and perhaps spiced apple cider, especially if the temperatures have dropped.
Another idea for an adults’ apple pairing event is to set up an apple-themed several-course meal. Start with fresh salad dressed delectably with pieces of apple. Then, move on to an entrée featuring your favorite apples, like a pork loin with homemade apple relish. End on a sweet note with a homemade apple pie. This is a terrific way to support local PA apple growers and have fun trying new dishes! Stretch your culinary expertise by tackling the apple recipes that sound best. You can find a wide variety of apple recipes for your event on our recipe pages.
Learn About Hard Cider Production in Pennsylvania
You’ve probably heard of “hard” apple cider for many years, but did you know that it’s produced in Pennsylvania? Hard cider is a term that’s used for any fermented apple cider drink that has alcoholic content. It begins as regular apple cider, but it must be carefully processed to end up with an alcohol-based product. This fall, why not find out about the time-honored fermentation techniques from your neighborhood PA apple growers? Many fall harvest events and apple activities across PA include information on how hard cider is made. Not only will you be able to get an in-depth understanding of the science behind the fermentation process, but you can probably snag some delicious hard cider for yourself as a reward!
A Tisket, a Tasket… a Lovely Apple Gift Basket!
Yet another creative apple activity that’ suited for autumn is making gift baskets that start with lovely, PA-grown apples. What better way is there to celebrate a fall birthday or another milestone than with an apple-themed gift basket? Try some of these ideas for variety and to make a gift basket that elicits smiles:
- The All-Apple Basket. Know an apple-lover who is celebrating a special occasion? Go to your nearest farmers’ market, fresh grocer or nearby orchard and choose several varieties of apples. Wash and dry them to remove any residue. Then, arrange them in a wicker basket. Adorn it with a bow, and you have the perfect present! For added options, consider placing an apple-recipes cookbook inside, along with some apple-friendly spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
- The Apple Pairing Basket. So many good things pair well with apples, such as cheeses, tapenades, spreads, crackers and wines. Seek out apples and other goodies that pair well with them, and put together a basket with the apple as the central focus and the tasty treasures as accompaniments.
- The PA Apple Products Basket. This could also be called an “Orchard Basket” or “Farmers’ Goods” basket. Look for products made in PA that have apple as their main ingredient. These can include apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple pie, applesauce, apple butter, apple cider and, of course, fresh Pennsylvania apples! Have fun arranging this all-PA basket for someone who loves to buy locally as much as you do!
- The Apples-Everywhere Basket. This is for the biggest apple aficionado you know! Not only should you add apples to this basket, but also items decorated with apples. Might we suggest apple cloth napkins, apple-themed dinnerware and an apple holiday ornament for starters?
Of course, no matter what kind of apple basket you put together, your recipient will be thrilled at your thoughtfulness! Who knows? You might just receive a thank-you apple product in return. That’s definitely a gift that keeps on giving!
Spend Your Weekends at Fall Apple Harvest Festivals
Our final fall family activity suggestion is to mark your calendar today for all the upcoming PA fall apple harvest festivals in your region. They happen regularly across the state, and it isn’t hard to find one within driving distance from wherever you call home. If you’re having trouble, just check out our calendar of events, which is updated regularly and includes festivals and other similar events.
Fall apple harvest events are typically centered around apples and apple products, and they also have tons of activities for kids and adults. The goal is to introduce you to your close-by orchards and farmers, as well as to bring you closer to the fruit that’s so beloved! Plan on relaxing at these autumn events, and be certain to bring home some apples so you can relish them all winter.
Find a Farm Near You
Now that you have some ideas for fun fall activities to do with your family, it’s time to find some apple farms in Pennsylvania. Visit our website to find a farm where you can participate in these fall apple activities and take home some apples for you and your family!