Fall Fun : Apple Picking


img_7454Apple picking season is short and sweet, just September and October, and there are so many great places around the Bay Area to go apple picking! We ventured to Swanton Pacific Ranch U-Pick Organic Apple Orchard on Labor Day weekend. The Swanton Pacific Ranch land was donated to San Luis Obispo’s Cal Poly State University (Go Mustangs!) and students work throughout the farm doing internships that deal with beef, watershed, forestry and organic crops.  How cool is that?!

There were 15 rows of 9 different varieties of apples.  Each row was clearly labeled with a number 1-15 that coincided with an Orchard Map (you grab this when you walk in) letting you know which type of apples were in each numbered row.  The rows were also labeled with tags: ripe, some ripe, or not ripe yet.  Going down the rows, there were many low hanging apples which was great for kids to help out with the picking. Even my 13-month old got in on the fun!

You will need to bring your own bags or buckets for collecting the apples, and once you gather all your apples, you weigh them and pay cash, $2.50 per lb., to the honor system payment box, old school☺

It was a fun day outside, picking organic local produce and giving back to an awesome school!


Other Apple Orchards in the Bay Area:

Gabriel Farm

3175 Sullivan Rd. Sebastopol, Ca 707-829-0617

Apple-a-Day Ratzlaff Ranch

13128 Occidental Rd. Sebastopol, Ca 707-823-0538

How to pick apples:

Alright that might sound a little weird.  Just find the bright red apple and pull it off the tree right? Not really.  

We asked one of the Cal Poly interns, and they said the ripe apples are usually firm, not bruised, and can range from green, yellow, red or a combination of these colors.  

Grab the apple and the branch it is on, twist up towards the branch.  If the apple easily comes off, then it’s ripe for the picking.  If you have to really tug, then it’s not ripe enough.  If other apples fall from the tree as you are twisting another apple off, grab those because they are definitely ripe!

How to Store your freshly Picked Apples:

Store them in your crisper drawer of the refrigerator with a damp paper towel underneath them.

If one of your apples is bruised or has a soft spot take it out.  One bad apple WILL spoil the bunch!  

If stored the right way, they can last up to 3 months!

Apple Recipes:

  • Apple & Gouda Grilled Cheese – We made this with pesto and Gouda cheese from Trader Joe’s, and paired it with tomato soup. So YUM!
  • Apple Crisp – FREEZE THEM! I made two right away and then froze another two.  Sign me up to bring dessert for the holiday parties!
  • Apple Muffins – These were easy and delicious.  I used them for breakfast and in my son’s lunch.  Plus, I made two batches, so I had more to freeze for another time.
  • Applesauce – Homemade! I also bought these reusable food pouches. I poured the applesauce into these pouches, froze some, and put them in lunchboxes throughout the week! 

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  1. I love this blog about apple picking season! Who knew where to pick an apple, how to pick an apple, when to pick the apples, and if you wanted to, where you can pick for a good cause! Loved, loved, loved, the ideas and recipes of what to do with the apples after picking besides just eating them whole.Thank you, looking forward to next apple season!


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