The harvest schedule appears to be running at least a week or two early, with an increased presence of fresh apples on farms, at farmers markets and in community supported agriculture boxes across the state.
Visiting an orchard is a great autumn adventure. One benefit to picking up a basket of apples on site is access to all the homemade foods most orchards make available. Depending on the orchard, visitors might enjoy apple ciders or slushies, and most sell an array of apple-centric foods like pies, fritters, apple butters and jellies.
In Middle Tennessee, the Orchard at 6900 Blackberry Lane in Cross Plains in Robertson County is available for visits. Owners Katie and Don Henry may be reached at 615-654-9227 or [email protected]
Anyone who wants to do some of the cooking may want to visit several times during the season. Apple varieties ripen at varying times and some varieties have reputations for being best for specific purposes. All apples are great for eating fresh, but apples that will hold their shapes when sliced and cooked, like Fuji, Jonagold and Arkansas Black are favored for pies and dumplings. For apples that yield smooth applesauce or butter when cooked, try Golden Delicious, McIntosh or Gala apples.
Apples have the longest harvest schedule of any fruit grown in Tennessee, giving customers the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of flavors over a long period of time. Ozark Gold, Gala and Honeycrisp are among the varieties currently picked. The majority of Tennessee’s crop will be ripe in September and October, and a few varieties, including Arkansas Black, Pink Lady and Goldrush are harvested in early November.