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Giving New York State some Apple Recognition

What’s better than an apple orchard on a beautiful fall day? A free apple orchard, that’s what. In the many years that Eat This Review has been around, we’ve never profiled a local region specialty, but it’s time we should. New York State apples are what our state is known for, and we’re darn proud. Like most things about New York, it’s yet another that we feel we do best.*

*If you’ve ever had produce from OR/WA/Harry & David, you are definitely allowed to disagree with this statement.

When fall comes around, one of the most popular activities in New York is to go apple picking. School groups, NYC tourists, and locals alike attack local orchards like locusts, because hey, isn’t climbing apple trees and biting into fruit right off the tree what childhood is made of? But here in Dutchess County—the part-time home of ETR—we’re fairly famous for apples. We’ve got incredible varieties you’ve likely never heard of (you may know Jonagold, but do you know Jonamac?), and a good many of them to boot. Most apples purchased at greenmarkets throughout NYC, in fact, are picked at farms just 10 minutes away from here.

So armed with bags, cameras, empty stomachs, and a map from a local, ETR media person extraordinaire Vic and I found a somewhat secret orchard that is free and open to the public. Though the trees are not maintained, volunteers have helped build paths and mow down some of the brush. Amidst all the acres of land lie hundreds of old apple trees, with apples practically dripping from the decades-old branches. 

Are they the best apples? Not necessarily, but they are free for the taking. There are red delicious, braeburn, the most amazing golden delicious, and more. It takes creativity to get some of them later on in the season—stones, sticks, other apples, advanced tree-climbing skills, etc. But worth it it is, because after two hours  we had 40—yes, 40—pounds of apples. And after going back to the orchard several times over the next two months, I got more than my fair share. Hey, they’d go bad anyway!

Once home, we set to working making applesauce, apple chutney, apple cake, and more. NYS apples are great for munching, cooking, and dipping in anything. Full of fiber, juicy, and crunchtastic, I can’t say I know of a better place for apples—and I’ve had the fruit all over the world. New York State may be known for the city, but our outdoors—and our apples—are pretty darn spectacular too.

New York State’s apple season runs from September-October, with some leeway depending on rain. Dutchess, Putnam, and Orange Counties are popular u-pick destinations for the NYC crowd, though amazing orchards exist throughout the entire state.

Photography by Victor Leung