Your outdoor apple store – apple picking

“Apples.  We have apples all over the White House.”

– Michelle Obama espousing apples as a healthy snack, in her first Google+ chat.

Well hey, I have apples all over my white house.  That’s it then, that makes America’s First Lady practically my sister from another mother.  (Michelle’s the more outgoing one, possessing more muscular arms.)

Apple picking in Bilpin

Apple-picking a wonderful activity for children and city-slickers.  Both exist in my family.

Being in an orchard makes one feel so alive, on those sparkling autumn days when the sky is cornflower-blue (as Enid Blyton would say) and the sun’s summer intensity has faded.

First glimpses of autumn colours
autumn leaf colours autumn tree scenery 1

Bilpin is an established apple-farming area.  It is an easy 90-minute drive from Sydney, towards the Blue Mountains National Park.

Bucolic scenes around Bilpin.  First pic shows the Blue Mountains yonder.
country scenery country postboxes 
grass karts sign country scenery 1

Pine Crest Orchard is among the minority of pick-your-own apple farms.  Many apple farms in Bilpin do farm-door sales, but don’t let visitors pick their own apples.

You see, visitors who pick apples the wrong way can cause much wastage and tree damage.

1-minute video on the correct way to pick apples:

What happens at Pine Crest Orchard

Outside the Pine Crest Orchard shed
Apple farm sign Pine Crest Pine Crest apple farm

On arrival, we entered the shed, where a spunky lady gave us:
~ buckets for collecting apples,
~ a lesson on how to properly pick apples, and
~ directions on where to go to pick apples.

Inside the Pine Crest Orchard shed
farm gate apples for sale The Pink Lady lady apples for sale 1

Inside the Pine Crest Orchard farm
apple tree 1 tractor apple orchard 
apple sign

It's free to visit the orchard.  You pay by weight for 
apples you've picked.  

At $3.50/kg, these apples are cheaper (and fresher) 
than supermarket apples (which can be 10 months old 
when off-season).

When we were there, Pink Lady apples were in season.  I win: these apples are my favourite! ♥ ♥ ♥   Man Of The House favours Fuji, while the offspring go gaga over Gala.

Pink Lady apples (pictured below):
~ have pink and light green skin,
~ have a strong rose fragrance,
~ are slightly tart, and
~ are always crisp.

Pink Lady apples apples 2 apple trees 3

My heart leaps to see my children skip along apple trees in the sunshine, swinging their buckets and chattering happily.

Children + Fresh Air + Sunshine = Virtuous Parent  ^_^

Except that anyone within earshot will hear these kids discussing not nature, but the latest zombie-annihilating strategies for iPad game Plants vs Zombies.

apple picking 1 apple trees zombies

We are free to wander around the orchard, and pick apples from the designated area.

scaling the apple tree apple picking 2 solo apple 

Eating apples this fresh is heavenly.  They’re crisp, fragrant and sweet.  Just inhaling the scent of a bucket full of apples is intoxicating.

The buckets fill quickly.  These 2 buckets yielded over 8 kg of apples.
apple picking 3

apple juice and jams Fresh walnuts Mt Tomah The Pink Lady lady 
Other items available at the Pine Crest Orchard shed:
~ fresh apple juice (clear or cloudy - $6 for 2 litres),
~ local honey,
~ local jam,
~ walnuts from mountains up the road ($9.50/kg),
~ a free dissertation on Matthew McConaughey in the movie Magic Mike.

An apple polisher on display in the shed: a row of sloped, bristly brushes.  
apple polisher

Tips if you intend to go apple-pickingapple harvest

Tip #1.  Phone the apple farm to ask if they’re open for picking. 

Opening times can vary week to week, depending on crop supply and demand.

After a sudden spike in visitor numbers, one farm had to stay closed for a week to allow its remaining apples to ripen.

Tip #2.  Different types of apples ripen at different times. 

When I went, it was Pink Lady season.  Fuji apples ripen earlier and were all finished at the time of our visit.

If you are after a certain variety, check with the farms in early autumn as to the best time to visit.

Baby Fuiji apple trees
Rows of baby fuji apple trees Baby Fuji apple tree

Tip #3. Apples on higher branches that get more sun are sweeter. 

Bring a tall or long-armed person if possible.

scarecrowTip #4.  If it has been raining, wear gum boots. 

Your clean sneakers will thank you when you get home.

Tip #5:  Useful links…

…for fruit-picking and farm gate produce near Sydney: Pine Crest Orchard and Hawkesbury Harvest.

apple blossom b

My daughter picked up a fallen apple bud 
and put it in water at home.  

To our surprise, it bloomed into this 
gorgeous flower.

Even the apple blossom smells of apples!

Apple pie

Apples and pies go together like Apple computers and Steve Jobs.  So, unsurprisingly, apple pies abound in Bilpin.

We saw delectable ones at Pie in the Sky (savoury pie review here), but it was too early in the day for us to buy them.

apple pie 4Pie in the sky sign with kid 1apple pie 3

In the afternoon, with a boot full of apples, we dropped by fruit barn 
The Bilpin Fruit Bowl.
bilpin fruit bowl apple pie 1

At The Bilpin Fruit Bowl, we picked up a family-sized apple pie for $8.50.  Also available were apple-and-plum pies for $10.50.

Right behind the pie display was a lady rolling out pastry, making more pies.  Just like the farm apples, you can’t get fresher than that!

apple pie 6 apple pie 5

Now, that was a Seriously Good Apple Pie.

Filling – No rubbery, rehydrated or canned apple pieces here.  No gluggy, overly sweet sauce either.  This is The Real Deal – soft chunks of real apple with a cinnamon accent.

Pastry – Buttery throughout and crisp on top, even when cold (I couldn’t wait).

This is an independent, uncommissioned review.  FITK visited the above places in April 2013, at own expense.

Apple pie recipe

Guess what, Michelle Obama finds time to make apple pies.

To her credit, this isn’t a last-minute recipe conjured up just for PR purposes.  She says she’s been making this for so long that she eyeballs the amounts instead of following a recipe.

She even shares tips on how to make frozen pastry flaky – “like Barack likes it”.

Recipe notes for people outside USA:

  • Mrs Obama calls it an “apple cobbler”, but it sure looks like an apple pie to me.
  • Butter measurements: 1 stick = ¼ pound = 114 grams.
  • 325°Farenheit = 160°Celsius, while 300°Farenheit = 150°Celsius.

Here is Michelle Obama’s apple pie recipe.  Try it out, and tell me whether she should quit her day job to make her fortune as an apple pie entrepreneur.

apple pie 2apple pie 2apple pie 2apple pie 2apple pie 2

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truck and log

Food tour: Noodles from Malaysia, Buns from All Over

(completely unrelated to apples)

Do you enter a Malaysian eatery and get dish envy (ie you want what other people are having)?

→  Join the Campsie Adventure and BE THE CREATOR of dish envy instead!

Char kway teow Eggy sauce hor fun (flat rice noodles) Chinese buns

On this food tour, savour an authentic Malaysian noodle banquet, and sample bready delights from not 1 but 3 vastly different bakeries.  Join me on an upcoming open-to-all event, or have your own Campsie Adventure private event.  Click here to book.

One thought on “Your outdoor apple store – apple picking

  1. Pingback: Not Quite Gwyneth Sweet Potato Muffins | Feasting in the Know

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