(Subscribe to The Brass File to get it e-mailed free to your in-box by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. After subscribing check your Spam folder the first few times as sometimes the bots think we’re trying to spam you.)

Column by Chelsea Kaneb

How ’bout them apples?

Summer clocked out at the end of her shift and didn’t stay a moment longer, swiftly making way for Autumn. We ended our summer enjoying some delicious local sweet ears of corn (It’s corn!), gawking at the animals and trying all the foods at local fairs, taking some dips in the pool, and brightening our home with our late blooming sunflowers.

We’ve now seamlessly welcomed Autumn and sweater weather with delicious soups, hearty chilis, wearing layers, starting school, obsessing over all things pumpkin (which, have no fear, we will cover extensively in next month’s column), going to more fairs, and getting ready for the return of the Sanderson Sisters later this week and of course, apple picking.

Family apple picking adventures are a great way to teach children about farm to table.

Apple picking is a pastime that can be enjoyed all across the country (and even in many places worldwide) throughout the Autumn. It is a beautiful way to support local farms, and connect with nature, and it often provides the perfect backdrop for family photo ops that may even make the cut for this year’s holiday card. It’s a great way to help children (and even adults) begin to understand the concept of farm-to-table.

They’ll see how the apples are grown, experience plucking and gathering them, and then return home to cook and bake them in various ways.

For many, apple picking at a local orchard has become a family tradition and our family is no exception. Every year we wear our autumnal best and traipse amongst the apple trees making memories and stocking up on apples to create pies, crisps, cobblers, and all things apple for the next few weeks.

Even though it can get messy, some of my favorite memories with my daughter have been cooking and baking in the kitchen, and apple season provides tons of opportunities to create with her.

Just today, we cooked up a big vat of freshly picked applesauce that she can’t get enough of. Baking apple pies, crumbles, crisps, cobblers, muffins, cooking applesauce, and drying apple cinnamon spiraled chips fill the house with a sweet smell, and combined with the spices, it’s one of the most iconic scents of the season.

There are so many dishes to create with apples and you can’t go wrong with any of them – unless you don’t even try. Photo by Getty Images

Apples are not only delicious but a healthy food option too, think “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. They are a great source of fiber and vitamin C.

We always find our way to March Farm in Bethlehem on a beautiful Autumn afternoon to do our apple picking. The orchard is set in the heart of Bethlehem, CT, with gorgeous vistas and a large variety of apples to pick from.

Harvesting fruits and veggies can help you feel connected to Mother Nature and March Farm helps us feel even more in tune by implementing a new biological practice of not spraying herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.

They may not always be the perfect-looking Snow White apple, but you can feel good knowing that you’re playing your part in helping the Earth by supporting a farm that is taking these steps to care for the environment around us.

They also have some of the tastiest apple cider donuts around. The fresh, locally pressed apple cider is some of the best I’ve ever tasted; I even love it so much that I went bright and early to pick up a few gallons of it on the morning of my wedding to serve to the guests at our reception. It was a big hit at our autumnal-themed bash; friends and family still rave about it.

What’s more American than apple pie? Photo by Getty Images

It’s been a joy introducing such a special place to my daughter, who will be going on her third Autumn apple adventure at March Farm in a few days. The first one was a lovely excursion for our new little family, but at 6 weeks old, she couldn’t quite appreciate the autumnal magic (although I’m sure she felt it). Last year, she was just getting the hang of walking, more like teetering around, but she had a blast picking apples up off the ground, putting them in the bag no matter what condition they were in, and eventually helping me bake and cook with them at home.

This year her curious toddler eyes and wicked fast toddler reflexes will make for an entirely different experience. It will provide a great learning tool for various reasons, an ideal place for an energetic toddler to get some exercise and gas themselves out, and some wholesome photographic moments to last a lifetime.

The unbridled joy of a one-year-old picking apples. Now she’s two, and when we go apple picking next week she’ll most likely be climbing into the tree.

My mind was blown when I found out how many varieties of apples there are in this world. You can find most of them at the local farms around here in Connecticut. They are all slightly different and have a variety of suggested uses. Here is a little list of some of the more widely found varieties and what they are most used for:

Gala – Pick early in the season. It has a sweet flavor and is good for salads, snacking and freezing.

Red Delicious – The quintessential snacking apple and can be found at its best mid to late in the picking season.

Granny Smith – Due to its tart flavor, this apple is great for baking and snacking and mid-late picking season.

Fuji – A very sweet apple that’s best for salads and snacking and found midseason.

Honeycrisp – A great dessert apple and for sweet baking. Very juicy with a honey-like sweetness. Pick early in the season.

Macintosh -A great blend of sweet and tart, which makes it another perfect apple for baking and you guessed it, snacking. It’s best mid-way through the picking season.

Due to drought conditions in Connecticut this summer apples will be sweeter because the sugar will be more concentrated. Getty Images

Jonagold – A great apple saucing apple with another blend of sweet and tart. It has a late picking season.

Pink lady – Great for baking and applesauce with its sweetness and the slight hint of tart and has a late picking season.

Golden Delicious – This apple has a very mild, sweet, and chill flavor palate which makes it good for salads and baking and, you guessed it again, snacking.

It’s always good to check with your local orchards if you’re on the hunt for a particular variety and make sure they have it and it’s available when you want to visit.

Apple picking is an outing that can be enjoyed by the whole family, whether they are curious little toddlers, teenagers, or adults. Most orchards provide some activities for children and often have other attractions such as animals/petting zoos, hayrides, pony rides, pumpkin patches, a playground, ice cream, Autumn-tactic baked goods, perhaps beer for the adults, and much more to make it an even more enjoyable adventure.

Packing the family into the car and spending a few hours at the orchard is one of my favorite parts of autumn in New England, and we have so many amazing places to choose from to plan your next adventure to make memories and tasty treats, too.

• March Farm – apples, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, pumpkins, Fresh eggs, corn maze, Cider mill (fresh apple cider made on the premises), snacks and refreshment stand, picnic area, petting zoo, farm animals, birthday parties, school tours 160 Munger Lane, Bethlehem, CT 06751. Phone: (203) 266-7721. Fax: (203) 266-6076. Email marchfarms@marchfarms.com.

• Belinsky Family Farm- 132 Moose Hill Road, Oxford, CT 06478. Phone: 203-888-0322. Email: belinskysfarm@gmail.com.

• Bishop Farms of Cheshire CT – apples, blueberries, gift shop, snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms, picnic area, petting zoo, birthday parties, school tours 500 So Meriden Road, Cheshire, CT 06410. Phone: 203-272-8243.

Bishop’s Orchards location 1 – PYO Strawberries, winery, blueberries, peaches, pears, apples, raspberries and pumpkins 1355 Boston Post Road (US Rte 1, I-95 Exit 57), Guilford, CT 06437. Phone: (203) 458-7425. Email: pyoinfo@bishopsorchards.com.

Bishop’s Orchards Location 2- PYO apples & peaches, pumpkins 1916 Middletown Ave (Rte 17, 3 miles N of Rte 22), Northford, CT 06472. Phone: (203) 458-PICK. Email: farminfo@bishopsorchards.com.

• Drazen Orchards – 251 Wallingford Road, Cheshire, CT 06410. Phone: 203-272-7985. Email: drazenorchards@gmail.com. Apples, by variety: Gala – September 7. Honeycrisp – September 7. MacIntosh – September 13. Cortland – September 15. Early Fuji – September 18. Macoun – September 25. Red Delicious – September 27. Empire – October 4. Jonagold – October 10. Golden Delicious – October 11. Baldwin – October 17. Mutsu – October 18

• Hickory Hill Orchards – 351 South Meriden Road, Cheshire, CT 06410. Phone: (203) 272-0181. Alternate phone: (203) 272-3824 Email:lynnkudish@gmail.com.

• Norton Brothers Fruit Farm – 450-466 Academy Road, Cheshire, CT 06410. Phone: (203) 272-8418. Email: nbfinfo@nortonbrothersfruitfarm.com. PYO apples, pears, plums, peaches.

There are dozens of farms around Waterbury to pick apples. Photo by Getty Images

• Lyman Orchards – PYO strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, flowers, peaches, nectarines, pears, apples & pumpkins, Corn maze. Jct. Routes 147 and 157, Middlefield, CT 06455. Phone: (860) 349-1793. Fax: (860) 349-1424. Email: jlyman3@lymanorchards.com.

• Blue Jay Orchards – apples, pumpkins, Honey from hives on the farm, Cider mill fresh apple cider made on the premises. 125 Plumtrees Road, Bethel, CT 06801. Phone: 203-748-0119 *Averill Farm – 250 Calhoun St, Washington Depot, CT 06794. Phone: 860-868-2777. Email: info@averillfarm.com.

• Tonn’s Orchard – PYO apples, pumpkins, peaches, Christmas trees. 270 Preston Road, Terryville, CT 06786. Phone: (860) 585-1372 ask for Peter.

• Rogers Orchards Shuttlemeadow Farm – apples, pumpkins
336 Long Bottom Road, Southington, CT 06489. Phone: (860) 229-4240 Fax: (860) 229-4076. Varieties include McIntosh, Jonamac, Golden Delicious, Ida Reds, Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Red Delicious, and Mutsu.

• Rogers Orchards Sunnymount Farm – 2876 Meriden-Waterbury Road, Route 322, Southington, CT 06489. Phone: (203) 879-1206. Apple varieties include McIntosh, Jonamac, Golden Delicious, Ida Reds, Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Red Delicious, and Mutsu. Also ducks and rabbits for the kids.

Check out https://pickyourown.org/CT.htm to find an orchard close to you and help cross apple picking off your autumn activity list.