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Apple season

What's the story this year? I head it is supposed to be a thin year and I want to send some as a birthday present in early October. I called Dowse's a couple of weeks ago and they hadn't started but I also couldn;t get a predection on the duration. Somewhere I heard/read that things would be over in a really short time.

Any advice is appreciated.

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  1. Autumn Hills in Groton is currently picking, and yes, I heard from them that they expect a very weird, early, and short season, though I didn't get much in the way of details.


    1. The Alfalfa Farm apple orchard has opened for U-Pick and on last Saturday we got some delicious and succulent Cortlands and Macintosh apples. Other varieties to follow in the coming weeks. The orchard is across from the winery...

      Wilson Farm in Lextington also has their own apples for sale...

      As does Tendercrop in Newbury...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gio

        Macouns are ready at Alfalfa Farm. We got some really tasty ones on Saturday..

      2. Honey Pot in Stow is currently picking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: josephlapusata

          We usually go to their neighbor, Carver Hill. Smaller, basic - usually have decent Macouns but they were gone already - also mentioned the weird weather over the winter and losing a lot of buds to frost.

          We got decent Cortlands and Romes - $12/peck PYO.

          Decent cider donuts and cider. Worth it to us not to have the circus at Honey Pot.

        2. Last Saturday I went to Phil's Apples in Harvard and they said that that would probably be their last day for the season. The spring frost hit them hard. They said they lost 90 percent of their crop. They recommended Doe's to us. We went there too and they had plenty of apples.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            Thanks to everyone..looks like Oct 10 might be a gamble. Maybe if I order next week I can get it in. I just wish I could get Dowse's cider but it doesn;t travel.

          2. try cider hill farm in amesbury. because of their geographical location, I think, I read that they have most of their usual crop this year. also great unpasteurized cider and cider donuts.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Madrid

              I tried the Cider Hill farm cider and donuts for the first time last Friday..delicious!!

              1. re: BlueMagic

                The New England conversation struck a chord with this ChowHound in Florida. I always enjoy "real" apple cider during the season (when available down here), and it is already appearing in some stores here. Last week I said to my wife, "No, its too early. We'll pick some up closer to Thanksgiving." Maybe we should pick some up after all, enjoy a few sips in early October and consider ourselves lucky. Thanks for the heads-up.

                1. re: Florida Hound

                  There is no such thing as real apple cider in stores. It's all been killed (pasteurized), by FDA requirement since earlier in the last decade. Real - living, that is - cider is only available directly from orchards. The stuff in the supermarket is just cloudy dead apple juice.

            2. All - Made our second trip to Phil's Apples in Harvard today for a couple of gallons of his most excellent cider. Macintosh this time of year, but as mentioned above, their orchard experienced a nasty frost last spring.
              If you're looking for some of the best unpasteurized cider around, we'd recommend a trip before the limited crop disappears.


              1. I got some great Cortlands at Ingaldsby Farm in Boxford last weekend. The were a little smaller than usual..but tasted great. The pick your own was going strong.

                1. Well, I had one of the weirdest apple season experiences ever on Friday, though it was not local, it might be a harbinger of the local season. I was on the North Fork of Long Island, and a farmstand had local Russet apples. Russet apples. On the last day of summer. Russet apples, traditionally, are a late season apple (think early-mid November). I was gobsmacked. Oh, and they were tight, juicy and tart, the way they should be.


                  1. We went to Russel Orchard in Ipswich this Sunday and had an apple variety that was completely new to me: Gingergold. Thin-skinned, sweet and non-dense texture (is there a word for that... rarified?) We got there at 11AM and there were lots of people, but no traffic getting there.When we left (2-ish) there was a line of cars waiting to get in about a half mile long.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: croutonweb

                      Gingergold has been around area orchards for at least 15 years, if not more. It got eclipsed by Honeycrisp. My favorite newer variety is Suncrisp (at least in years when we don't get tons of rain), but the hot new variety of the moment is Sweet Tango. I prefer late season type apples (tart or at least subacid, crisp and firm, good keepers).

                    2. I picked at Shelburne Farm in Stowe this weekend and they had a great variety: macoun, macs, cortlands, empires and fuji. You could still pick a full galas if you found them on the trees and they have honeycrisp in the store. Their roped-off rows looked promising, so should have another coupld of weeks for picking. A little crowded with all the kiddies running about, but once you got into the orchard no problems.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ladym16

                        Cider Hill in Amesbury has an excellent crop. Macs are pretty much done, but Macoun and other varieties still going strong.

                      2. Does anyone have any updates on apple picking? Which orchards still look promising/still picking and which are done for the season?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: viperlush

                          I got an email newsletter from Cider Hill in Amesbury yesterday saying they still have a lot to pick.

                          1. re: Madrid

                            Do you know what types? I can't find any info on their site.

                            1. re: viperlush

                              A week of rain, mist and dreary days might make us feel like fall is over, but you can still enjoy a day at our farm when the weather turns nice this weekend. What apples we have remaining are at their peak of flavor. You can still pick these:
                              McIntosh - few
                              Cortland - few
                              Macoun -
                              Early Fuji
                              Red Delicious
                              Northern Spy
                              Arkansas Black - few"

                              1. re: Madrid

                                Thanks again for the recommendation. BF and I went apple picking today. When we got there at 10:30 the lot was half full and was full by the time we left around 1. The variety of apple available was overwhelming, so I ended up buying some in the store because I missed some varieties in the orchards. Luckily we finished picking and got back to the store as a fresh batch of cider donuts were placed in the case. Light and fluffy they were some of the best that we've had. Hot cider was also great. Reasonably priced at $1.89/lb.

                          2. re: viperlush

                            Rte 2 and 495 Shelburne farms website says they are still picking many of the late crop apples jonagold, empire on their website, I haven't been this year but have picked there for many years.
                            Great cider as well as donuts.

                          3. I live in Stow, the apples are starting to come in, I'd say about 2/3 of the crop is ready. I would recommend Carver Orchards and Shelburne Farms over Honey Pot. Carver if you just want to pick apples in a rural place off the road. Shelburne if you want the whole experience with hay rides, stuff for kids, etc.

                            1. hazelhurst.... curious if you got your screen name from a small resort town in Northern WI. Its a place I'm quite fond of!!!

                              1. For those who've yet to do their picking, Carlson Orchard up in Harvard, MA is in full-swing. We went today and their trees are overflowing with Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Northern Spy, Red Rome, Golden Delicious, and probably a few that I'm missing. And yes, cider donuts (but no cider donut sundae).

                                1. Bumping this up. Recommendations on where to go this year? This weekend or next... Thanks!

                                  19 Replies
                                  1. re: rozziegirl

                                    We went to Cider Hill in Amesbury again this year and really enjoyed it. Plan to make another trip out there later this month. Apples are $1.85/lb (both PYO and in the store). You pay for what you pick and they don't charge an entry fee. Their website lists the available apples. Some of the best apple donuts I've had. Light and fluffy. We get there early (leave Cambridge around 8:30ish) and enjoy a couple donuts and cider before heading out to pick. Hayride to take you to part of the orchard, some animal, and a nice store. Conveniently close to NH.

                                    1. re: viperlush

                                      I love Cider Hill. Those doughnuts are fantastic.

                                      1. re: maillard

                                        yep and so is the cider. nice pumpkins, too.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          Really appreciate last year's recommendation to try Cider Hill. I remembered this thread from last year when I was trying to find a place to go earlier this month. Glad I went back to Cider Hill.

                                    2. re: rozziegirl

                                      I endured Honey Pot in Stowe last Sunday arriving around 11am (not my call - the timing or the venue). After waiting in line to park the car, standing in the line to pay for apple picking, then the line for the tractor ride, then the line for hotdogs, I just couldn't bring myself to stand in the long line for donuts. The line to drive out just topped off the whole new england apple picking experience for me ...can't wait to do it again next year!

                                      So if you must go, get there right before they open and hit the farm store right away for donuts/cider, then go pick apples, or just go on a weekday.

                                      1. re: LStaff

                                        Aaaaaaack. I am supposed to go to Honey Pot this Saturday. I will be sure to get there early. I'll bring a picnic and forget about the tractor ride.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Park at the farm store if you can. The line for the tractor ride isn't bad from that side - I think you can just pay when you get on instead of getting a ticket/stamp before hand. The side where they park the cars for apple picking near the pond is where the bottleneck is.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Here's my Honey Pot strategy, which worked last Sat: Get there right before 10 and park on the Farm Store side. Go right up to the stand and by a dozen or so donuts to take home, go in the store and get your cider, no line and you can buy your bags in there, too. Pick your apples. When you're done, if the line for donuts isn't too long (and it wasn't for us last weekend) get another half dozen fresh hot donuts to eat there and on the way home.
                                            God speed!

                                            1. re: justbeingpolite

                                              Our own amendment to this general strategy: buy your apples from the bags inside the store and leave the apple picking to the people who get paid to pick apples. (And, before you do any of this, drive over to Blood Farm in Groton to buy a cooler full of meat, hitting Stow on the way home.)

                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                Now. where's that darn "like" button?
                                                Scrooge. I pick 'em off the trees 'cause they're minutes, if not hours, fresher that way. Plus I've usually got some children in tow, and it's as good a way to kill a few hours as any...

                                                gotta hit Blood Farm now, though

                                        2. re: rozziegirl

                                          We hit our usual "Phil's Upick" in Harvard. New owners this year after the passing of Phil, but nothing is changing. What I love is that it's super mellow, the unpasteurized cider is delicious, and the apples are plentiful.

                                          1. re: Klunco

                                            Phil passed away? That's really sad. I've been going there every year for the last decade to pick up ~12 gallons of cider to ferment.

                                            Always enjoyed, in some weird way, Phil's rather grumpy demeanor. "I can't sell you 12 gallons. Then I won't have any left for anyone else." (Pulls the cash out of my hands, pulls 12 gallons out of his fridge, which is packed with containers.) "Why would you want to ferment my cider? It's perfect as is!" ... and so on and so forth. I hope the new owners keep up the quality level. I'm not sure what Phil did with the apples but his juice became many awesome batches of hard cider.

                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              Do you bottle the cider, if so how? Thx.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                No; I own a few Cornelius kegs (5-gallon soda kegs). So for me my 12 gallons creates--effectively--two 5-gallon bottles. (All of that cloudy stuff, plus yeast, precipitates out during fermentation and your input 6 gallons is reduced.)

                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                  Nice, and you can keep it fizzy. If you ever need help drinking it, just let me know.

                                                  The three times I've made it, once from apples, twice from pasteurized cider, I just did a gallon or two and drank it all fresh.

                                            2. re: Klunco

                                              Thanks for the post about Phil's. My apple-picking friend and I had both heard of his passing. Word was the orchard business was closed. So we went to Honey Pot two weeks ago. Good cider and donuts, but definitely over the line for our tastes in terms of big crowds and too many "attractions" that we just did not care about (no children to amuse). Then I heard that Phil's was open under new management/ownership. I definitely plan a trip there to support the business. His cider was always the best.

                                            3. re: rozziegirl

                                              Went to Russel on Sunday. It was absolutely jammed with people, parking was a mess, and IMO it's rather overpriced ($20 for a peck).

                                              Plenty of apples on the trees once we walked a bit beyond the crowds. We got Cortland, Empire, McIntosh, Braeburn, and one other variety I can't recall the name of (very small, very sweet apples).

                                              Once done picking, tried to buy some stuff in the store but it was insane. Crowd five deep around the hard cider tasting table and a 45 minute line for cider doughnuts. I don't think I'd ever go back there on a weekend. I much prefer some of the places in Harvard (Westwood, Phil's, etc.).

                                              1. re: rozziegirl

                                                The golden rule of thumb: as far away from Boston as possible. >90 minutes away would not be a bad idea.... The closer to Boston, the more of a zoo it will be.

                                                1. re: rozziegirl

                                                  Apples are running early this year, don't wait too long.

                                                2. Apples are running early this year for sure! But they are delicious...Smolak Farms in North Andover has the best heirloom orchard and the regulars. I purchased two weeks ago...Macs , Cortlands, Gingergold. Parlee Frams in Tyngsborough is also great....all varieties are waiting to be sold. The Cortlands are nice and tart!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ParisLady

                                                    Parlee Farms is a good spot but beware that they can be ridiculously busy during the weekends during apple season. On a bright sunny day in the 70s, they've been known to have that many people that they need to close the orchard, and those that are able to get in wait an hour to pick apples.

                                                    You can never go wrong with the apple city in Londonderry. Mack's, Sunnycrest, and Elwood are places you can't go wrong with. Sunnycrest is usually done by Thanksgiving, and Mack's lasts til March or April. Elwood is primarily just during PYO season. Even in the busiest of days, I still find any apple spot to be a great experience in Londonderry.