Last weekend, we ventured out west to Markham, VA, where we visited one of the local orchards and indulged in one of our favorite seasonal activities – apple picking. (Although, truth be told we venture out west in the spring and summer too for other fruits such as berries and peaches.) About an hour drive outside of the DC area, Hartland Orchard is one of the many orchards off of Exit 18. Their property is expansive, and hosts a variety of edibles for your selection. In the fall, they also have a small pumpkin patch, and sell additional goods such as local honey and apple cider.
While you may be thinking that September is too early to pick apples, in fact it is the perfect time to go. Apples were just coming to fruition (no pun intended), and bountiful. For $15 a peck, you can walk away with a GAZILLION apples. Seriously. We have already made a large apple pie, homemade applesauce (see below), given many away, and still have plenty left over. If you do decide to venture down Rte. 66, then be sure to check out one of the many wineries nearby. Recently I posted a comprehensive guide to breweries in the DMV area with things to do near by each, one of which is near the orchards. All of which are tried and true by us, and provide you with more to do once you’ve made the drive.
What you need:
1 cup water
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Wash, peel, and chop apples.
- Place apples into a large pot with 1 cup of water, and boil.
- Stir apples occasionally, and once they become soft, use a masher to create your sauce. Repeat this process until the sauce becomes the consistency you desire.
- Add a splash of apple cider for extra flavor, stirring until blended in.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the dry goods.
- Once your apples have become a sauce consistency, remove from heat and stir in the dry mix.
- Chill or serve hot.
***If you cannot achieve your optimal apple sauce consistency, remove the apples from the pan and sit until they become room temperature. Once they have cooled down, place in a blender or food processor.
Virginia is beautiful in the fall. If you are lucky enough to live close, you need to make sure that you plan time for weekend adventures out in the mountains. Apple picking, wineries, hiking, and taking drive to look at leaves, are just a few of our favorite ways to spend the autumn days.