Aamodt’s Apple Farm, nestled just outside the charming city of Stillwater, Minn. and less than a half-hour’s drive from the Twin Cities, blossoms into a bustling, family-friendly U-Pick and retail destination each fall.
“Doing a little upfront research will help you get the most out of the on-farm experience,” says proprietor Chris Aamodt. Chris provides several tips for those who want to “go out on a limb” and venture to a local U-Pick orchard this Labor Day:
Tip #1: Get to know your local farmers
When visiting an orchard, take a moment to learn about the land, the trees and the growing practices. Many farmers are eager to talk with visitors about their orchard. Also, understand that not all the apples may be grown on site. Aamodt’s Apple Farm partners with another Minnesota operation, South Wind Orchards, to provide customers with a larger inventory and wider selection.
Tip #2: Incorporate a little variety
Getting to know the varieties grown in your area can be a fun and delicious adventure! A great resource is the U.S. Apple Association’s online variety guide. (For more information on the University of Minnesota varieties, visit www.apples.umn.edu.) Select some delicious specimens during your next U-pick trip and have fun taste-testing them with these apple tasting tips and tricks.
Tip #3: Be U-Pick savvy
Hours and offerings vary widely, so consider the following:
- Call the orchard or visit its website for events and “agritainment” offered onsite. If you’re looking for a particular variety, confirm availability as harvest times vary.
- Bring comfortable shoes for walking, apply sunscreen and dress in layers for those unpredictable fall afternoons.
- Many U-Pick locations are set up to accommodate day-long outings. Make the most of your trip by packing a picnic lunch, lawn blanket or Frisbee.
- When walking through the orchard, take a moment to stop and smell the apples (or the apple blossoms when visiting in the spring)! Play games with the family by looking for and identifying different species of plant, animal and bug life, or discuss the apple growing process and pollination (visit USApple.com for more information on how apple trees are grown).
- When you get home, those gorgeous fall finds may beg for a place on your counter, but apples keep best in the refrigerator crisper. Kept cool, apples will stay fresh for about 4-6 weeks.
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