An Experience Ripe for the Picking: Your Guide to Apple Picking in Lebanon Valley

Apple picking season is officially upon us! In the Lebanon Valley, you can experience the wonder of Lebanon’s agriculture and the delight in picking your own apples from local farms. Skip the grocery store, and embrace the fresh air and taste the sweet crunch when you bite into a locally-grown apple. From picking, to canning, and cooking, we have all of the information you need to have a sweet apple picking experience in Lebanon Valley. 

Local Apple Orchards

We’ve done the research for you and have come up with the best places for you to pick your own apples! Gray’s Apple Ridge, Honey Bear Orchards, and Sycamore Spring Orchard all offer unique experiences. Visit one or all of these orchards over the next few weeks during peak apple season.

Gray’s Apple Ridge

Nestled on an adorable property in Jonestown, PA, this orchard offers a fun experience for the whole family. When you arrive at Gray’s Apple Ridge, you will notice the care and attention to detail throughout the property. From handmade signage to scarecrows, There are plenty of photo opportunities on the grounds.

Gray’s offers a large selection of approximately 13 varieties of apples to choose from throughout the season. Customers can clearly identify the species of apples available by the markings near the trees. At this orchard, all of their trees are dwarf trees which allows children to have easy access to pick their apples. Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the porch to purchase additional items such as homemade apple cider, apple crisp, jams, and more!

Honey Bear Orchards

Grab a basket and get picking! At Honey Bear Orchards, you will be greeted by the Heagy family, who have been operating their orchards since 1980. Their attention to care and quality of their fruit is what makes their orchard so unique. 

This large orchard offers a variety of apples to choose from throughout the season! They also offer peaches, strawberries, cherries, apricots, raspberries, nectarines, and plums, so you’ll always have a reason to go back and visit them throughout the entire year! At the end of your trip, browse through the barn for a variety of other fresh produce.

Sycamore Spring Orchard

Sycamore Spring Orchard is far from just an orchard. This family owned business is also a market and bakery! With so much to offer, you and your family can make a day out of shopping at the orchard. 

From September through October, there are ten varieties of apples that you can pick on your own. While you’re there, indulge in a warm apple dumpling or their weekly special that’s baked fresh in their kitchen everyday! Shop in the market and take home a variety of cookies, cakes, pies, soups, and so much more. 

If you would prefer to buy your apples after they have already been picked, there are plenty of markets in Lebanon Valley that you can choose from! Shop at Frey’s Farm Market, Lebanon Farmers Market, Risser-Marvel Market, or Seyferts Orchards for fresh produce. 

Apple Recipes

After you’ve purchased or picked your local apples, you may be wondering what you can make with them! Indulge in tradition by baking Dutch recipes that reflect the homemade goodness of Lebanon County.

Dutch Apple Pie

There’s simply nothing better than a warm dutch apple pie on a cool fall day. This recipe will satisfy your sweet-tooth and warm your soul. 

Recipe:

  • 8 cups Granny Smith apples. cored (peeled, cored, and sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup White sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Topping
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Butter (cold)

If baking isn’t your jam, but apple butter is, we have the perfect recipe for you!

Dutch Apple Butter

Apple butter should be a staple in every Pennsylvania-Dutch home. From cookies to BBQ, this sweet spread can be used in a variety of ways. 

Recipe:

  • 6 apples (peeled, cored and quartered, about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or juice (unsweetened)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sweetener (agave syrup, honey, sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

This recipe is a great way to keep the sugar content low. However, if you would like to stick to a more traditional recipe, swap the sweetener for equal parts sugar. 

Home Canning

Another great way to utilize all of the delicious apples you’ve just picked is to preserve them by canning them at home! In order to can apples, there are a few supplies you will need. 

Supplies:

  • water bath canner
  • canning jars
  • canning seals and rings
  • jar lifter and canning funnel
  • large pot or blancher
  • bowls
  • large spoons
  • sharp knife
  • towels and dish cloths

As for the ingredients, you only need your apples and some sugar. 

The first step to canning is to create a syrup. The purpose of the syrup is to retain the shape, color, and flavor of the fruit. Without syrup, your canned apples will spoil. To make the syrup, heat water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. 

Next, peel, core, and slice your apples and place into a large pot with your syrup. Bring this to a boil for 5 minutes and then pour the mixture into a jar. Then, place your canning rack into the water bath canner, but up out of the water. Remove the air bubbles from the filled jars to avoid the build-up of excess pressure in the jar. 

Clean the rim of the jar and seal tightly. Place the jar in the rack above the water to keep the jar warm while you are canning any other jars. Once they are all filled, lower jars into canner, and heat water to a boil and process for 20 minutes.

There are so many things you can do with the delicious local apples that you pick this fall! From apple pie to apple butter, there are a variety of dutch recipes for you to try. Enjoy the experience of picking your own apples from local orchards right here in the Lebanon Valley. 

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