I absolutely love this time of year — there’s a crispness in the air that signals the start of autumn as well as new beginnings in many areas of my life: a new school year, the Jewish New Year, and, since both of my kids celebrate fall birthdays, a true new year begins in their lives. Apples have become symbolic of this time of year, for me at least, as it’s the time when abundant crops of the fruit are available and at their best.
Jonamac Orchards-19412 Shabbona Rd, Malta
Open: Mid-August thru Thanksgiving, 7 days 9-5:30
Description: Pick your own apples from nearly 5,000 trees on 65 acres, plus kids’ activity area, 10 acre corn maze, horse drawn hay rides and bakery. Also pick pumpkins, squash and raspberries.
Royal Oak Farm and Fruit Orchard – 15908 Hebron Rd, Harvard, IL
Open: August 1-Nov. 15 Mon-Sat 9:30-5
Description: Over 10,000 apple trees including 24 varieties set on 120 acres with gift shop, bakery, restaurant, petting zoo, train and carousel rides and orchard tours. Also pick raspberries, peaches and pumpkins.
Apple Holler-5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Sturtevant
Open: Sun-Thurs 7-7:30, Fri-Sat 7-8:30
Description: 10,000 apple trees on 50 acres plus pumpkins, corn maze, petting zoo, bakery, restaurant, dinner theatre, pig roasts and bluegrass festival.
Apple Barn Orchard & Winery-W 6384 Sugar Creek Rd, Elkhorn
Open: Sept/Oct Tues-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5
Description: A unique country store house in a remodeled barn offering fresh picked or pick your own apples, plus fruit wines, pies, cider, cider donuts, caramel apples and pumpkins. Take a tractor-train ride or play in a tree maze. Last weekend in Sept. is “Apple Fest.”
Kercher’s Sunrise Orchards Farm Market-19498 Co. Rd. 38, Goshen
Phone: 574-533-6311 Open: Mon-Sat 8:30-5:30, Sun 12-5 (Sept/Oct)
Description: One of the largest orchards in the state, offering fruits, vegetables, locally made jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup and more. Free hayrides in the fall, plus a pumpkin patch.
And, when you have picked all of the apples you can carry, check out some great recipes here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/apple/index.html.