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Virginia Grown: Apple Picking at Stribling Orchards

September 20th, 2012 · 6 Comments


We were recently in a small market in our neighborhood picking up one or two things, when the boy picked up a shiny red apple and tossed it in the basket. I admit I felt more than a little silly telling him to put it back — but we had a bag full of fresh, local apples at home. The last time we were in the same market, I let the kids buy two of the waxy, Grown in Washington labeled apples, only to have them take a few bites and toss the rest. My kids are apple junkies, but there’s no time like fall in Virginia to appreciate the difference between supermarket fruit and fresh, local varieties. There are a number of orchards within an hour or so drive from Washington, DC, but we tend to return to Stribling Orchard just off I-66 in Markham, Va.

picking apples at stribling orchard

Stribling has a couple perks that make it the ideal apple picking destination for the 5-and-under crowd:

  • You can pick up bags, but then drive into the area of the orchard where you want to pick.
  • Sticks. Sure, the small trees have plenty of fruit within easy grabbing reach, but these cool picking sticks can be used to reach the primo fruit up high. If you have boys, you know what a powerful draw this is!
  • Bathrooms. Actual running water bathrooms — for the essential hand washing before picnicking.
  • Food. On the weekends they set up a grill offering burgers and hot dogs, and sometimes full barbecue (ribs, chicken and pulled pork). There’s also the bakery and store where you can find fresh baked cider doughnuts, pies and preserves.

apple picking sticks at stribling

Of course, it can also be quite crowded on the weekends so try to arrive early and be prepared for lines at check out and those bathrooms. Here are a couple tips gleaned from our annual apple-picking adventures.

Tips for a Happy Apple-Picking Outing:

1. Hats and sunscreen are essential. Stribling, and many other local orchards, are on top of hills which offer gorgeous views — and full sunshine.

2. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky and put kids in long pants. There’s a lot of spoiling fruit on the ground and the kids will be traipsing through tall grass and other brambly undergrowth.

3. Try to find the variety you most want first. Once kids get on a roll picking, there’s no slowing them down and they may fill their bag at the first tree.

favorite find at stribling orchard farm store

apple by nikki mcclureGIVEAWAY: So you’ve gone apple picking and now you’re wondering what to do with all those apples? I’ve started an Apple Fest board over on Pinterest. Pin your favorite apple recipe, then share a link in the comments here so I can repin it to the board — or tag your pin #foodietotsapplefest & I’ll find it!

Every apple recipe posted below or tagged on Pinterest will give you one chance to win a copy of the gorgeous book Apple by Nikki McClure. You can “like” FoodieTots on Facebook and leave an additional comment below for an extra entry (or note if you’re already a fan). Contest is open to US residents only and will close at 11:59pm Eastern on September 30. Good luck, and happy apple eating!

blue skies at stribling orchard

Tags: fall · fresh from the... · fruit · Know Your Food · local farms · NoVA Locavore

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nutella // Sep 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Liked you on FB. I love Stribling and when I lived in VA we went there often. In MD, we go to Larriland Farms for strawberries in the spring and apples and pumpkins in the fall.

  • 2 Nutella // Sep 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I split a case of Honey Crisps from our local vendor (three springs fruit farm) with a neighbor this week, so I’m up to my ears in apples! Mostly we’ve been eating them out of hand or sliced and dipped in natural PB. The latter only happens out of sight of my 3 year old, who has a mild peanut allergy.

    The newest thing I did with them was make a risotto. I used butter, olive oil, an onion, arborio rice, some white cooking wine, homemade duck stock, and fresh thyme. Then in the last 3 minutes of cooking, I added diced unpeeled apple. I finished it with fresh mozzarella and chopped walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. It was delicious and very filling and the next day the leftovers were just as good! Although certainly the duck stock was tasty, I think it would work just as well with veggie or chicken stock.

  • 3 Ellen Parlee // Sep 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I’d also recommend bringing a jacket! You may end up spending awhile at the farm when you go picking and the temperature could cool off. It’s best to be prepared!

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