“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.” – Welsh Proverb
With a hint of fall in the air these days, I cannot help but dream of all the wonderful traditions that come with it. The smokey aroma of crackling fires in the hearth, the crunch of fallen leaves beneath my feet, and apple picking at one of orchards near me in mid-coast Maine. I’ll leaf through my recipe book for new ways to feature apples for my made-from-scratch breakfast entrees, and look forward to the snap of my first crisp bite of an apple picked straight from the tree.
Apple picking, it turns out, is a Maine tradition. Come fall, when the trees are laden with bright red, green, and yellow apples, travelers from near and far find their way to mid-coast Maine. Perhaps they are planning to recreate Grandma’s flaky apple pie. Maybe it’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream atop an apple crisp that they yearn for. Or, like me, just the sweet juice of a red delicious apple trickling down my chin.
Driving along a winding country road splashed with the bright colors of fall to an apple orchard evokes childhood memories of similar outings with family and friends for many. To walk among the apple trees, carefully choosing only the ripest apples to pick, on a crisp fall day is among the great pleasures of visiting mid-coast Maine in autumn.
Apple season in Maine begins in late August and continues long into October. Each variety of apple ripens at its own pace. But the mainstay of Maine’s apples is the McIntosh. Known for its excellent flavor and used in dozens of recipes from apple sauce to apple cider, it’s hard to go wrong with a McIntosh.
Speaking of cider, scattered around the state you’ll find cider mills pressing fresh cider, and fermenting apple wines and hard ciders as well. No doubt when you walk into one of those mills, you’ll also find fresh cider donuts perfuming the air.
To aid you in your search of an apple orchard to explore when next you visit the Newcastle Inn, I’ve put together a list of those within a modest drive. Beyond the simple act of picking your own apples, you may encounter orchards offering farm tours by horse-drawn wagon, or one that operates a small café for a hearty lunch of homemade soups and fresh-baked pies and bread.
Clark’s Cove Farm & Inn
107 Ridge Rd.
Bear Well Orchard
County Fair Farm
Hardy Farms Apple Orchard
Church St., 1/2 mile from Rte. 105
Hope Corner, ME
560 Main Rd. South (Rte. 1A)
434 Camden Road
Pleasant Pond Orchard
430 Brunswick Rd., Rte. 201
Rocky Ridge Orchard & Bakery