It’s apple season! Scott’s Orchard has been offering pick-your-own apples to the Tennessee Valley since Fall 2017, although they have been growing apples since 1927! Our family has visited every fall season for pick-your-own since they started offering it, and it’s always one of our favorite autumn activities.
Pick-your-own at Scott’s Orchard kicked off at the beginning of September, and will be offered Thursdays through Sundays this year. Current varieties available include Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious, with other varieties like Fuji and Pink Lady becoming available later in the season. When you arrive at the orchard, you’ll check-in at the outdoor desk and pay the $5 fee (or, you can pre-pay the discounted price of $3 if you book ahead online). At the desk, you can choose how many apples you want to pick and pay by quantity. This year our family of four easily picked a peck and a half; I am always shocked by how quickly apple picking goes! Those bags fill up fast! I recommend snagging one of the complimentary wagons at the check-in desk if available – those apples really add up and you’ll want it toward the end of your trip.
In addition to the apples offered for pick-your-own, the Scott’s Orchard general store will have even more varieties, plus a ton of other fun items including local honey, caramel apples, farm flowers, and ice cream. We never leave without a gallon of their apple cider, and usually get apple slushies to enjoy while we’re there too. One year, we packed our own lunches and ate at the picnic tables that are hidden under the Chestnut trees in the middle of the property.
Each year, the orchard seems to add a little more – more trees, more kids activities (this year a bounce pad), more food options (check ahead on social media to see if there will be a food truck parked out front or if they’ll be offering their new apple cider donuts that day). Also new this year is a VIP Operations Tour on select Saturdays. We did the original operations tour in 2018 which included a ride in a hay wagon pulled by a tractor, with a Scott family member narrating as everyone traveled through the orchard. I remember feeling like I learned so much about peaches and apples! For example, we were told that if there is a spring freeze, they spray the trees with water – the ice that forms over the fruit will keep it at 32° and save it from being ruined (which happens if the fruit reaches 28° or below). Such an interesting fact! Our tour ended with a walkthrough of the processing area, which was also very neat. The VIP tour this year also offers exclusive access to the commercial orchard for picking.
When you get home from the orchard, you’ll want to wash your apples with either vinegar or baking soda, and then we store ours in the refrigerator. In the past we’ve made apple pie and apple crisp, but our very favorite thing to do with all our apples is to make apple butter! We always make it using our crockpot – it cooks low and slow for 10+ hours and makes the entire house smell like fall. What will you bake with your apples?
2163 Scott Road
Hazel Green, AL 35750
If booked in advance $3.00 per person plus the price of apples.
Walk-up $5 per person plus the price of apples.
½ peck of apples: $5.00
Peck of apples: $8.00
Homemade Crockpot Apple Butter
6-7 large apples, cored and sliced (enough to fill the crockpot ¾ full)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
freshly grated nutmeg (or, 1/8 tsp ground)
Core, peel and slice your apples (you want to fill your slow cooker about 3/4 full – we use whatever varieties we come home with from the orchard). Pour in sugars, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, and nutmeg and stir to mix. Cook on low 10+ hours until apples are a deep brown color (I stir the mixture every few hours). Remove top and cool, then use an immersion blender until the apple butter is to your desired consistency. Pack in small glass jars and refrigerate up to two weeks. Use to make a parfait with plain yogurt and granola, or to top vanilla ice cream or waffles.
California native Mande Klein is wife to a super scientist husband, and mama to two young boys. She is a former elementary school teacher of almost ten years and holds a masters degree in education from UC Santa Barbara. Mande blogs at Klein dot Co about everything from baking pie and crafting with kids to scuba diving with sharks. Her loves include coffee, cocktails, yoga, and books.