Last weekend, we got the heck out of the hustle and bustle of the city, and spent time at Kuipers Family Farm. It's about an hour outside of Chicago, and offers all the best of fall - apple picking, a pumpkin patch, pig races, haunted houses and a corn maze.
We got lucky with the weather. The temps had dipped a bit, which kept the crowds reasonable, but the sun was shining almost the whole day. There is something about fresh, crisp fall air that does your soul some good.
We started the day by taking a tractor ride out to the orchard. We were kind of late in the season, so many of the apples were already picked over, but we had the chance to pick Ida Red and Snow Sweet apples.
Honestly, I had never heard of either of those varieties of apples. If you're in the same boat as me, Ida Reds are - wait for it - red apples. Not as dark or solid red as the ubiquitous red delicious, but nearly all red on the outside with a very white inside. Snow Sweet have more green and yellow in the skin, and have both a sweet and tangy flavor. Both varieties are great cooking apples.
We also had access to some pre-picked Gala apples - for those looking for a nice snacking apple, or for those with kiddos who may not have the patience for going up and down the aisles.
I loved that they encouraged us to taste the apples as we went, to make sure that we liked what we were picking. Unfortunately, there were a lot of apples on the ground that were perfectly good, but had been rejected for one reason or another. I hated seeing the wasted food. We tried to find some of the good ones on the ground to add to our bag.
Back at the store, we got to try fresh apple cider, cider donuts, fresh peanut butter, and all the best spreads, jams, honey and baking mixes you'd expect from a country store.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy an apple is with almond butter and cinnamon. Makes a great afternoon snack, or even dessert.
Stay tuned for more apple recipes in the coming week. I've been experimenting in the kitchen!