Five Pick-Your-Own Apple Farms Not to Miss in the DMV

By Raisa Aziz, special to Edible DC AppleHand

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning color and we get to be cosy without the actual cold. What better way to kick off the season than with Fall’s most perfect, edible love child.

Apple varieties will soon take over your local farmers market but you can easily pick your own apples for a sweet farm-to-table (or belly!) experience. Meander through the orchards and fill up your bushel to take home for pies, jellies and snacking later on. Here are our top picks for the season. Be sure to always call the farm ahead of time and bring your own containers.

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Milburn Orchards

Milburn Orchards is located in Elkton, Maryland and has been family run since 1902. They offer a pick-your-own adventure every weekend throughout the harvest season. Royal Gala, Honeycrisp and Orange Honey varietals are already available with more to come as the season picks up. Milburn Orchards also has delicious light lunch and sweet treat options (did someone say homemade ice cream sandwiches?) on the Orchard View Deck to refuel after apple picking. Pro tip: Get a freshly-baked pie from the market to take home after apple picking.

Hollin Farms

About an hour from DC, Hollin Farms is located in Delaplane, Virginia, and specializes in grass-fed Angus beef alongside the pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. Apples and pumpkins are available for picking with Fuji, Empire and Golden Delicious apples already in full swing. Pro tip: bring cash on the weekends to avoid the credit card line.

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Larriland Farm 

Larriland Farm is a family owned and operated farm in Western Howard County, Maryland. Always the crowd pleaser, Larriland Farm has hayrides and a straw maze to get lost in once you’re done picking apples. Next to ripen are the Empire apples and there are 14 more varieties to follow after that. Pro tip: best to go in October when other Fall favorites (pumpkins and squash) will be ripe and ready too.

Butler’s Orchard 

Pick-your-own apple season has kicked off at Butler’s Orchard. Located in Germantown, Maryland, Butler’s Orchard is perfect for a family adventure. Their famous Pumpkin Festival means pumpkin picking, hayrides, jumps in the hayloft and the Pumpkinland exhibition (a display of fairytale characters built from pumpkins) along with your pick-you-own experience. The bakery also has fresh bread, baked goods and jams and jellies available. Pro tip: Butler’s Orchard will be closed September 21-25 to prep for the Pumpkin Festival, which begins September 26-27 and continues through weekends in October.

Homestead Farm 

An easy 45 minute drive from DC, Homestead Farm is located in Poolesville, Maryland, and is run by the Allnut family who have  been farming in the area since 1763! They offer pick-your-own fruits and veggies throughout harvest season. Fuji, Crimson Crisp and Jonagold apples are already ripe for picking. Their pumpkin patch (and pumpkin picking) is open from late September on. Homestead’s market offers a ton of fruits and veggies alongside delicious jams, hot sauces and honey. Pro tip: bring your camera - between the pumpkins and the tiny children playing amongst the pumpkins, it’s an overload of insta-worthy moments.

Apple, Cheddar & Rosemary Galette Recipe Here


RaisaRaisa Aziz (@raisaaziz) is a food stylist, photographer and writer in the DC Area. When not cooking, baking or eating, you can find her bopping about town in search of local adventures.

Baked apples for the soul

by Kristen Hartke, managing editor of Edible DC

HomesteadPickingApple Picking Locally at the Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD (Photo by Raisa Aziz)

I really love to go apple picking in the fall. It may be a throwback to my childhood in New England, but there is something about going out to the orchard on a crisp autumn afternoon, with fat bumblebees buzzing around the fallen apples on the ground and filling a bushel basket so full of Staymans, Honeycrisps, and Macintosh that it takes at least two people to carry it. For my family, it was Bishop’s Orchard in Guilford, Connecticut, where my dad and I would pick so many apples that we’d feast on them for weeks after, my mom making everything from dumplings to pie to chutney. But the treat that we loved best was baked apples, oozing and caramelized from the oven and then topped with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

HomesteadAppleApple Picking Locally at the Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD (Photo by Raisa Aziz)

Baked apples are kind of legendary in my family because of my dad’s ancestor, Henry Francisco, or Old Henry. Old Henry purportedly lived to be 134 years old, finally succumbing to old age in 1820 at his farm in upstate New York, having served as a drummer boy at Queen Anne’s coronation and later a soldier in both the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars. After some years running a pub, he later attributed his longevity to eating bread and butter, black tea, and baked apples for three meals a day.

applecratesApple Crates at Ridgefield Farm in West Virginia (Photo by Kristen Hartke)

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to visit friends who own Ridgefield Farm in West Virginia — Scott and Alan have told me about their pick-your-own apple orchard for years, but it was hard to imagine living someplace where every weekend throughout the fall there are actually thousands of people in your backyard, picking apples and pumpkins, going on hayrides, or trying to make their way through the corn maze. They told me that people stop by often, just to reminisce about coming there to pick apples when they were kids, kind of like me with Bishop’s Orchard.

While I was visiting, I picked some unbelievably huge Mutsu apples — Alan recommended them as perfect for baked apples, because they hold their shape really well. And so, in honor of Old Henry, and childhood memories, a tasty new twist on baked apples. Live long and prosper.

baked applesBaked Apples (Photo by Kristen Hartke)

Old Henry’s Baked Apples with Black Tea Caramel Sauce

for the baked apples:

4 medium to large baking apples — Mutsu, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady are good options

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped roughly

1/4 cup rum or whiskey

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

a little olive oil or butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples, put them in a baking dish, and set aside. Mix together the other ingredients, except the olive oil or butter, and let marinate for about 10 minutes. Spoon the filling into the center of the apples, packing in well, then drizzle a little olive oil or place a pat of butter over the top of each apple. Pour the liquid from the filling mixture into the baking dish and add another 1/4 cup of apple cider or water. Cover the dish very loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes, then serve with Black Tea Caramel Sauce (recipe below).

for the Black Tea Caramel Sauce:

1 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or I have even used coconut milk

2 tablespoons strong brewed tea (I like Earl Grey)

Pinch of salt

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and whisk together over medium-low heat. Keep whisking for about 6 or 7 minutes as it begins to thicken, then turn off heat and let stand — it should continue thickening. At this point, you can refrigerate it and serve it warm or cold.