Written by Jaclyn Gallucci, Jgallucci@antonnews.com Thursday, 26 September 2013 08:27
This summer’s record-breaking heat warmed backyard pools up to 90 degrees, offering little relief from temperatures that, combined with oppressive humidity, felt like they were in the hundreds. Cooler weather? Bring it on, along with the goodies, of course.
For nearly 100 years, one of the first places Long Islanders head to when the leaves change is the Jericho Cider Mill. Open from September to May, the famous roadside cider mill on Route 106 in Jericho is the quintessential autumn spot for Long Islanders looking for orchard-fresh apples close to home. From Crispin to Red Delicious, Idared to Cameo, Winesap to Macouns — just picked off the tree or candied on a stick — there is no shortage of apples to suit any palette.
And where there are apples, apple cider and apple pie are never too far behind. Freshly brewed on the premises, Jericho serves up cider, cold and hot, plus homemade pies, including their famous apple crumb varieties, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. every day. And for those of you looking to head out to some pick-your-own orchards on the weekend, here are some of the best places we know to fill your bushels with the family in tow.
The Apple Orchard
Located in Hank’s Pumpkintown, the apple orchards are a great way to start or end your day. There’s also a maze, playground and wagon rides for the whole family to enjoy. Hot and cold cider is brewed on the premises and homemade pies and donuts are made fresh. A one-peck bag of apples — about 10 pounds — is $18. 240 Montauk Hwy., Watermill. 631-726-4667. www.hankspumpkintown.com, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Open on weekends & Columbus Day beginning Sept. 14.
Davis Peach Farm
Don’t let the name fool you. While the Davis Peach Farm specializes in juicy peaches in August, come September, it’s all about the apples, which come in 10 varieties. This family-owned farm that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, is also known for their Sangria mix and fresh pies. Hulse Landing Road, Wading River. 631-929-1115. www.davispeachfarm.com, call for hours.
Fort Salonga Farm
For those with little ones who can’t reach the trees — or balance those giant apple-picking poles — the Fort Salonga Farm has mini apple trees, with low-hanging fruit. The apples are only a foot or two above the ground. While you’re there, pick up a jar of the farm’s fresh honey. 30 Meadow Glen Rd., Northport. 631-269-9666. www.fortsalongafarm.com, Saturdays, Sundays & holidays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
This four-generation family-owned farm was the first pick-your-own farm on Long Island. Covering 1100 acres, there are dozens of apple varieties to choose from. And if you don’t feel like picking, Lewin’s market carries freshly picked apples from their orchards for purchase. Sound Avenue, Baiting Hollow. 631-929-4327. www.lewinfarm.com, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
Milk Pail Farm & Orchard
For the high-brow apple eater, we dare you not to find an apple you like here. With more than 20 varieties of apples, including dwarf apple trees for the kids, the Milk Pail has it all — including their famous cider donuts they’ve been baking for more than 30 years. 1346 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill. 631-537-2565. www.milk-pail.com, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Seven Ponds Orchard
This orchard has more than a dozen varieties of dwarf apple trees for the kids. It’s also another great place to spend the day out east, with a corn maze, hay rides and freshly made snacks like popcorn, candy apples and pies. Seven Ponds Road, Water Mill. 631-726-8015, Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Wickham’s Fruit Farm
Apple picking at Wickham’s is membership only. For $20 per year, anyone can have access to orchards, among historic waterfront grounds. You can also grab pre-picked apples, homemade donuts and cheeses at their farm stand. Route 25, Cutchogue. 631-734-6441. www.wickhamsfruitfarm.com, Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Mother nature is a fickle lady, so call before you make the trip. Hours are subject to change due to weather conditions and orchards close when there is no ripe fruit for picking.