Pick-Your-Own: It’s Apple Season in Connecticut! Last Updated 9/16

Did you know the very first ever apple pie recipes came from Connecticut? They can be found in the country’s first cookbook, American Cookery, published in Hartford in 1796. So it goes without saying that Connecticut is home to dozens of pick-your-own apple farms and orchards all over the state. We visited Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, where 6th generation family member Sarah Bishop DellaVentura gave us some apple picking tips and a tour of the orchards as they gear up for the fall pick-your-own apples season.

How many kinds of apples do you grow at Bishop’s?

There are 25 varieties of apples grown here. 17 varieties are available for “pick-your-own,” and we have other varieties, such as Baldwin, Honeycrisp and Zestar, which are smaller crops, so they are only offered for sale in the market.

When is the best time to pick apples in Connecticut?

We’ll have different varieties ready to pick in September and October. If you come a few times, you could see different varieties each time.

What kinds of apples are ready first?

The apples grow in waves, so that every few weeks a new variety becomes ripe enough to pick. Our first wave of pick-your-own includes favorites like Gala, McIntosh and Cortland. In a few weeks, Macoun, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Jonagold and Empire will be ready too. Later in October, you’ll find Braeburn, Ida Red, Mutsu, Stayman and Rome.

How do you know when to pick?

Every variety has an estimated time frame and window of when it should be ready.  Within that window of time, we’ll taste and examine first and then let the public know what varieties of apples are ready and in which orchard.  Flavor is the real indicator. 

How many apples can visitors pick?

As many as they can carry! Some people stock up for pies and other recipes. You pay by the pound. Just fill one (or more!) of three different sized bags, from 4 quarts to ½ a bushel. Then have it weighed at the end.

Who comes to Bishop's Orchards pick apples?

Families, groups of friends, school groups. We have a lot of generations coming together to pick apples. Grandparents with kids and grandkids sharing the experience and just really enjoying it together. And a lot of the grandparents came here when they were kids, so we love to hear their stories.

Can you store apples?

Yes, they should last in your refrigerator crisper drawer for up to three months when kept at a constant temperature of about 36 degrees

What are the best apples for pies?

A lot of people say, “my grandmother’s pie recipe says only use McIntosh” or another variety. Personally, we think the best pies come from a mix of apples. We don’t recommend McIntosh apples as they are a softer apple and tend to get mushy when baked. But other apples have a tart taste or crunchier texture that makes amazing pies. Cortland, Stayman, Jonagold and Golden Delicious are all good for baking, it just depends on the taste and flavor you want for your pies.

Do you have a good recipe for apple pie?

This is our favorite apple pie recipe. You can find others on our website too.

  • 8 apples
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoon(s) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pastry shell
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft. 

What other fall favorites can people find at the farm?

We have tractor wagon rides that take people up into the orchards, plus a corn maze, a pumpkin patch with a hay maze and donkey rides too. And we press and make our own apple cider here, making about 70,000 gallons of cider a year, throughout the season. We also sell apple cider donuts and other freshly baked fall goodies, as well as produce, our own wine and other Connecticut wines in our farm market.

Get directions to Bishop’s Orchards or find pick-your-own apples closer to home. You can also a comprehensive list of pick-your-own farms throughout Connecticut here.