Pick your own farms are a popular way to find and purchase fresh fruit, while spending time with family or friends. Strawberry picking has already become an annual favorite. Apple picking is a particularly popular fall activity. I went apple picking for the first time last year. The experience was fun, but it left me wondering can you save money apple picking?
The short answer is yes! Today I’m going to share further detail about how you can save money apple picking and exactly how much it costs to pick your own apples. For many people, food is one of the largest expenses in their budget. More so, natural, healthy whole foods sometimes tend to be more expensive than processed foods.
Save Money Apple Picking
Where We Went Apple Picking
We went to Miller’s Apple Hill in Amherst, Ohio to pick apples. Apple picking season typically runs from late August until early November, depending on your location, the orchard and the type of apples grown.
Different apples are ready to be picked at different times. We went apple picking in late September and a dozen varieties of apples were available.
The process was simple. Customers purchased bags based on volume. A half bushel of apples cost $20 or a quarter peck cost $5. The quarter peck size bag looked perfect for children old enough to understand how apple picking works and carry their own bag.
Payment was easy and credit card was accepted with no additional fees added on by the orchard. Staff directed us where to enter the orchard and handed us a slip of paper containing information on what varieties of apples were available and in what row of the orchard that variety was located.
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How Many Apples Are in a Half Bushel?
Not having done this before, we opted to purchase one half bushel and we filled the bag to the brim. It wasn’t until arriving home that I counted and weighed the apples and found we had picked a total of 44 apples!
At $20 for the bag, that meant each apple cost 45-cents. We have returned to this same orchard to pick apples each year.
The price per bushel has gone up each year which isn’t too shocking considering the economy is doing well right now. In 2019, we paid $22 per half-bushel. A quarter peck was also available for $5.
How Much Did the Apples Cost Per Pound?
The half bushel bag weighed in at 24 pounds so that meant our apples cost 83-cents per pound. (The weight of the bag was right on par as I had read prior to going apple picking that a full bushel of fruit typically weighs 48 pounds.)
I think more, or fewer, apples could have fit in the bag – depending on the size of the apples selected. The apples we picked were large.
We took our time and selected apples that were not only large but also contained few to no blemishes. In total, the picking process took under 30 minutes.
Was Money Saved Apple Picking?
The United States Department of Agriculture has the price of apples today at $1.62 per pound, as of 2016, their most recent data available. A simple comparison shows that yes we did save money apple picking.
In fact, at 83-cents per pound, according to Statistica.com (a statistics company), these apples cost the same price per pound as store-purchased apples would have cost more than 20 years ago back in 1995!
This data is based on the Red Delicious apple, which was one of the varieties available at the orchard.
Based on the most recent USDA price, by picking your own apples you can save roughly 79-cents per pound. In total, with our 24-pound bag we saved $18.96 over the national average retail price.
In addition to saving money, I think the apples we picked were probably a little healthier than store-bought apples. Not only were they large but there was little wax on them and they were local and fresh. I did not ask the orchard if the apples were grown organically, but this is something I would like to research further.
How to Use and Store Apples
Once home, I washed and dried all of the apples by hand. If you want to make sure the apples are very clean you might wash them with a fruit wash. I then sorted the apples according to variety.
Apples with no blemishes were stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer for immediate eating. Apples with some blemishes and were used the next day when I made homemade applesauce.
In total I canned six pints of homemade applesauce. I used the 16-oz. Regular Mouth Ball Mason Jars. Many people will use hand-picked apples for baked goods such as homemade apple pie or apple cobbler.
Save Money Apple Picking
In summary, if you want to save money apple picking, consider the following tips:
Call ahead and ask how how much the apples cost. You can save money apple picking by selecting an orchard with a lower cost per bushel, or per peck, of apples. This information may also be available online.
When I looked for orchards to pick apples at, some of the orchards also charged an admission fee. Miller’s Apple Hill did not charge a fee. Select an orchard without a fee, in order to save money apple picking.
Select an apple orchard near where you live. By doing this you will spend less money on gasoline, if you drive a vehicle. Unfortunately, most apple orchards are 30 to 40 minutes from where we live. The orchard in Amherst was a 40-minute drive. However, I still believe we were able to save money apple picking.
Pick faster to save time on apple picking. Time is money so the less time spent picking apples mean you will save money apple picking. One of the main conveniences of grocery stores is they offer fresh produce quickly and conveniently. When you pick your own apples you do spend time selecting fruit. Factor in that time to determine if you can save money apple picking.
It may be difficult to eat all of the apples you picked because it’s such a large quantity of apples at one time. If any of the apples spoil or go uneaten, you can lose money. Instead of the refrigerator you can store fresh produce in cardboard boxes lined with newspaper or in a fruit storage container. The fruit should be kept in a cool, dry place and checked frequently for spoilage.
Home canning is another great way to preserve the harvest so that it can be stored and consumed later. Properly canned and stored foods can easily be stored for six months. Learn more about the basics of home canning by reading my home canning post.
Overall picking apples was a great experience and I do think you can save money apple picking by following these tips and suggestions. However, no matter how much money you save, you cannot put a price on the experience of picking your own apples.
I already believe we have a new annual fall family tradition in the works. In fact, we ate the fresh apples so quickly that I wished we had picked a full bushel!
Have you ever gone apple picking? How did you like it?
*This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.