Summer is the perfect time for picking the juiciest, freshest fruits available. From strawberries and blueberries to peaches and raspberries, there's a wide variety of delicious options for you to pick and enjoy.
The abundance of juicy fruits during this season can be overwhelming, making it difficult to know which ones are at their peak.
Here's our ultimate guide to picking fruit, also the best u-pick farms and orchards near New York City, offering fresh fruits and vegetables for your enjoyment.
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Why Picking Fresh Fruits Matters
There are several reasons why picking the freshest fruits is essential. First and foremost, fresh fruits have a better taste and texture, making them more enjoyable to eat.
Additionally, fresher fruits tend to have higher nutritional value, providing more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial to our health. Lastly, choosing fresh fruits reduces food waste by avoiding fruits that spoil quickly.
Understanding Fruit Ripeness and Quality
Knowing the signs of ripeness and quality can help you pick the freshest fruits. Consider these factors when selecting your summer fruits:
Look for vibrant colors and avoid fruits with bruises, blemishes, or mold. Ripe fruit should have a consistent color and be free from any irregularities.
A ripe fruit usually has a pleasant and aromatic smell. If a fruit has no aroma or an off smell, it may not be ripe or fresh.
Gently press the fruit with your fingers. Ripe fruit should yield slightly under pressure but not be mushy or overly firm.
Tips for Picking Fruits
When heading out to pick fruits, it's best to dress in old clothing that won't mind getting dirty. Comfortable shoes, a hat for sun protection, and gloves to avoid scratches from branches are also recommended.
Plan Your Trip
Before heading out to the farm, check their website or call ahead to confirm that they are open and have fruit available for u-pick. Some farms may have limited hours or availability due to weather or crop conditions.
Learn Proper Fruit Picking Technique
Each fruit has its unique way of being picked, so it's essential to learn the proper technique to avoid damaging the fruit or plants.
For example, strawberries should be picked with their caps intact, while blueberries should be gently rolled between your thumb and fingers to avoid crushing them.
Preserve Your Harvest
If you plan to freeze, can, or make preserves with your freshly picked fruit, it's essential to process them as soon as possible to maintain their quality and flavor.
This may include washing, cutting, and storing the fruits in an airtight container or preparing them for canning or preserving.
Seasonal Guide to Picking Fruits
Here's a quick growing season guide to help you know when to go pick your own fruits visiting u-pick farms:
- Strawberry: Mid-June to early July
- Cherry: Early June to mid-June
- Blueberry: Early July to late August
- Raspberry: July to September
- Peach: July to late August
- Apricot: Mid-June to early July
- Nectarine: July to August
- Plum: July to August
- Pear: Late August to September
Tips for Fruit Picking
Here are some tips for a successful fruit-picking experience:
- Check the farm's website or social media pages to see what fruits are available for u-pick and when they're in season.
- Dress in old clothing and comfortable shoes, as fruit picking can be messy and involve a lot of walking.
- Bring sunscreen, water, and snacks for your trip.
- Only pick fruits that are ripe for the picking. If a fruit is not ripe, it won't taste as good and won't preserve as well.
- If you plan to freeze your fruits, pick them at the peak of ripeness.
- Be respectful of the farm and its rules. Don't pick fruits that are not designated for u-pick, and don't waste fruits by picking more than you can use or preserve.
The Best U-Pick Farms Near New York City
Located in Chester, New Jersey, Alstede Farms offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for u-pick throughout the season. The farm is open every day, providing plenty of opportunities to pick your favorite fruits.
Best fruit picking from mid-June to August, you'll find strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, and cherries ripe for the picking. The fruit farm also offers pony rides, a farm store, and delicious baked goods, making it a perfect destination for a family day out.
Hudson Valley Orchards
Hudson Valley is home to numerous u-pick farms, offering different varieties of fruits during the summer season. Early summer brings strawberries, cherries, and raspberries, while July and August are perfect for blueberry, peach, and blackberry picking.
In addition to the fruits, the orchards in Hudson Valley also offer stunning views and lovely picnic spots.
Farms Near NYC
Just a short drive from New York City, there are numerous farms and orchards offering fruit picking near NYC.
Early June marks the start of the strawberry season, followed by cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and peaches as the summer progresses.
Most of these farms also offer pick-your-own vegetables, fresh produce, and baked goods to satisfy all your cravings.
Storing Fresh Summer Fruits
Proper storage is crucial to maintaining the freshness of your summer fruits. Here are some storage tips for room temperature and refrigeration:
Fruits like bananas, melons, and pineapples should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Keep them in a cool, dry place, and avoid stacking them on top of each other to prevent bruising.
Most berries, stone fruits, and tropical fruits can be stored in the refrigerator. Keep them in a crisper drawer or a ventilated container to maintain freshness. Be sure to eat them within a few days to enjoy their best taste and texture.
Considerations Picking Fruit
Here are a few more tips to help you choose the freshest and most delicious summer fruits:
Visit Local Farmers' Markets and Orchards
Local farmers' markets and orchards often offer freshly picked, high-quality fruits. By purchasing from these sources, you support local agriculture and ensure that you're getting the freshest produce possible.
Choose Organic When Possible
Organic fruits are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which can be better for your health and the environment.
Although organic fruits can be more expensive, they're often considered to be of higher quality and may taste better.
Try New and Unusual Fruits
Summer is an excellent time to expand your fruit palate and try new and unusual varieties.
Look for exotic fruits like lychee, passion fruit, or dragon fruit, and sample lesser-known varieties of common fruits like heirloom tomatoes or unique melon types.
Learn the Seasonality of Your Favorite Fruits
Knowing the peak season for your favorite fruits can help you choose the freshest produce available.
For instance, strawberries are at their best in early summer, while peaches and plums are usually ripest in late summer.
Buy In Small Quantities
Purchasing smaller quantities of fruits ensures that you consume them while they're still fresh. Buying too much at once can lead to spoilage and waste.