6 farms for apple picking in Pittsburgh this season
Photo above by Zen Chung.
Apples are the perfect snack: sweet, crunchy and thirst-quenching all at once. And they’re a tasty ingredient for pies, muffins and quickbreads. We love that kids love apples, too, which makes apple picking in Pittsburgh and around our region that much more fun.
Pittsburgh-area farms invite families to their orchards to get a better understanding of where apples come from before they reach the neighborhood grocery store.
Apple picking is easy. Here’s the trick: Don’t pull apples straight off the tree. Instead, roll the apple upwards toward the branch and give it a little twist so that it pops off easily. If the apple doesn’t come off effortlessly, it is not ripe enough. You then place your picked apples gently in a basket or bag to prevent bruising.
Then enjoy the fruit of your labor!
Now that it’s the season for apple picking in Pittsburgh, head to these farms for your next family outing:
1. Shenot Farm
Shenot Farm’s apple orchard boasts 25 varieties growing across 15 acres. The apple selection includes specialties for baking and snacking, with the harvest running through early November. This Wexford farm has carried on through six generations since 1854. Watch the farm’s Instagram and Facebook pages for pick-your-own apple announcements on times and dates.
Stop by the market to shop for more than 60 different hybrid varieties of vegetables including sweet corn, plus 15 varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums and pears. And don’t skip a visit to the Fudge Room, where you can experience delirium from 50 flavors of small-batch fudge.
2. Simmons Farm
Apple picking is in full swing at Simmons Farm in McMurray. Fair weather hours run 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. A wide variety of apples – from Gala to Jonagold to Granny Smith — are available throughout the orchard. If your family has a favorite, you can call ahead (724-941-1490) or check the Simmons Farm website or Facebook page to confirm what’s available on a given day.
For added fun, stop by the flower fields for pick-your-own flowers and take home an extravagant bouquet. From sunflowers to wildflowers, you can pay a flat rate and kids will get a bucket and scissors to fill with as many stems as they can fit. Tentative hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays-Sundays, weather-permitting.
This is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch and make a family day trip of your farm outing. Kids will love the free petting zoo that’s open during market hours.
3. Triple B Farms
When the season arrives for apple picking in Pittsburgh, crowds arrive at Triple B Farms in Monongahela. The season begins with Ginger Gold, Gala and Honeycrisp before opening up to varietals like Fuji, Cameo and Suncrisp. Pick-your-own operates from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. Along with those crunchy apples, you can pick your own beautiful flowers — zinnias, cosmos, celosia, ageratum, rudbeckia and sunflowers — at Triple B. Check their Facebook page or call before heading out.
Pop’s FunYard reopens Labor Day weekend for a rip-roaring farm experience. Purchase wristbands ($6 for bigger kids, free for ages 2 and younger) in advance online. You’ll find hillside tunnels and tube slides named after the Liberty and Squirrel Hill tunnels. The Rompin’ Rope Maze helps burn off energy. And everyone loves the farm animals, including pygmy goats, chickens, rabbits and a potbellied pig.
4. Soergel Orchards
Soergel Orchards’ pick-your-own farm visits started about 30 years ago and have become a tradition for many Pittsburgh families. The Soergel family welcomes farm visitors to their Wexford orchard for apple picking beginning Sept. 17 and running weekends through the end of October. Visit the farm’s Facebook page for schedule updates.
Along with the fun of picking and eating the freshest fruit, kids love Soergel’s because they can explore Tiny Town and a petting zoo. A stop at Soergrel’s Scoops is a welcome endpoint to a day on the farm, with a cone of Perry’s Ice Cream in flavors like Graham Canyon or Brownie Batter. Grownups will enjoy a refreshing pint of Arsenal Hard Cider. And be sure to pick up a jug of Soergel’s freshly pressed apple cider at the market for a delicious, sweet treat to be enjoyed at home.
5. Norman’s Orchard
The Norman family started production at their farm in 1958, eventually specializing in the heirloom fruit for which Norman’s Orchard is known today. Even though this Frazier Township farm lacks kid-focused attractions, families flock to Norman’s for its unique specialty fruit that can’t be found in stores. The many unusual varieties of antique apples – more than two dozen — are available at varying times through October.
Pick-your-own apples will be available only on select Saturdays this season, due to the spring’s deep freeze, which killed about 85 percent of the apple blossoms. Call ahead at 724-224-9491 or check Norman’s Orchard’s Facebook page for availability.
Unfortunately, that icy weather was bad news for the orchard’s pears, too. The seckel, Lincoln, Anjou and Bosc pears we love were decimated by frost. But look for pick-your-own Concord grapes, a rare find in regional farms.
Note: This farm operates on a cash-only basis.
6. Half Crown Hill Orchard
This past spring’s frost damage left Half Crown Hill Orchard with a limited supply of apple varieties this season. But this McDonald farm will be open on weekends for pick-your-own apples as availability allows. The dwarf apple trees allow even little kids to reach the top fruit. Tart Pioneer Mac, Honey Crisp and Buckeye Gala are at their peak.
During your visit, try your hand at Apple Slingshot, make giant bubbles or follow clucking chickens through the orchard. Bring a basket of snacks to enjoy at the picnic tables. And look for the queen bee in the farm’s observation beehive.