Autumn is officially here. Traditionally this is the season of the harvest, ultimately culminating in every foodie’s favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. However leading up Thanksgiving there are plenty of opportunities for people all over the country to go out and do some of their own harvesting. They can to a pumpkin patch and get pumpkins to carve for Halloween or to make pumpkin pie. They can go to a corn field to get fresh ears of corn to eat or just to use as seasonal decorations. Probably the most versatile harvest item this time of year though is apples. For those keen to pick their own there are few places better than Burtt’s Orchard in Cabot, VT.
Tucked away on a back road in the Northeast Kingdom, Burtt’s is an idyllic location for a family to go on a crisp autumn day and collect some of the freshest apples they’ll ever find. The farm is located on Cabot Plains Road, which is a little out of the way, however it is undoubtedly worth the trip. The farmers at Burtt’s have been kind enough to put up signs along the way to help those who aren’t blessed with a GPS. It should be said it’s almost worth the trip for the views along the road alone, especially during peak foliage.
The orchards are open to the public to come and pick their own apples all through September and October. The sheer variety of apples is astounding. There are more kinds of apples in these orchards than most people are even aware exist. Macintosh, golden delicious, macoun, empire, liberty, honeycrisp and even bartlett pears are all found hanging tantalizingly from the trees. Burtt’s uses integrated pest management, which means there’s no pesticides sprayed on either the trees or the apples.
The process couldn’t be simpler, just grab a bag and start picking. The trees are all clearly labeled with what variety of apple grows on them, and are low enough to the ground and even smaller children will have no trouble reaching up and plucking the best looking treats. There doesn’t seem to be an immediately clear system in place for the order that the varieties are in. However the orchard is small enough that visitors won’t get wiped out by walking the grounds to see everything there is to see.
Once a visitor has loaded up their bag with everything they way it gets brought up to a small stand to be weighed and paid for. Except for the honeycrisp apples, everything on the trees is only $1 per pound (the honeycrisp run $1.75 per pound.) So in addition to a great time out at a wonderful location it’s also likely to save a bit of money for those with big appetites for apples. At the stand the farmers also sell their own apple cider, fresh eggs and a variety of maple products as well, just to round everything out.
The experience of picking apples at Burtt’s Orchard in many ways captures what’s great about Vermont, and the Northeast Kingdom in particular. The views of the mountains, the friendly people, even having to go out of the way to get something just a little better, all add to the experience. And in case some people had any doubts, the apples, every last variety of them, are absolutely delicious. Perfect for baking or just to eat in the car on the way back home.