In elementary school, I always looked forward to “library day.” Checking out books was a treat for me, but I also loved the visits that included short movies. One of my favorites was about Johnny Appleseed. The animated short about this legendary nurseryman made an impression on me. Children still learn about Johnny Appleseed, aka John Chapman, today.
This time of year, as garden harvests wind down, orchards are busy picking fruit before it falls to the ground. There are recipes for apple sauce, apple cider, apple butter, apple cake and, of course, apple pie being dusted off in Missouri kitchens and referenced for fall treats and future stores; however, like my mother, I usually keep it simple. Apples usually end up in a bowl of caramel dip or wrapped in caramel and dipped in our favorite toppings at our house.
Apple harvest is a progression in Missouri. Some varieties ripen earlier than others, and orchards across the state often grow a variety, which lengthens the harvest season for their farms and for consumers. According to MU Extension, Jonathan apples have been grown in Missouri for more than 150 years. The most widely grown variety in the state, the Jonathan matures in early September, but Golden Delicious should be ready to pick.
While they’re not a major crop for the state, apples comprised 1,100 acres in Missouri, with an economic value of more than $12.4 million in 2015, according to the USDA. Apples for commercial production are primarily grown in counties along the Missouri River; however, smaller orchards dot Missouri’s countryside.
Many orchards also provide consumers with a u-pick farm experience. It’s an opportunity my mother took advantage of when I was little. It likely added to my interest in the story of Mr. Chapman, though he did not get as far west as Missouri in his planting travels.
If you’ve been busy, it’s not too late. Apples are still being picked in Missouri. Check out the searchable Missouri Farm Bureau agritourism directory at www.mofb.org/MarketingCommodities/Agritourism.aspx, where you’ll find apple orchards and more to enjoy during harvest in Missouri.