My first experience with apple picking was back in Russia. I must have been 8 or 10 years old. What I remember, is climbing trees and picking up apples, loading them into hand-sewn sacks and dragging them back on the train to Moscow. I don't remember apple pies or apple sauce ~ I'm pretty sure I didn't discover either one of these until I moved to the United States. The traditional use for apples was apple cake, apple compote, and my favorite - marinated apples.
Apple picking, to me, is associated with fall, celebrating the bounty of the season, and connecting to the source of where our food comes from. This year, I joined JConnect for apple picking at Piper's Orchard, inside Carkeek Park. This orchard is over 200 years old and has multiple apple, pear, cherry, plum and quince trees. There are also walnuts and chestnuts grown on the orchard. The original plan was to harvest apples to donate to City Fruit, but unfortunately the apples and pears weren't ripe enough, so we ended up keeping the apples for ourselves. Most of the apples we picked, weren't traditionally beautiful or perfect - but they were crisp, slightly sour, and perfect for the Apple Challah Rolls.