Last year was the first time that we had explored the idea of picking apples at Castle Farm which is just down the road from us in Shoreham. We loved it, so this year we decided to go again and stock up on deliciously fresh, local apples perfect for cooking or just eating on their own.
Apple Picking at Castle Farm opened on Saturday 1st September and is open every Friday, Saturday & Sunday (weather permitting), from 10am – 5pm, until early October. Castle Farm has a couple of apple varieties available in their pick your own orchard including Norfolk Royal and Cox apples.
Norfolk Royals are the reason I go apple picking at Castle Farm, the only commercial grower of this rare and beautiful variety in the world (!) which is lovely and sweet which is why I love them. The apple is a distinctive bright red and develops a natural waxy skin as it matures. It is best eaten straight from the tree but can also be cooked with a consistency similar to Bramleys but much sweeter. You are unlikely to find Norfolk Royals in the supermarket as they bruise easily and do not cope with a lot of handling.
In alternating rows, you will find the Norfolk Royal amongst traditional Cox apples which are small and flavoursome, ideal for lunchboxes or afternoon snacks. You will also find local Bramleys, pears, corn on the cob and the Kent Cobnuts which you can purchase at the orchard.
Picking the apples was as much fun as I remember it being from last year; simply take a bag with you and fill it up with a combination of varieties from the trees, dodging the ones that have fallen to the ground. Be sure to inspect each apple for any blemishes, bruises or signs of bugs before gently twisting them off of the branch. Tugging can damage the trees so be careful!
The price this year was £2 per kg and I came away with more than 6kg of Norfolk Royals which I prefer over the Cox.
If you’d rather enjoy your apples in juice form then Castle Farm sells bottles of their locally pressed apple juice which combines the Norfolk Royals with Kentish Bramleys to make a full and fresh tasting juice with a balance of sweet and tart flavours, best served chilled.
Apple picking makes a fun day out for all the family, I recommend it wholeheartedly!
Have you been apple picking this year? Tell me about your experiences below.