This post is written by Rachel Tayse Ballieul, blogger at houndsinthekitchen.com . You can follow her on Twitter @RachelTayse .

Apple orchards central Ohio

Autumn in central Ohio is synonymous with apples. Local orchards are filled with hundreds of varieties of the fruit that taste great raw or fresh, keep well, and are said to 'keep the doctor away'.

An outing to an orchard can put you in touch with nature and give you the chance to pick the freshest apples around. Lynd Fruit Farm and Legend Hills Orchard are popular pick-your-own operations. If you prefer something smaller and less crowded, try these fine orchards:

picked apples in wagon Apple Hill Orchards outside of Lexingon, Ohio is set amongst hills near the Mid Ohio Speedway. The farm offers wide, well-mowed rows of pruned trees for easy picking. They grow over twenty varieties of apples and are ready to advise you which are best for eating, baking, and canning. Apple Hill gives hayrides on the weekends, hosts a few special events, and has a small farm store with not-to-be-missed fresh doughnuts.

Lawrence Orchards , just south of Marion, grows twenty six types of apples. Children will enjoy the corn bin, pony and goats, and observation bee hive. Trees are taller and closer together than Apple Hill, but still very easy to pick from. Lawrence makes unpasteurized cider and sells seasonal produce in their small farm store. September 29 is their annual Applefest.

Branstool Orchards is the most picturesque orchard on this list. Located a few miles from the Velvet Ice Cream Ye Old Mill in Utica, Branstool is best known for their peaches. They take equally good care of their apple trees that surround a beautiful pond amongst rolling hills. Purchase your apples in their spacious farm market stocked with homemade cider, baked goods, and beverages.

variety of ohio apples

Wherever you go for apples this year, remember these pick-your-own tips:

  • Bring water for washing hands, apples, and drinking.
  • Plan for nature - each of these farms use integrated pest management systems, which means that some bees, bugs, and birds share the trees with the apples. All of these creatures will leave you alone if you don't bother them.
  • A plastic crate or large box in which to place your apples will keep them from rolling all over the trunk of your car.
  • Go on a week day for a serene experience or visit during the weekend for special events.
  • Stop in the shop before heading to the field to pick up bags, wagons, and the latest picking news.
  • Keep apples for months in your fridge by storing them damp after washing in a loosely tied plastic sack.
  • Looking for a new apple recipe? Try apple fennel slaw , apple pie jam , or apple butter.
Apple Hill Orchards 1175 Lex-Ontario Road Mansfield, OH 44903 (419) 884-1500 or Toll Free (888) APPLE50 (277-5350) Open August through Thanksgiving, 9am to 6pm Monday through Saturday and 12pm to 6pm on Sunday

Lawrence Orchards 2634 Smeltzer Rd. Marion, Ohio 43302 740-389-3019 apple@lawrenceorchards.com Open June - Christmas, 9 am - 6 pm Monday - Saturday, Closed Sundays

Branstool Orchards 5895 Johnstown Utica Road Utica, OH 43080 (740)892 3989 Open summer - late fall, 9 am - 6 pm Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm Sunday