Nothing says fall quite like strolling through an orchard, feeling the crispness to the air, the sun on your face, and picking your own apples. Picking your own produce is a beautiful way to connect with the land and learn how and where your food is grown.

Here in Colorado, we are fortunate to have several pick-your-own orchards to choose from. An internet search will provide a list of options, but be sure to call ahead or visit the orchard’s website to inquire about reservations. Many orchards require reservations and time slots sell out quickly at the beginning of the season. If you aren’t able to make it to an orchard, many nurseries carry local, in-season produce.

Different types of apples ripen at different times, starting in mid-summer through late fall. In general, the late-ripening apples, which are in season now, are great long-storing apples. They can be stored for months in a very cool, dark place. If you don’t have the ideal spot to store them, or if you have some that have cuts or bruises, there are endless possibilities for preserving your harvest. They can be dried, cut up and frozen, or canned as applesauce, apple butter, or even prepared apple pie filling.

And, of course, they can be used fresh in both sweet and savory dishes. Take advantage of all that Colorado has to offer and support your local farmers by buying local. You won’t be disappointed!