“We’re just going to bring home a dozen, right?” My husband asked quizzically, almost skeptically, as we made our way down the Autobahn to a pick-your-own apple orchard not far from where we live. He knows me so well.

“Right,” I agreed, but only halfheartedly.

A few hours later…

I grinned sheepishly at him over our wheelbarrow full of beautiful, shiny red fruit as we loaded our bounty into an extra-large crate.

I just couldn’t help myself. Picking East Texas blackberries with my family is one of my favorite childhood memories, and plucking apples with our boys had me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Nostalgia made me do it.

Despite having broken my promise to come home with no more than a dozen apples, we didn’t let anything go to waste. We ate slices for snacks, baked pies, made homemade apple sauce, and gave away bags full to friends and co-workers… and I can’t wait to go back for another huge pile this year!

Appel Happel

Appel Happel is a family-owned farm roughly 10 minutes from Wiesbaden, 20 minutes from Frankfurt and less than an hour’s drive from the Kaiserslautern Military Community. It’s open all year, offering seasonal fruit for picking and homemade goods for purchase in their farm store each month. From mid-August through October, visitors are encouraged to pick from a selection of 15 apple varieties growing in the orchards. On Sundays in September, cake and coffee is offered, along with fun and games for the little ones.

Classes and homeschool groups can sign up for private educational tours, and it’s possible to reserve the facility as an out-of-the-ordinary venue for children’s birthday parties.

For current opening times, visit http://www.appel-happel.de.

Apfelfest

Every fall, Appel Happel rings in the harvest season with its highly anticipated apple festival. This year’s event, Mainzer Apfelfest, will be held Saturday, September 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 24 starting at 11:30 a.m. When the little ones get tired of picking, there will be pony rides, bounce houses, and play stations to capture their interest, along with plenty of delicious sweet and savory treats to choose from.

We attended last year’s Apfelfest with a few of our good friends, and it’s still one of our favorite memories of our time spent in Germany.

The boys enjoyed picking (and tasting) to their little hearts’ content.

When they got tired from all of that stomping up and down the rows of trees, they hitched a ride in the wheelbarrow.

Afterward, we wet our whistles with pints of amazingly flavorful freshly-squeezed apple juice.

It’s definitely a must-try; good to the last drop.

Tips for your visit

  • Wear comfortable boots or walking shoes you don’t mind getting a bit dirty.
  • Dress in layers. This time of year, a random cloud or rain shower or can lower the temperature significantly.
  • Free parking is available a short walk from the main entrance to the farm.
  • Bring plenty of euros for food, drinks and fresh fruit.
  • You’re able to taste the apple varieties before you pick so you know what you’re getting.
  • Wheelbarrows and crates are available for free at the orchard entrance.
  • Once you’ve picked your fill, you’ll pay for your apples by weight.
  • Before you head home, be sure to stop by the farm store, where you can purchase bottles of freshly-squeezed apple juice, apple wine, apple cider vinegar, jellies and marmalade, vegetables, free-range eggs, homemade sausage, honey, gift baskets and more.

In addition to Apfelfest, Appel Happel has several fun celebrations planned each year, including night-picking and open house events. I recommend following them on Facebook to stay up-to-date with what’s going on at the farm all year long.

Have you ever been apple-picking? What are some of your family’s favorite fall traditions?