The rainy weather has meant a very good season of apples. Shield Orchard offers a variety of apples with the Jonathons, Cox, Bramley finishing up soon, sweet Julie, Granny Smiths starting, Firmgold, Splendor and Braeburn ripening and will be ready for picking soon.
Jonathon apples originated from the United States and are medium-sized, sweet but slightly tart apples with tough skin. They're great for eating fresh and cooking.
If you haven't heard of the Julie, you must try this sweet apple with unique flavours of strawberry, pear, nashi and pineapple discovered by chance seedling. I can't get enough of this delicious apple.
The orchard sprawls over six hectares, mainly growing apples, some stone fruit, grapes, figs, thornless blackberries and potatoes.
As it's the start of the season, there are plenty of apples to pick. There will also be an offer to pick your own Williams, Packham or Buerre Bosc pears too.
I could easily spend the whole afternoon discovering this delightful orchard. It is recommended to ring ahead and meet with Bill and Julie to get a rundown on what apples are ripe for the picking. The kids love picking and eating their fill with all the different apple varieties.
Farmer Bill Shield loves to impart his wealth of knowledge especially when the kids ask questions galore. Finding out about the number of bees in existence, why it's important to a have flowering plants all the time as these provide a food source for bees who in turn pollinate the flowers so we get to pick apples each year was truly fascinating.
With caution signs in place, there are only a few simple rules to follow. Watch where you are walking due to uneven surfaces, supervise the kids when picking (for an apple to land on one's head isn't pleasant), pay for what you pick and use the rubbish bins provided to keep the farm clean.
Buckets in hand, we strolled along to the witches hat and turned left to see more rows of apple trees. It doesn't take long before the kids are crawling under the nets plucking apples and taste testing along the way.
We also harvested our dutch cream, congo potatoes that we had planted late last year, can you believe 9 small potatoes turned into 5kg. We have been adventurous with eating baked potatoes, potato salad, mash potato, I think potato soup is next on the menu.
You can taste the fruit as you go and pay for what you pick. We somehow managed to pick 10kg in total of a variety of Bosc, Packham and William pears, Julie, Jonathon and Granny smith apples. It's been busy in the kitchen department as we've tried red wine poached pears, apple pie and I'm planning to make apple chutney to accompany all the ham at Christmas this year.
I'm looking forward to making another great batch of apple jam which went down a treat for Christmas presents last year. Also on offer at the shed are shelves of preserves, apple cider, apple vinegar, apple juice and apple sauces. There are picnic tables available and toilet facilities.
Hill Billy Cider has moved down the road. They have great pizzas and a full range of drinks which include Crushed Pear, Scrumpy, Apple, Non-alcoholic Apple (which the kids absolutely love) and Vintage – from 100 per cent crushed fruit, with no added sugar or artificial flavours. Don't forget to try the award-winning Hillbilly Cider's Sweet Julie made from the fruit from Shields orchard.
Don't forget to ring ahead to let Bill and Julie know that you'll be coming. Pick Your Own is available between 10 am & 3 pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday & but close early on Monday at 2pm.
In regards to COVID requirements, Shield Orchard have a QR code for the Service NSW app or provide written contact details. There numerous handwashing and hand sanitising stations available. Boxes are supplied but it would assist to bring your own buckets to pick into.
Entry is free with parking available at the front of the shed.
There is ample signage leading up to Shields Orchard but if you are driving from Sydney, the orchard is located on your right, so give plenty of warning to the cars behind when your turn right into the car park in front of the shed.