Harvest season begins in the Altes Land region south of Hamburg every year as the summer draws to a close. Whether you prefer the red-cheeked Elstar, the bright yellow Jonagold or the sour Boskoop, you can find your fill of fresh, in-season fruit between Buxtehude and Stade during the region’s Apfeltage (lit. ‘apple days’).
Altes Land apple harvest events
The Altes Land apple orchards are at their most beautiful when the autumn sun shines and a light breeze rustles through the leaves. The best time to go apple picking at one of the fruit farms south-west of the Elbe and enjoy a few autumn rays of sunshine and fresh air is between mid-September and mid-November. Like many local strawberry farms, plenty of orchards in and around Hamburg offer baskets to visitors so they can pick apples themselves. And don’t forget to stop at a farm shop or two to find freshly pressed juice or cider from nearby cider plants.
If you would like to pick apples, plums and pears yourself, you will find a good overview here.
If you’re looking to learn more about farm life in Altes Land, the annual Farm Day (Tag des offenen Hofes) is for you. Every year several of the local farms open their doors and gates to curious visitors, allowing them a peak behind the garden fence at the many beautiful fruit farms in the Altes Land. Free fruit farm tours let visitors explore the orchards and fields and learn interesting facts about the fruit growers.
But that’s not all - there are even helicopter tours over Altes Land, the Elbe and the Haseldorfer marshland. The cost per person is around €40, with a maximum of three people per flight. The tickets are only available from Hofmosterei Holst on the day of the event.
There are also handicraft markets, an ‘apple knowledge trail’, harvest fun and lots of apple and pumpkin delicacies to sample.
If you want to cycle around the various farms on your own, you can obtain detailed information from the tourist information office located at Osterjork 10, 21635 Jork, which is a perfect spot for beginning your tour.
Hof Schuback Farm Apple and Pumpkin Festival
The Hof Schuback fruit farm opens its gates annually for a festival celebration of the autumn apple and pumpkin harvests. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. you can learn all about the intricacies of farming these delicious favourites and try plenty of apple and pumpkin products in the process. More information on the program is available at obstparadies-jork.de.
The Altes Land ‘climate apple’
Small dents and dots on apple peels don’t change the taste of the fruit, yet apples with perceived ‘imperfections’ usually don’t make it to grocery store shelves due to their appearance. Instead, the fruit is sent directly off to cider plants at lower prices. The income from selling apples for cider and juice hardly covers the production costs for the fruit growers. The Klimaapfel (lit. ‘climate apple’) initiative wants to change that by collecting second choice ‘climate apples’, which are sold at fair prices according to the motto: ‘Inner values count’. The website klima-apfel.de provides information about sales outlets across Hamburg.