Forget the grocery shelves this fall and get your apples fresh from the tree.

It’s the busiest time of the year for orchards. Bryan Etchen, owner of Iowa Orchards says they’ll make 80 percent of their yearly income in a four-week period even though they are open year-round. It makes the fall the most important season for him.

“We do 15,000 pies a year, 20,000 or 30,000 gallons of cider a year,” said Etchen.

Deanna Black, at Center Grove Orchard had some advice on how to pick the best apples.

“You know when the apple is ready off the tree when you should be able to twist it and pull it right off. That will be when it’s ready,” said Black.

More On This...

And what can you make from the apples and other produce you can find at an orchard? Trickier recipes like cider donuts might be tough for new bakers. But pies, caramel dipped apples, and pumpkin rolls are easy enough.

Recipe: Cranberry Apple Pie

“Applesauce is really the easiest. All you have to do is take your own variety of apples and throw them in a pot, throw in apple cider or water and bake it,” said Black.

Black said that picking your own apples is best because that way you know exactly where it’s coming from.

“Picking them off the tree is so much nicer than those apples that have been shipped from another country. They’ve been in crates, planes, trucks, semis. Here they’re fresh off the tree,” said Black.

Nicole Nechanicky, the bakery manager at Center Grove Orchard, said that families like getting their produce from an orchard because it’s an experience. They can pick apples from the trees or find the perfect pumpkin from the patch. They then take the food home and get creative with cooking it.

Recipe: Center Grove Orchard Pumpkin Roll

One more tip for bakers, both Etchen and Black said that in many recipes, using a variety of apples gives the best flavor. They both said Jonathan apples are popular, but also to consider using other types.

Not only are these treats delicious but they’re fairly easy to make. This fall see what you can whip up when you pick your own.

More delicious fall recipes

Recipe: Apple Pancakes

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup with Cheese