I’m not a nostalgic person. I don’t long for days past, but choose instead to look forward. When asked recently by a friend if I’d ever like to repeat high school or college, my answer was most definitely, undeniably, no. I’m not a particularly patriotic person either. I couldn’t care less about who signed the Declaration or even what July 4th signifies for most Americans. The stories of Native Americans and the Colonial period bore me. But there is one American tradition that I uphold year after year with a certain wistfulness for the past, and that is the simple act of picking apples and eating those Apple Cider Doughnuts from Outhouse Orchards.
The Outhouse Orchard is more than a century old and rests at the top of a street aptly named Hardscrabble Road. It is owned by Wayne S. Outhouse (which explains the unfortunate name), and has been voted onto “Westchester’s Best” list of things to do in Westchester County. The main attraction is the Orchard house, a most quaint, ramshackle building. The house is surrounded by plants and other miscellaneous goodies for sale, a barbeque pit, an old-fashioned cotton candy vendor, and roosters underfoot.
Behind the house, there is a small pond with swans and goats, an abandoned tractor, and in the fall, a vast pumpkin patch, with every shape and size pumpkin imaginable. Invariably in the fall months, there is a long line of people that winds out of the house and into the dirt road in front of it. This is the line to doughnut heaven, or really, a line to a window, from which tireless, flour-and-sugar coated teenage employees will sell you piping hot, fried doughy goodness, in three flavors: powdered sugar, regular sugar, and cinnamon sugar.
If you prefer to listen to this post instead of reading through – click the video below:
The first stop when arriving at the Orchard must be the doughnut window. Once a few doughnuts are consumed and washed down with warm apple cider, the browsing can begin. Inside the Orchard, the house has other goods, which are almost as delicious as the doughnuts. There are cartons of fresh apple cider and cans of preserves and jams. Towards the back of the house, there is an open kitchen, where one can watch the staff bake apple pies, strawberry pies, cakes, cookies, and of course, doughnuts. There are rows and rows of candy and fudge, piles of corn, baskets of apples, stands, and stands of fruits and vegetables. Recently, they have even started selling decorations for Halloween.
The next stop (after another doughnut break), is outside to the pumpkin patch. You can purchase pumpkins in the tents set up for this purpose, or take a hayride (literally, in a cart of hay, pulled by a tractor) to another pumpkin patch where you can actually pick your pumpkins.
As a child, my parents used to bundle me and my brother up in boots and warm sweaters (this was before the real effects of global warming when October was actually a cold month) and drive us up to the Orchard, and I have gone every year since. The Orchard House is open almost all year round. They continue to sell various foodstuffs and decorations during the Christmas holiday season; it is worth the trip no matter what time of year. The Orchard is a charming family place where children can frolic and adults can get some fresh air and admire the countryside.
How to get to the Outhouse Orchard from NYC:
Take Metro North Railroad from Grand Central to Croton Falls station stop. Cabs generally wait at the station, so take one to the Orchards just three miles down the road. (Outhouse Orchards, 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY, 914.277.3188. Open daily, April through December)
Header photo by Bob Jagendorf
good pictures are essential to these blog posts. the delicious descriptions of this cool little orchard really made my stomach grumble, but once i saw that incredible picture of those dough nuts stacked up i actually said…. “i want that”….
As a Croton Falls native and former classmate of Wayne Outhouse, I found the story and photos a ‘trip back home’ through the internet. I’m happy to see my old school chum being so successful and enlarging the scope of the orchard started so long ago by his forefathers. The sign “OUTHOUSE ORCHARDS” hanging in the sales floor was from many years ago and really reminded me of my family’s trips for apples over 45 years ago. New Yorker’s don’t miss this one, you will not be disappointed!
My daughter and I had the unfortunate experience of visiting Outhouse Orchards this past Friday, October 12th. I find the above review to be a bit of a hype. We found the place to be dirty with the poor rabbits crammed into tiny cages with no bedding and full of feces. The advertised “pond” is a mud hole. I was left with the feeling that all this was was a money maker with little regard to ambience and cleanliness. Considering the conditions, I wouldn’t dream of purchasing anything edible there. You can skip Outhouse on your autumn jaunts.
As an aside, we stopped at Salingers Orchard where we made all our purchases. While definitely on a smaller scale, I have always found it to be well tended and clean.
am looking forward for direction how can I get to your place from white plains to your destination
I was planning on going to Outhouse Orchards next Saturday October 25 2008 with my family and friends but Joanne’s post has me thinking twice.Is there any other visitors out there that can give me a positve feed about this farm?
I am seaching for some idea to write in my blog… somehow come to your blog. best of luck. Eugene
I went to the Outhouse Orchards on October 11, 2008 with my 4 month old. The Orchard House seems to be the biggest attraction, it seemed like there were hundreds of people packed in at once…. bringing a stroller turned out to be an awful idea. The upside is you can buy almost any variety of apple, pre-picked.. fresh pies are about $15. The pulled pork sandwiches were very good. I’ve heard that the doughnuts are out of this world! I think its a good outing to do, but it is not worth travelling too far out of your way to get there.
Overall i think that Bernadette Mignone should think twice about what she says. if you think about it the fall time is the biggest and the bussiest time for the orchard. peeople scramming to get their jobs done when the big weekedns come up. dont forget that during the week there are thousands of little kids running around during the school tours making it even more challenging for workers. the rabbits cages get cleaned all the time so maybe you just came on a bad day.
To the poster who thought Outhouse was dirty or unpleasant — you’re just plain wrong. It may be revealing that that same poster happens to recommend a lesser competitor.
I’ve taken my family to Outhouse many times over the years, and have always enjoyed it. It is sort-of a working farm, so the animals are sort of smelly, the goats do pee right on the ground, etc.
But the ambiance is jovial, the food is in fact wonderful, the apples are great — you cannot go wrong with Outhouse Orchards. Especially if you get some of the donuts.
I love going to outhouse, everything there is good, the food is great. The only thing i can do without that is there every year is that God Awful band.
Outhouse Orchards has apparently seen better days. This place is now about what you’d expect from its name. The parking is run by bored teen-agers; there is poison ivy growing rampant throughout the orchards: up trees, in the grass, everywhere you look. From the appearance of the rotted apples under the trees, no staff has taken care of the grounds in months. Bees and wasps abound. More bored teen agers roam the area on ATV’s, creating a number of nightmare scenarios given all the kids running around. A sign on the way into the orchard says “PICK AT YOUR OWN RISK,” presumably in order to discourage lawsuits. The trees themselves are very old, and produce lousy apples. There is no indication of what kinds of apples grow where. The shops and other “amenities” are poorly staffed, dirty, and disorganized. The place sells pumpkins, too, but they’re way overpriced. With an abundance of great orchards in the state and area, it’s a mystery that Outhouse Orchards is still in business.
apple lover 2010, clearly you are no apple or nature lover –
you obviously have no idea of weather and what nature has done this year. If you did your research you will realize that apple bloom was 5 weeks early this year, there was 3 months of no rain, probably went through the 2nd hottest summer ever, apples fall on the ground when they get ripe, and with this hot weather apples tend to break down more, poison ivy is in all orchards and if you actually looked around instead of complaining you would realize that the poison ivy has been sprayed and killed. As far as the trees being “too small” thats the style the orchard likes to keep probably due to the severe deer pressure in Westchester County. You will go to any place and see “bored teenagers”. From the sound of things you should just buy your apples in the grocery store. If the government took care of the farms maybe there would be other farms for you to go to. There are no farms left and thats why so many people come to Outhouse Orchards, you sound like the type of person who moves next to a pig farm and complains about the smell and wants to pig farm out. It’s time to get a life.
The best time to go is in the fall just before the weather gets too cold. The apples will be big, ripe, and you won’t have to deal with so many bugs.
First, I’d like to say that I’m very pleased that sites like this encourage car-less travel and suggest new places for NYC dwellers to get our doses of nature.
Having said that, based on this site’s recommendation, I went to Outhouse Orchards with my husband and our 5-year-old daughter. We’ve been to a few other orchards, in upstate New York and in New Jersey, and always had a great, relaxing experience, so were happily anticipating the same at Outhouse.
Unfortunately, our experience at Outhouse was far from ideal. It was extremely crowded. There were several families to each tree practically, and young kids throwing apples, and yelling and screaming. It was a free-for-all. There were no labels, so you had to guess at the variety you were picking, nor did the front staff seem to have any interest in providing information in that regard. The trees were very, very tall – unlike other orchards I’ve been to, where for the most part you can just pick apples without any special equipment. The staff at the front where we paid neglected to tell us that you needed tall poles with buckets on the end to pick the apples. We had to discover for ourselves, after hiking about 1/4 mile uphill to the orchard, that these poles were necessary, and had to hike back to the front desk. They were out of poles, but fortunately some kind souls gave their to me as they were leaving the orchard.
We felt rushed and crowded, working as quickly as possible to pick our apples. There were tons of rotting and new apples on the ground, which were a bit of a hazard because they had become a slippery, mushy mess, not to mention trying to dodge apples falling from the top branches. The apples themselves were mangy, and had black spots on them. At other orchards, you can pick what you want and just pay for what you have. At Outhouse, you are required to take a 25 pound bag and pay $25 even if you pick less than 25 pounds.
The bathrooms, probably because they were so heavily used and there weren’t enough for the amount of visitors, were filthy, even for port-a-potty standards. After apple picking we were not even in the mood to try for the donuts – and would have had to wait in a line that snaked around the building if we had wanted to. The line appeared not to have shrunk at all the entire time we were there.
The overall impression that we left with was that we were just cogs in a money-making machine. Unfortunately, there was no evidence to suggest that the owners cared about environmental stewardship or had any pride in their farm. Again, this is a completely different experience and any I’ve had previously. My husband and I went to pick apples last year in New Jersey – yes, it was crowded, but somehow much cleaner and better organized.
Whether or not you take the train, getting to Outhouse Orchards is a long haul. We won’t be back, and recommend trying any of the other much higher quality experiences available in upstate New York.
Last Monday, I decided to break the habit of spending my day on the couch binge watching Breaking Bad and instead went apple picking with the family (me, husband and furry baby). I googled beforehand and asked around to know exactly where to go, but at the end what counted was finding a place that allowed dogs. I felt weird spending a day outside without Lola, the poor thing already spends enough time inside as it is!