When selecting a place to go apple picking, the apples and the gorgeous fall setting are important factors, but just as important to me is the quality of the cider donuts. As for orchards that lack donuts, well, you probably won’t find me picking there. I’d had Brooksby Farm in Peabody on my list for over a year. Cider Hill is my tried and true, but I’m always curious to discover new places. Brooksby Farm is only about a half hour from the city, a good bit shorter than either Cider Hill or many of the orchards out west like Honeypot Hill in Stow, which are close to an hour away.
When my friend Katherine and I pulled up, we were could see rows of apple trees on either side of the road. We were directed to the right, past several rows of trees towards a busy parking lot and a kiosk where you purchase bags for picking. I knew that there was a farm store and assumed it was across the road. I was intent on donuts first so we headed across and down the road to the farm store (which, incidentally, you can drive to).
Sadly, we were greeted with this unsightly scene: naked donuts!!!! They looked so sad and bare. You see, a cider donut simply has to have a cinnamon-sugar coating. Absence of a cinnamon-sugar coating is a complete game-changer for me. Had I known about the naked donut situation prior to going, I would not have gone. I bought a couple anyway because I was craving any donut-type substance. The lack of coating could be excusable if the donut had a nice sweetness to it and cider flavor, but it did not. It was begging for some cinnamon-sugar.
About the apples. There were two varieties for picking that day: Macintosh and Cortland. The orchard was busy but the trees were brimming, especially if you walked just beyond the trees closest to the entrance. At $7 for a half-peck, they are reasonably priced too. If your primary goal in going to an orchard is apples, Brooksby is just fine. Maybe a little busy on a beautiful fall day, but quite pleasant. If you’re in the market for cider donuts too though, you might want to look elsewhere.