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There are several indicators that apples are ripe and ready for picking: color, flavor and texture, ease of separation, and fruit dropping. Apples harvested too soon tend to be starchy, and have poor flavor. Pick them too late and they become soft, mealy, and bland.
Color: The color of both the skin and the flesh is a useful indication of maturity. Depending on the variety, the outer skin of an apple may turn yellow, red, or green when it reaches maturity. The inner flesh will typically change from having a greenish tint to white.
Flavor and Texture: Although certain varieties continue to sweeten while in storage, most apples are considered ready to harvest when they "taste ripe." Usually this translates into a slightly soft flesh that tastes sweet and juicy. Once your apples start to turn color, pick one every few days to test the flavor.
Ease of Separation: Using a gentle twisting motion, mature apples usually separate easily from the tree.
Fruit Dropping: When you start to see a few healthy apples fall from the tree, check the remaining apples. They are probably close to reaching maturity.
Dry, or Cool and Cloudy Weather: These types of conditions work to slow down the ripening process and can delay your "normal" harvest time by few weeks.
Apples need to be harvested and stored under the proper conditions to maximize their shelf life. Temperature, degree of ripeness when picked, handling, and relative humidity are the most critical factors in determining how long they will last. Under the right conditions, the later varieties (those typically harvested in the fall) have a longer storage life--some as long as 6 months. Summer varieties usually have a much shorter shelf life--only 1 to 3 weeks.
Avoid Spur Damage: Gently lift and twist each apple to pick it. Keep the stem attached to the fruit, but leave the spurs attached to the tree. The spurs are the stubby branches that the trees bear fruit on. Breaking or damaging them will reduce your harvest next year.
Remove Damaged Fruit: Apples that sustain cuts and bruises during harvest will spoil quickly. Sort through and remove any damaged fruit before storage. Apples that have sustained damage, but are free of insects and disease, should be eaten or processed immediately.
Store Immediately After Harvest: Apples should be stored immediately after being picked. To keep them firm and crisp, the air temperature needs to be kept cold (32 F to 40 F) and the relative humidity high (80%-90%).
Unfortunately, this is difficult to do at home. Suitable home storage options include Styrofoam coolers, an old refrigerator, an unheated garage or basement, shed, or ideally, a root cellar. To keep them from dehydrating, store small quantities of apples in unsealed or perforated plastic bags near an open pan of water. Large quantities can be kept in well-ventilated wooden or cardboard boxes lined with plastic to help maintain humidity while allowing air to circulate.
Store Apples Separately: While in storage, keep apples separate from onions, potatoes, and other strong smelling produce unless you want everything to swap flavors. Apples will also make root crops like carrots taste bitter and reduce their storage life.
This is the time of year we get our apples. The Apple Harvest is a event in West Virginia that happens each year at this time. The apples we get there are not only reasonably priced, but they are delicious. When I had children at home I did a lot of different things with them. Now, I only make applesauce with them or just eat them.
To keep them so they will last, just put them in a Styrofoam chest or cardboard box (with the top on) and put in the basement or garage if you don't have a cellar. Make sure you put them in a dry spot with the temperature around 32 to 45 degrees F (not getting any colder.) They will last a long time that way and you can eat them daily. You know what they say, "An apple a day keeps the Dr. away!".
By Dorothy from New Creek, WV
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Tips for storing apples. Post your ideas.
Do NOT store apples in the same refridgerator as your carrots. The apples give off a gas that will change the flavor of your carrots. I only buy a few apples and keep them on the counter in the basket of fruit in my kitchen.
Topics: Food Tips and Info > Storage | Gardening | ThriftyFun
2002-04-26 | Post Feedback! | Send to Friend | Print Version | Send Me Responses | Related
"Health researchers have determined that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables leads to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Nutritionists at the National Cancer Institute and other health professionals recommend eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Apples are a good source of dietary fiber and contain small amounts of vitamins A and C. A medium, raw, 2 1/2-inch apple contains 75 calories.
Select apples which are firm and free of bruises decay, cuts, holes, or shriveled skin. Apples should be ripe when picked to have good flavor, texture, and storing ability.
Store apples in the refrigerator at 32-35 degrees F.
Keep apples in a perforated plastic bag.
Check fruit occasionally and discard apples that show any signs of decay.
Food Safety Tip
Washing helps remove pesticide residue which may remain on the apple. Wash under clean, cool, tap water, scrub gently with clean vegetable brush and rinse again."
Source: Ohio State University Extension