How And When To Pick And Store Apples

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This article provides helpful tips and instructions for how and when to store apples and pears
by Brett · All Zones · Food Gardens · 0 Comments · October 17, 2013 · 3,180 views

Harvesting apples at the right time is the first step toward ensuring high quality fruit that tastes great and stores well. If picked prematurely, apples are likely to be sour, tough, small and poorly colored; if picked overripe, they may develop internal breakdown and store poorly.

When To Harvest

Ever heard of the term "ground color"? If not, this is very important to know when harvesting apples. Ground color is the color of an apple's skin, disregarding any areas that have become red. In red-fruited cultivars, observe the portion of the apple that faces the interior of the tree. When the ground color of red cultivars changes from green to yellowish green or creamy, the apples are ready to harvest. In yellow cultivars, the ground color becomes golden. Mature apples with a yellowish-green background color are suitable for storage.

Most apple cultivars have brown seeds when ready for harvest. However, seeds may become brown several weeks before it's really time to pick them. So, seed color shouldn't be used as the only method to determine whether fruit is ready to be picked.

Early maturing varieties such as Honeycrisp, Paula Red, Gala, and Jonagold that will be eaten immediately may be ripened on the tree.

Storing Apples

Apples that are to be stored should be picked when mature - when thay are showing the mature skin color but with a hard flesh. Don't remove the stems from fresh-picked apples as this will create an opening for rot fungi. Only store apples that don't have bruises, insect or disease damage, cracks, splits, or other injuries. Any damaged fruits should be used for fresh eating, or processed.

Because of their sugar content, many apple varieties can be stored at 30-32 degrees F without freezing the tissue. In order to extend the storage period, try to keep them as close to 32 degrees F. When stored at this temperature, apples may last for up to 6 months. Late maturing varieties are the best for long-term storage. Apples can be stored in baskets or boxes lined with plastic or foil to help retain moisture. Varieties that tend to shrivel can be stored in plastic bags that have several holes for gas exchange.

When storing apples, try to avoid bruising them. When damaged, ethylene gas from the damaged apple is given off more rapidly and will cause other apples in the same container to ripen more rapidly.

Apples often pass their odor or flavor to more delicately flavored produce. Also, the ethylene given off by apples can accelerate ripening in other fruits, and even bulbs. When possible, store apples away from other fruits and vegetables and away from tulips, daffodils and other bulbs.


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