If you’re lucky enough to have your own apple trees, autumn is a busy time of year. Delicious crisp, juicy apples are just waiting to be picked and eaten now or made into tasty pies and desserts. Here’s how to make the most of your apple harvest.
When are apples ready to harvest?
If you know what variety your apple tree is, in other words, whether it’s a Granny Smith, a Golden Delicious or some other named type, you can look it up and find out roughly when it is supposed to be ripe. Remember though that local weather and microclimates will affect how fast fruit ripens in different areas. If you’re unsure, try to pick one or two apples. If they come away easily in your hand, then they’re ripe. And if windfalls are dropping from the trees, then it’s definitely time to start picking.
How to harvest apples
To pick an apple, cup it in the palm of your hand, lift and twist gently. The fruit should come away quickly – if not, leave it for a few more days. Even on a single tree, apples will ripen at different times. Apples exposed to more sunlight will ripen faster, so those at the top of the tree, and on the sun-facing side, will be ready first. Keep picking as the fruit ripens. Use a ladder to reach the higher fruits.
If you’re picking apples for storing, take great care not to bruise them, as one bruised apple can spoil a whole batch. If you’re planning on using them straight after picking, however, the odd bruise here or there won’t matter.
How to store apples
The best apples for storing are the mid- and late-season varieties like Braeburn, Bramley’s Seedling, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Early-season varieties like Discovery and Ellison’s Orange don’t store well, so use these soon after picking.
To store apples, wrap each apple in tissue paper or newspaper and place them in low-sided boxes or trays so that air can circulate. You can also store apples unwrapped, but if you do this, it’s vital to ensure that they don’t touch each other.
Store your apples somewhere cool, dark and well ventilated. Apples give off ethylene gas, which encourages fruit to ripen and then spoil, so adequate ventilation is essential to stop this gas building up.
Check stored apples regularly and remove any spoiled fruit.
Store different varieties separately, so that you can use up the ones with shorter storage life first.
We have a great range of apple and other fruit trees in our centre, and autumn is the ideal time for tree planting. Visit us soon to choose the perfect fruit tree for your garden.