When is the time is right to pick apples? And what do you do with a glut from a generous tree? Find out how and when to harvest apples and, crucially, how to store and process them so you can enjoy delicious fruits for many months to come.
When and How to Harvest Apples
There are some clues to look out for when checking if apples are ready to harvest. The skin color will become deeper. Fruits at the sides and top of the tree will usually ripen first because they receive the most sunlight. Finding windfalls on the ground below the tree is a good sign that apples are ready to harvest. If in doubt, pick and taste one!
Never tug an apple from the tree. Instead, cup it in the palm of your hand, lift it up and twist it gently. A ripe apple will come away easily, complete with its stalk. Apples on the same tree will ripen at different rates, so harvest regularly. Handle apples carefully to avoid bruising them, and take care when using a ladder to pick apples from higher up on the tree.
Early season varieties don’t store well, so eat them as soon as possible after picking. Mid-season varieties should keep for several weeks, and late season varieties will store for up to six months. Only store apples with no bruises or blemishes.
Store apples, making sure they don’t touch, on slatted trays to allow air to circulate. You can also store them wrapped in newspaper. Keep different varieties separate, and eat those that won’t store as long first.
Store apples in a dark, well-ventilated, cool but frost-free place, such as a garage or shed. Check your stored apples regularly and remove any that show signs of damage or rotting.
Apples freeze well if stewed first. You can also cut apples into thin slices and dry them out in a dehydrator for a healthy snack. Or why not try making preserves such as jellies, jams, chutneys and sauces, or refreshing drinks such as apple juice, wine or hard cider?
If you love growing your own food, why not take a look at our online Garden Planner which is available here: https://gardenplanner.almanac.com