Picking, Storing & Freezing Apple Fruit
If you're planning on picking apples, check out our apple tips for choosing the best fresh apple fruit, as well as how to store apples, keep them fresh and even freeze apples. September marks the beginning of the fall apple harvest in the Okanagan Valley and continues right through to November if the weather is good.
A beautiful RV park surrounded by fruit orchards
The many apple varieties differ widely in appearance, characteristics of flesh, their availability during apple season, and their suitability for different uses.
Flavor also varies with variety, and depends on the maturity of the fruit at the time it is picked. Different types of apples can be sweet, tart, smooth and soft, or crisp and crunchy, depending on the varieties you choose. There's surely one or two apple varieties that will delight anyone's taste!
#1 Apple Tips - Picking The Right Apples
Early summer apple varieties are softer, less crisp and also less juicy than later harvested apples. These are the first apples you find at fruit stands, orchards, and farm fresh markets in the Okanagan. Summer apples are delicious to eat fresh, but don't store as well as later harvested varieties. In the Okanagan apples are available beginning in July, usually, with summer varieties including Transparents, Sunrise Apple, Summer Reds, Ginger Gold, Sinta Apple, Royal Gala, and McIntosh Apples. Check here for harvest schedules.
Fall apple varieties include Honeycrisp, Empire, Golden Delicious Apples, Ambrosia, Spartan apples, Mitsu, Jonagold, Ida Red apples, Fuji and Granny Smith apples! Some of the most flavorful fall apples are Honey Crisp and Fuji apple varieties. Later season apples tend to be more flavorful, juicier and crisper, and have a longer shelf life, when stored properly.
How do know apples are mature and ready to pick?
- To have a good flavor, texture, and storing ability, apples must be mature when picked. Immature apples usually lack color and flavor, and the skin looks wrinkled after being kept in storage.
- The general time for harvest of apples is based on the maturity of the fruit. Wherever you pick apple fruit, the orchardist will let you know which variety is ready for picking.
- Look for firm, crisp, well-colored apples that are free of blemishes and bruises.
- To tell if an apple is ripe you can listen for a dull thud when flicking near the stem of the apple. This sound indicates a nicely ripe apple, rather than the hollow sound of over ripe fruit.
Best apple tips for fall apple picking - Prepare For Cooler Weather! Fall harvest occurs during the cooler months and into late fall in the Okanagan. Be prepared for weather changes and cool temperatures. Bring along or wear layers to accommodate the weather. A good pair of shoes is also handy for climbing that orchard ladder to get to the apples higher in the tree.
Check out our page on apple fruit here.
How To Pick An Apple??
Yes, there's a technique for everything!
Pick an apple off the branch by rolling or twisting the apple away from the fruit spur (where the apple stem meets the branch).
Place apples gently into a box or bucket. Dropping or bumping apples will cause bruising and won't keep as long.
#2 Apple Tips - How To Store Apples & Keep Fruit Fresh
If you don't eat them all up first... a constant cool temperature is key to keeping apple fruit fresh for a long period of time
- Store apples at a constant temperature - refrigerator temperature is good. Apples can be stored in a perforated plastic bag or in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator, where they will keep for a few weeks. Apples, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, greens, cauliflower, and potatoes should never be stored close together. As they age, potatoes release an otherwise harmless gas that makes apples spoil faster.
- Avoid washing apples before storing them. Water absorbs through the skin of an apple and speeds up deterioration.
- Unripened apples can be left out at room temperature to ripen, but check them regularly, as apples ripen a lot more quickly at room temperature than when refrigerated.
- Boxed apples should be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won't freeze. Apples stored in clean wooden or cardboard boxes should be ventilated to allow air circulation.
- Do not store any apples with bruises or soft spots, as they speed deterioration of other apples stored with them.
- When ready to eat fresh picked apples, simply rinse with cool water. Eat larger apples first, smaller apples store better.
#3 Apple Tips - Freezing Apple Fruit
You can freeze apples that you wish to use for pies, apple sauce and other baking, and still have the delicious taste of fresh picked apples when you use them.
- Some apple varieties freeze better than others. Generally speaking, apples that work well for making pies or sauce will freeze well.
- Once frozen, apples tend to lose some texture and are not suitable for eating raw after they've been frozen, but are still excellent for baking.
- The easiest and quickest method for freezing apples is by dry packing, either with or without sugar.
- Some people use lemon juice, or other ascorbic acid to help prevent apples from turning brown with freezing. Other's say it is not needed.
- The key to successful freezing is to use airtight containers or freezer bags.
How To Freeze Apples - My Mom's Best Apple Tips!
Peel, pare, and slice apples. As you slice them, I drop them in about 1 cup of water with about one Tablespoon or so of lemon juice to keep the fruit from getting brown. Place the amount for one pie in each package, so it's ready when you want to make an apple pie.
That's it for apple tips and more apple tips :) Check out our other Okanagan fruit related pages...
Love the Okanagan? Hey, then, share the love!