Aah, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree groaning with fruit like this one, then you’ll want to make the most of this seasonal abundance.
In this video, we’ll show you when and how to pick apples and the best ways of storing and preserving them.
You’ve been waiting all season and finally the moment of truth has arrived – sweet and crunchy apples ready for picking!
But how do you know they are ready to harvest?
Well, nature offers us some clues.
Apples are ready when the skin color deepens.
Fruits at the sides and top of the tree usually ripen first because they receive more sunlight.
Ripe fruit should easily come away from the tree, while the presence of windfalls is a sure sign that you can start harvesting.
If in doubt, a simple taste test should confirm whether your apples are fit to pick!
The best way to pick an apple is to cup it in the palm of your hand, lift it up, then give it a gentle twist until it comes away.
Each apple should detach complete with its stalk.
Always handle apples carefully to avoid bruising the delicate flesh, and never tug an apple from a tree or you could damage the fruiting spurs or cause apples nearby to drop.
Take care when picking apples from higher up.
Use a stepladder, and avoid over-reaching or you could lose your balance.
Remember, not all apples are ready at the same time, so pick regularly as individual clusters ripen.
Only store mid- or late-season apples.
Early-season varieties don’t keep, and are best eaten soon after picking.
Mid-season varieties should keep for a few weeks, while late-season varieties will stay in good condition for anywhere up to 6 months.
Apples destined for storage must be perfect, with no bruises or blemishes that could provide entry points for rot.
Store apples on slatted trays that allow air to circulate, making sure they’re not touching.
You can also wrap up individual fruits in paper so you can store them closer.
Newspaper or tissue paper is fine for this purpose.
Different varieties store for different lengths of time, so keep them separate and eat those that won’t store as long first.
The ideal store is somewhere dark, well-ventilated, and cool but frost-free.
Most garages and sheds are ideal, while basements and attics should be avoided due to either excessive heat, lack of ventilation or low humidity.
Check stored apples regularly, and remove any that are going soft, brown or rotting.
If you’ve got too many apples to store – well, lucky you!
You might like to consider processing your glut into store-cupboard delicacies and homemade drinks .
You can also freeze apples by stewing washed chunks with a dash of water until they are soft.
Once ready, pack the stewed apples into containers, leaving a small space at the top as it will expand slightly when it freezes, and pop into the freezer.
The apple chunks may be used in apple pies, crumbles or strudel.
Or why not cut your fruits into thin slices, then dry them out in a dehydrator to make a deliciously chewy and healthy snack?
Other ideas for excess apples include preserves such as jellies, jams, chutneys and sauces, or why not try your hand at making a refreshing apple juice, country wine or alcoholic cider?
The apple really is an incredibly generous tree.
We’d love to hear your ideas for storing apples, or perhaps you’ve got a favorite apple-based recipe that you’d like to share?
If so, then drop us a comment below.
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