Harvesting, And Storing Apples: The Complete Guide

Harvesting, And Storing Apples: The Complete Guide

Apples are beloved worldwide, whether enjoyed as a refreshing cider, a sweet addition to cakes, a crunchy topping on muesli, or savored in pure form. But how can one ensure that apples are harvested and stored correctly to maintain their quality and flavor?

Fortunately, our expert tips will guide you in selecting the optimal location, timing, and types of apples and proper storage techniques for storing apples.

Health benefits of eating Apples

Apples are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious. Here are some of the top health benefits of eating apples:

Rich in fiber: Apples are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control, while insoluble fiber promotes healthy digestion and regularity.

Packed with vitamins and minerals: Apples contain important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin K. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, strong bones, and overall health and well-being.

May help prevent chronic diseases: Apples contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that may help to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. These compounds help to protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals.

Aid in weight loss: Apples are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a great food choice for those looking to lose weight. The fiber in apples helps keep you full and satisfied, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Promote good oral health: Eating apples can help to promote good oral health. The act of chewing an apple helps to stimulate saliva production, which can help to neutralize bacteria and freshen your breath.

In conclusion, incorporating apples into your diet is a simple and effective way to reap many health benefits. So go ahead and enjoy this tasty and nutritious fruit!

Storing apples

Apple variety determines the harvest time.

When it comes to harvesting apples, the specific variety of apple being grown is a crucial factor in determining the optimal time for picking. Different varieties of apples mature at varying rates, and it’s essential to know when each one is ready for harvesting. Some apple varieties, such as Red Delicious, are usually ready for harvest in late September or early October. Others, like Braeburn, are typically harvested in late October or early November.

However, it’s not just the theoretical knowledge of the harvest time that is important; one must also rely on their senses to determine the ideal moment for picking. A ripe apple should feel firm and solid yet yield slightly under gentle pressure. It should also have a pleasant, sweet aroma, a sign of its ripeness.

In addition to using one’s senses, there are a few other tips to consider when harvesting apples. One should always use sharp pruning shears to cut the fruit from the tree, not damaging the tree or any neighboring fruit. It’s also important to handle the apples gently and avoid dropping them to prevent bruising, which can lead to spoilage.

After harvesting, apples should be stored properly to preserve their freshness and flavor. They should be placed in a cool, dark place with good ventilation to prevent moisture buildup, which can cause decay. Apples can also be stored in a refrigerator or a root cellar to extend their shelf life.

Apple variety

Apple Varieties

Apples come in various types, each with unique flavor, texture, and characteristics. Here are some of the most common apple varieties:

Granny Smith: This tart green apple is a popular cooking apple often used in pies and other baked goods.

Honeycrisp: This juicy, sweet apple has a crisp texture and is a popular snack apple.

Gala: This sweet, crisp apple is a popular snacking apple and is also good for cooking.

Red Delicious: This classic apple is known for its bright red skin and sweet flavor but has a soft texture that may not appeal to everyone.

Fuji: This sweet apple has dense flesh and is a popular snack and cooking apple.

Golden Delicious: This sweet apple has yellow-green skin and is good for snacking and cooking.

Braeburn: This tart apple has a crisp texture and is a good all-purpose apple.

Jonagold: This sweet and tart apple is a hybrid of the Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties and is good for snacking and cooking.

Pink Lady: This sweet-tart apple has a firm texture and is a popular snacking apple.

Rome: This sweet apple is a good cooking apple often used in pies and other baked goods.

These are just a few of the many apple varieties available. Each apple has unique flavor and characteristics, so try a few different types to find your favorites!

Harvesting apples

How to recognize ripe apples?

Gardeners differentiate between ripeness for picking and ripeness for consumption. These times are often the same for summer apples. In the case of winter apples such as “Jonagold” or “Golden Delicious,” on the other hand, the ripeness for picking and eating do not coincide. During this period, the trees convert starch into sugar and, at the same time, break down fruit acid.

An unmistakable sign that you can harvest your apples is when you can easily detach their stalk from the fruit tree or when the first apples are on the ground after a storm. Even when birds start pecking at the fruit, you know: now is the right time to pick your apples.

The apple also reveals whether it is ready to eat: the color of many varieties then changes from green to yellow. Winter varieties also get a slightly greasy surface and release a lot of juice when you cut them open.

When determining the best time to harvest, trust your nose and your ears: if the apple smells fruity of must on its lower side – the so-called fly – you can harvest it. In addition, the seeds are then exposed to the pulp. Shaking the apple, you can hear the seeds inside the core.

If in doubt, it is advisable to harvest apples earlier rather than later because apples are climacteric fruits, which means they continue to ripen after you have picked them. If you wait too long to pick apples, the apples may become mealy.

Tip: At the top of the tree, you can harvest the apples first on its sunny side. The fruit will take a week or two to harvest inside the crown.

Harvesting apples

Don’t pick apples when it’s raining or after a rain shower. It should be completely dry when you pick the fruit from the tree. Otherwise, it will spoil quickly. Collecting sensitive apple varieties in plastic buckets or padded hand baskets is best. You can also put stronger apple varieties in fruit boxes or wicker baskets.

It would be best to eat or process some varieties immediately after harvesting. However, other apples, such as the very aromatic “Paradise Elegance” autumn apple, can be stored well and for a long time. After harvesting at the end of September, it remains ripe for consumption from November to March when stored in a cool place.

Winter apples form a glossy, waxy layer on the surface of their fruit; This protects the apples from evaporation, and the apples stay crisp for a long time. Therefore, do not rub the layer off under any circumstances.

Harvesting apples

Using a ladder as apple harvesting helper

An apple picker with a telescopic handle and a sturdy ladder, such as a fruit ladder, are indispensable helpers when harvesting apples. These ladders have a third foot that gives you a secure footing. So you can set up the ladder anywhere without it wobbling. However, before you climb up, check how solid the ladder is. Also, wear sturdy shoes when climbing the ladder. A good tread prevents you from slipping off the rungs of the ladder.

You can also pick apples from the ground with an apple picker. This tool has a crenelated plastic crown that makes picking the apples off the branch easy. The cloth bag attached to the crown catches the fruit and prevents it from falling to the ground. Make sure to empty the bag after each apple to avoid bruising.

Storing Apples

Summer apples cannot be stored because their skin is too thin. That’s why it’s best to process them directly. You can eat autumn apples like James Grieve immediately, bake a delicious cake with them, or store them until Christmas. Winter apples, on the other hand, only taste good from December because they have to ripen later.

Before storing, you should sort out the fruit with bruises and scratches because they rot quickly. Even if apples have wormholes, apple scabs, or rot, you should process the usable bits of the fruit immediately.

Also, let your harvest sit outside and cool overnight before storing. Then pack the apples in a single layer, stem down, in flat boxes. These go on a cellar shelf or another cool place at 3 °C to a maximum of 6 °C. You should ventilate the storage room regularly and ensure high air humidity. It is also ideal for wiping the shelves with a cloth and storing them; apples will still taste good in March.

Apples should generally be stored separately from other fruits and vegetables. As apples continue to ripen, they give off the ripening gas ethylene; This also accelerates the ripening of other fruits and shortens their shelf life. You should also check stored apples for rotten spots once a week.

Apple processing

Apple processing is an important part of the agricultural industry. Apples are a popular fruit consumed worldwide, and they are used to make a wide variety of products, from apple juice and cider to applesauce and apple pie.

The process of apple processing typically starts with harvesting the apples from the trees; This can be done by hand or with the help of machines, depending on the size of the orchard and the type of apple being grown. Once the apples have been harvested, you must sort them to remove any damaged or rotten fruit.

For applesauce or apple pie;

After sorting, the apples are washed to remove any dirt or debris on the fruit’s surface; This is an important step in the process, as it helps to ensure that the final product is clean and free from contaminants.

Once the apples have been washed, you can peel and core them, depending on the product. For example, if the apples are used to make applesauce, they must be peeled and cored before being cooked and mashed into a smooth paste.

For apple juice and cider

Once the apples have been washed, sorted, and possibly cored, they are crushed to extract the juice; This can be done using various methods, including a hydraulic press or a centrifugal juicer.

After the juice has been extracted, it is pasteurized to kill any bacteria or other microorganisms that may be present. Pasteurization involves heating the juice to a specific temperature for a set amount of time before quickly cooling it down; This helps preserve the flavor and quality of the juice while ensuring that it is safe to drink.

Once the juice has been pasteurized, it should be bottled or packaged in various ways. Some companies choose to sell their juice fresh. In contrast, others may concentrate the sap and reconstitute it by adding water.

If the juice is used to make cider, it would be fermented to give it an alcoholic kick; This typically involves adding yeast to the liquid and allowing it to ferment for several days to several weeks. The resulting cider can have an alcohol content anywhere from 3% to 8% or more, depending on the fermentation process.

Apple storage diseases

One of the diseases that develop when apples are stored is pitting. Unlike scab, this is not a fungal disease but a metabolic disorder caused by calcium deficiency. It particularly affects fruits that have grown on very acidic soil. You can recognize the speckle by the brown spots forming under the skin. They cause the pulp to become bitter over time.

On the other hand, glassiness is a disease in which the flesh under the skin becomes watery and transparent. When apples are stored in winter, their flesh becomes translucent and brown. To avoid glassiness and flesh browning, you can choose varieties that are less susceptible to these storage diseases – such as the varieties “Freiherr from Pink Lady,” “Jonathan,” or “Idared.”


In conclusion, harvesting, storing, and processing apples is a complex process that requires careful attention to detail and the implementation of best practices to ensure the highest quality end product. Harvesting apples at the right time and handling them with care is critical to maintaining the flavor and nutritional value of the fruit.

Storing the apples in optimal conditions, such as a cool and humid environment, can help to extend their shelf life and preserve their quality. Finally, processing apples into juice or cider involves multiple steps, including washing, sorting, crushing, and pasteurization. It requires careful monitoring to ensure safety and quality. Following the tips and best practices outlined in this guide, growers, processors, and consumers can enjoy the many benefits of fresh, high-quality apples.


Should apples be refrigerated?

Harvesting apples

Yes, refrigeration helps to keep apples fresh for a longer period, making it a recommended method for storage.

How to store apples long term?

Storing apples

To store apples long-term, choose a cool, dark, humid storage area like a root cellar or a cool basement.

Sort the apples by variety and store them in single layers in a sturdy, ventilated container or crate to prevent bruising and allow air circulation.

How to store apples in fridge?

To store apples in the fridge, first, choose firm, ripe apples without any bruises or soft spots. Rinse the apples in cold water and dry them thoroughly with a clean towel. Then, please place them in a plastic bag with a few small holes for ventilation to prevent moisture buildup.
 Alternatively, you can use a plastic container with a lid with ventilation holes. Finally, store the apples in the fridge’s crisper drawer, away from other fruits and vegetables that emit ethylene gas, which can cause apples to ripen too quickly.

How long can you store apples?

The length of time apples can be stored on the variety and storage conditions, but they can generally be kept for several weeks to several months in a cool, dry place like a refrigerator or root cellar. Avoid storing them with ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables.

How to make apples last longer?

To make apples last longer, store them in the fridge or a cool, dark place with high humidity, away from other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas.

Avoid storing them in plastic bags without ventilation. Additionally, sort and remove any damaged or spoiled apples to prevent spoilage from spreading to the rest of the batch.

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