We’re going crazy for apples during National Apple Month – apple pie, applesauce, apple cider, etc. Apples are not only delicious, but they are very healthy; no wonder the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is so popular! While it’s easy to pick up a bag of apples at the grocery store, many people grow apples in their very own garden. In this article, we will provide tips on harvesting and preserving apples.
Benefits of Apples
Medical News Today coined apples as the #1 healthiest food. Not surprisingly, apples are consumed all over the world for this very reason. Apples contain antioxidants, which fight free radicals responsible for many diseases and the aging process. Free radicals are created by the air we breath, the sun’s UV rays and the foods we consume; antioxidants target and eliminate these free radicals, helping us stay healthier and look younger.
A recent study found that apples reduced LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and increased HDL cholesterol (the good kind) in elderly women. While another study reported that apples were able to lower the risk of stroke by more than 50 percent.
Best Health Magazine cited that apples are believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, diabetes as well as various types of cancers. Other benefits include whiter teeth, weight loss, liver detoxification, and help with diarrhea or constipation.
The Right Time to Harvest Apples
The time to pick apples depends on their variety as well as the weather during the growing season. A warmer and sunnier spring will usually cause the fruits to start growing earlier, which will lead to an earlier maturation time. Generally, the following apple varieties are ready to be picked sometime in October:
- Golden Delicious
- Ida Red
- Northern Spy
- Stayman Winesap
How to Tell if Apples are Mature
Don’t just go by the projected maturation date, check to make sure that the apples are mature. If picked too early, the fruit will be sour and will not taste good. If you harvest too late, the fruit will be too soft and may start to fall off the tree. Perfectly mature apples are firm, crisp and juicy; however, color is not always an indicator that apples are ready to be harvested. Certain varieties of red apples develop their color way before they are ready to be picked.
Gently take off the apple from the tree without ripping off the stem. Examine the apples and discard any that are diseased, rotten or are eroded by insects. Any apples that are on the softer side or have damage can still be eaten as long as the damaged part gets removed. Consume the bigger apples before the smaller ones as they don’t keep as long.
If you plan to eat the apples in the next week or so, you can store them in a fruit basket or in the refrigerator. Apples can be preserved for up to six months at temperatures between 30-32 ºF with a humidity of 90 to 95 percent. To help the apples stay moist, line their storage containers with plastic or foil. To increase their shelf life, do a thorough check for any bad apples, as they can spoil the entire batch. It is beneficial to store apples away from other produce as the ethylene gas they emit will cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen faster.
Consider freezing your apples to make apple pie or applesauce at a later time. Not all varieties are suitable for this, but Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Jonathan and Granny Smith are.
To freeze apples, wash and peel them, remove their core and slice them. To keep apples from browning, mix ½ teaspoon of Vitamin C in a quart of cold water and soak the apples in the solution. After draining the water, arrange the apples on a cookie sheet put them in the freezer; once frozen, you can freeze them in freezer bags or containers.
Using PlantCatalyst® for Growing Apples
While some apple varieties are ready to be picked in October, others can be planted in the fall, as long as the ground is workable and you don’t live in hardiness zones 5 and other areas with colder falls and winters. For fall planting, good varieties are Cortland, UtraMac and Starkspur.
Help your apple trees grow fruit earlier and more plentiful by adding PlantCatalyst® to your gardening routine. This agricultural product increases yield and overall production as well as germination rates and strength of germination. But don’t take our word for it, review studies done on this patented formula, and how it has helped professional gardeners and growers worldwide.
Made with all natural ingredients, this product contains nothing harmful to your apple trees, and, as an added bonus, a small amount can help you reduce your fertilizer use by half or more! Not only does this result in money saving, but you will also do your part to help the planet by reducing fertilizer runoff, which harms our environment.
What is your favorite apple recipe? Share with us on our social media pages.