We have been receiving lots of questions this week from Fruit Owners who are unsure if their apples are ripe. Our extra warm weather seems to be throwing off our typical growing season! Hopefully this post will help you to be able to tell if you should be putting in a Harvest Request soon. Because we typically only go to a homeowner’s once to pick apples, we like to pick them when the majority are ripe.
Many people assume that because apples are starting to fall, that the whole apple tree is ripe and ready for picking. That’s actually not true. Apples ripen at different stages and some apples will always fall off early in the season. That usually means some will be have dropped by the time we get to them.
Here’s some info on judging ripeness of apples, taken from Prairie Fruit Cookbook by Getty Stewart.
“Prairie apples are harvested from early August to late September. Exact harvest times are dependent on variety and growing conditions. To determine the ideal harvest time, consider:
Colour – Watch the change in colour of your apples, specifically the change in the base colour or “ground colour” of your apples (e.g. from green to creamy yellow). Once the ground colour has changed on most of the apple’s surface it’s ready to harvest. Remember the apples in the centre of your tree will be the last to change colour and not all apples will ripen at the same time.
Separation from Tree – Test how easily the apples come off the tree. Gently hold the bottom of an apple, lift it against the stem and gently twist. If it comes off easily, it is ripe and ready to be picked. If it requires a forceful tug, it is not quite ready.
Note: It is usual for some apples to drop before the majority of the tree is ready to harvest. Do not assume that a few fallen apples mean the tree is ready to harvest.
Flavour –Taste several apples from different parts of the tree to check for texture and sweetness. Apples ready for harvest are sweet and crisp. A hard, tart apple is underripe while a mealy, soft one is overripe – relative to variety, of course.
Pip Colour – Cut open an apple and look at the colour of the pips (seeds). Ripe apples have brown or dark coloured pips.”
One more thing to consider – please try to submit your request at least a week before you think your tree needs to be picked. With the volume of fruit owners and volunteers we are now working with, it takes us about a week to process requests.