The Ultimate Guide to Apple Picking

The crunch of fallen leaves, muted blooms of mums, and flickering lights of carved jack-o-lanterns are all autumn mainstays. The abundance of apples is also another welcome sign of fall. Although apples are available year-round, most of the apple crop matures during late summer and early fall. That’s when you’ll find a wider range of varieties to choose from at the grocery store, as well as pick-your-own orchards that offer the ability to sample (and take home) as many fresh apples as you like.

Although there are about 7,500 of varieties of apples, most pick-your-own orchards have a smaller sampling that they grow. We’ve narrowed down some of the most popular choices plus key characteristics, how flavors differ, and which apple types work best in baked goods or just for plain snacking. You’ll also find helpful ways to get the most out of your experience when you visit an orchard. Now for the hard part: which apple to eat first?

Guide to Picking Apples - A Little Bit Of Apple History

Urban Orchard: How to Pick the Best Apples at the Grocery Store

There’s nothing more disappointing than opening up a bag of apples to find bruised, battered, and soft fruit. Avoid that dismay and look for these characteristics for the perfect apple every time.

  • Firm
  • Fragrant
  • Bruise- and nick-free

Guide to Picking Apples - Some Popular Apples and Their Origins and Qualities

Step Outside: How to Pick the Best Apples at the Orchard

Most pick-your-own orchards have some variation of the same routine: apples are available pre-picked, or you can pick your own, mixing and matching various types and perhaps trying something new. Although some of the same guidelines apply for choosing apples at the orchard as they do at the store, here are a few more tips that can help you bring home the best fruit possible.

  • Choose fruit that’s firm and free of nicks and bruises.
  • Colors vary on apple types and may not indicate ripeness. The orchard operator should be able to tell you which apples are at their peak.
  • The apples nearest the outside of the tree are the ones that ripen first. If a variety is at peak ripening time, start there for the best ready-to-eat apples.
  • Picked apples do not ripen more once they are removed from the branch.
  • To pick an apple off the tree perfectly, rotate the fruit upwards and twist. Don’t pull down or straight, and never shake branches.

Guide to Picking Apples - How to Pick an Apple Properly

Quick Tip: In general, the firmer the apple, the more starch, and the better the fruit will hold up when cooked.

Take Care of Your Haul: How to Store Fresh Apples

For a day or two, fresh apples may be left on the counter at room temperature. But if you have more apples than you’ll use in that time (or want to save them for future eating or baking) store them in the fridge. Keep apples in a separate compartment because they give off a gas that hastens the ripening of other vegetables. If you have cool basement storage, you can also store apples there but place them in a different spot than potatoes, which can cause early spoilage of apples.

Want to have a few apples for wintertime baking? Simply slice apples and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once completely frozen, place the apple slices in a freezer-safe plastic container or freezer bag.

Should You Really Eat an Apple a Day?

In short, it doesn’t hurt. Here are the health benefits you’ll reap by adding a fresh one to your daily meals or snacks.

Embed the article on your site