All About Apples

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Virginia Apples

All About Apples

By: Brent and Becky

Apple Picking
Storage and Eating Apples
Best Varieties for Virginia

Nothing quite captures fall like the perfectly ripe crispness of an apple. That freshly-picked flavor that fills you with juicy sweetness is unlike any other and autumn is when their season shines. For the best apples throughout the season, there are a few things you’ll want to know to get the most out of your harvest.

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Apple Picking

To ensure you’re picking the most deliciously ripe apples possible, you’ll want to follow these guidelines:

Leave them as long as possible. Like a fine wine, apples get better with time. As they ripen, they sweeten, so you’ll want to leave them on the tree as long as possible for the best flavor, but don’t forget to grab them before they fall to the ground.

Pick from the outside moving inward. Fruit that is exposed to more sunlight will ripen faster, so they will be ready much more quickly than the fruit sheltered closer to the tree. Given more sunlight throughout the day, South and West-facing sides will ripen even faster.

Look for consistent color. When it comes to fruit, consistent color is typically key when determining how ripe it is. Watch for when the immature green fades to a uniform, glossy shade - yellow or red, dependant on variety - and pick.

Ripe apples should pick easily. When an apple is ripe, a tree will usually drop it, so if you go to pick one, it should easily fall into your hand with a gentle twist. If you have to tug or shake the fruit, it is not ready.

Remember, not all apples ripen at the same time. Like the flowers in our gardens, blooming at different intervals, apples each have their own time and place in the season and should be picked accordingly.

Storage and Eating Apples

Apples that are best enjoyed fresh, not cooked, like Honeycrisps, are meant for quick consumption, rather than storage. To get the best flavor from our eating apples, try to enjoy them shortly after picking, whether you prefer them on their own or cut into a salad.

Cooking apples, like Granny Smiths, on the other hand, tend to keep much better when stored. The trick to having them last the longest is to separate blemished apples out of the mix. These pockmarked apples will rot more quickly and will risk ruining your whole harvest, so cook those ones up as soon as possible.

As a general rule, you can expect your early-season apples to spoil much faster than mid or late-season apples. To get the most from your early-seasons, enjoy them quickly. Mid-season apples will store slightly longer, typically for a week or two, and late-season apples will store even longer.

To keep your apples longer than a couple of weeks, you’ll want to wash and dry them shortly after picking. Once clean, wrap them in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator or, at the very least, in a cool, dry place.

The number one reason why apples rot more quickly than they should is ethylene gas. This gas helps them to ripen but, given too much of it, can also cause them to rot. To prevent them from suffocating in this gas, make sure they are in a well-ventilated area, away from any potatoes, onions, or garlic. This is the same gas given off by flower bulbs, which is why mesh bags and cool, dry areas with good ventilation are the best way to store your bulbs, as well!

Viriginia apple orchard and Virginia Apples in a basket

Best Varieties for Virginia

With apples available from July right up until November, Virginia certainly has its fair share of the harvest. In fact, on average, our state will produce anywhere from 5-6 million bushels per year. Here are the best varieties to look out for:

For a light, crisp flavor to enjoy fresh from the tree, look no further than bright and juicy Red Delicious. This mid-season apple sports a radiant red exterior and an all-American upbringing. It is refreshingly juicy, with a mild sweetness that tastes great in any salad.

Gala Apples are early-season fruits that are best enjoyed fresh. They produce pleasantly sweet flavor encased in an orange and yellow-streaked skin that is delightful for both the eyes and the tastebuds.

If you’re looking for a late-season apple with a long shelf life to add to your cooking for months to come, you’ll love the Fuji variety. The impossibly juicy, crisp flesh of this fruit adds exciting and sweet flavor to all your apple recipes that you won’t be able to get enough of.

For an apple that keeps well and tastes amazing both fresh and cooked, look for the delicious York variety. This late-season apple is full of flavor that is sharply sweet, with a hint of honey. It is an all-around winner in flavor and is perfect for simple snacking, baking, cooking, or even adding to your very own cider.

Given how many varieties there are, it can feel overwhelming to know what to do with your apples when the time comes. With these basic guidelines for apples, though, you can be sure to make the most of your favorite fruit each and every season.

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