Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more…
To Autumn. John Keats
It’s national poetry day and nothing sums up the season like Keats’ ode to Autumn. And it’s easy to see what got him so excited about the season, the low light at this time of year makes the apples on the trees look even more inviting. But if you’ve got an apple tree you’ll probably have more apples than you know what to do with right away. There’s only so many apple pies you can eat at one time, so it makes sense to store as many as you can for later. Stored properly some apples can keep right through the winter months.
– Only ever pick on a dry day.
And only pick fruit that is in perfect condition.
– Take care when picking.
Handle with kid gloves as any bruises can turn to rot. Apples are ready when they come away from the tree easily. Cup an apple in your palm lift and twist. Keep the stalk intact if possible.
– Choose a low temperature.
A well ventilated room is perfect and with a slight moisture content
so cellars and garages can be good.
– Store different varieties separately.
They’ll ripen at different rates (it helps to label your boxes).
Mid season apples should last 6-8 weeks
Lates won’t taste great until stored for at least a month and can last several months
‘One bad apple spoils the bunch’
– Let the air circulate.
Apples are best stored in a single layer not touching one another. This stops disease and rot spreading. Aim for good air movement around your apples. You could use fruit trays from a grocer simply sit on a shelf slightly apart or use wooden slatted palettes. If you don’t have much room, try storing in a box or tray, wrap the apples individually in newspaper. And if you haven’t a suitable room, stack your boxes outside on the northern side of a building, cover with straw or paper insulation then a waterproof sheet (I would also use a fine chicken wire to prevent rats). The only problem with wrapping apples individually is that it makes it hard to check them regularly for shrivelling and rot.
– Don’t keep your fruit near anything that will taint the taste.
Avoid paint, fertilizer or other food items (like onions and garlic).
– Check them regularly.
Discard immediately any fruit that has spoiled. Once ripe bring your fruit in to use, otherwise they’ll speed up the ripening of the other fruit around them.
You can also stew cooking apples with sugar and freeze in bags for adding to crumbles, Eve’s puddings and Frech Gallette tarts later. But more of that in my next apple instalment…