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Mar 22, 2007 08:46 AM

Courious about apple harvest / winter freshness

A friend of mine hates eating apples this time of year because she claims that they are stored from last year. I think she's being a bit extreme, but it made me wonder just when those apples I'm still buying at the famer's market (in NYC) have been picked. Does anyone know just how far into the cold season that an apple tree can produce fruit? I guess some varieties are better keepers than others?
And then there are spring apples too... does anyone know what or when that is?

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  1. Can't answer your question exactly, but the previous year's apples were available well into May/June from one stand at my local organic farmer's market last spring . Here in Ontario I don't think we harvest much past October. These apples tasted just fine, in fact preferable to some imports. In my regular grocery I can still buy some local varieties from last fall right now, these are also fine (not great but I prefer to buy local).

    1 Reply
    1. re: julesrules

      Poking around a bit more, I see that the local McIntosh variety which I can still buy now is also an earlier variety (early September around here). I'm not convinced they are the best for storing, they are soft and bruise easy. The unknown variety I could get at the farmer's market were less bruised. They might be chosen for storage because they're popular. I love a good, fresh Mc but even in season it's tough to get good ones.

    2. I'm generally clueless when it comes to know what's in season, and I found this resource the other day- it has seasonal produce by (some) states. Might be helpful to you!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Katie Nell

        Yes, some varieties are better keepers than others, but for the most part, a properly controlled cold storage will keep an apple fresh, as it stops any further ripening of the fruit. Once it gets out of that cold storage, quality will begin to decline. The apples you're getting at the farmers market, assuming they are kept in proper cold storage, will likely be fresher tasting than those at the supermarket, if only because of reduced handling and the less time it takes them to go from cold storage to your table.

        In the northeast, all apples are picked by November. They can keep just fine properly stored into the spring.

      2. The ones you're buying now are probably either picked and stored or brought in from another country. When it gets cold, apples drop. Here in NoVa, early October is probably the latest you can pick apples. Apples last if they're kept at the correct temperature. I've never heard of spring apples.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowser

          Here in the hudson valley apples start to ripen in August and as the season progresses new varieties are available. Fuji & Northern Spy are examples of apples with excellent keeping qualities. Today as in traditional societies apples are kept in a cold dark place over the winter and can be available until early spring. These apples were picked at the latest in October, and while not as delicious as a fresh picked apple - if stored correctly can be superior to the apples flown in from New Zealand and other places.

        2. As they're pulled them out of cold storage at this time of year, and we buy them and take them home, it seems to me our crisp, plump apples are rotted in a matter of days. They also seem mealy as the year wears on.

          As a kid I remember our family buying a bushel or two of Jonathans and Macs and maybe Goldens and just leaving the bushels downstairs in an a cool, damp, unheated, stone basement of an old farmhouse. In very early spring or late winter those remaining would start browning and rotting, but until then they just shrunk and wrinkled gradually developing a mellow flavour and soft texture. Do any of you recall something like that?

          It seems to me that controlled storage is doing us no favours.