Please read our COVID-19 Safety Guidelines to find out how fruit rescues will be safely managed this season.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Manitoba Fruit Share for this excellent guide on how to tell when apples are ready to harvest.
Four Factors for Harvest Ready Apples
- Separation From tree
- Pip Colour
Are your apples ready for picking?
More important than the formation and colouration of the red blush found on many apples is the base colour or “ground colour” of your apples. Watch your apples as their main background colour changes (e.g. from green to creamy yellow). Once their ground colour has changed over most of their surface they are ready to harvest. Remember the apples toward the centre of your tree and the side of the apples facing the inside of the tree will be the last to change colour.
2. Separation from Tree
Test how easily the apples come off the tree by gently holding the bottom of an apple. Lift the apple against the stem and gently twist. If the apple comes off easily, it is ripe and ready to be picked. If it requires a forceful tug, it is not quite ready to harvest.
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!
Taste several apples from different parts of your tree to determine their texture and sweetness. Apples ready for harvest are sweet and crisp. A hard, tart apple is underripe while a mealy, soft one is overripe. Of course the terms “sweet” and “tart” are relative to the variety of your apple tree.
4. Pip Colour
Cut open an apple and look at the colour of the pips (seeds). Ripe apples have brown or dark coloured pips. White pips indicate the apples need a few more days to ripen.
FUN FACT: Did you know that apples ripen from the outside of the tree to the centre of the tree?
It’s true! So be sure to check apples from different parts of your tree.
If you’re picking for yourself, pick over several weeks to enjoy apples at their finest for as long as possible. If you’re calling Operation Fruit Rescue or scheduling one giant pick, try to schedule the pick when the majority of apples are at their peak (when the ones toward the centre of the tree are turning ripe).
But don’t despair, even if you pick too early or too late, there are still a lot of options for your apples. Underripe apples are good for making juice while overripe apples are good for applesauce and baked goods.