Maturity at picking vs. storage life

marknmtSeptember 24, 2013

Our Liberty apples are getting there, with some of them dropping, but they don't seem to be fully mature yet. We're waffling: whether to pick them now, since a few have dropped and have fully-browned seeds, or waiting a week and giving them a little more time to develop character and flavor.

Liberties just don't keep very well, but if the stars align you can actually get a very good apple in April- last year I was surprised to eat one that had escaped the usual spoilage and/or shrivelling. I have no idea if it was picked earlier or later, but it made me think.

Can anyone advise me as to whether a fruit that is picked on the early side stores better? And if so, what helps it develop quality as it ages?

Thanks much,


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I was just trying to figure that out today. My Liberty apples just don't seem to be finishing ripening.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:14PM
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alan haigh

Most apples store better if picked before fully ripe. There is usually a certain amount of starch to sugar conversion. Liberty would seem the type of apple to be this way. I know that Jonagold is.

My storage Jonagolds are a different apple even out of storage than tree-ripe ones are off the tree. A bit more tart and not as full flavored but still a very good apple.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 8:51PM
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Wondering about our unknown old apples - a red striped one. DH "picked" them by shaking the tree, I separated out the ones that were cut/bruised and made apple butter ASAP, took biggest ones and put in 2 half bushels, and put the rest in 2 bushel baskets in dehumidified basement (so each basket about half full), but I'm finding rotting spots now a few weeks later.

Did he bruise all of these even though I didn't see bruise/soft spot immediately? Were they all ripe (1 I tasted didn't seem as ripe as a drop I picked up just this week - the tree still has some fruit at the top)? Or did he shake unripe fruit off? And finally, will this damage the tree/cause it not to bear as heavily next year.

I was always taught to gently twist an apple off, but the tree is so tall he couldn't reach with ladder, I thought he would pick what he could reach but he just decided it was faster to shake each branch he could reach.

I know we need to prune all our trees to manageable height.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 9:44AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

The problem is, usually basements are too warm, especially this time of year, and you have taken all of the moisture out of the room with the dehumidifier.

Consider a chest freezer with a digital temperature controller. With manual defrost, humidity stays near 100% and the temperature near 34, apples keep to their longest potential.

My chest freezer:

Thats a 7 cu. ft. GE manual defrost chest freezer.
It can hold between 3 and 4 bushels of apples.
I stack the baskets using 1x4s.

I've kept Golden Russets for 5+ months.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:07AM
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Apples aren't shriveled - I do have a chest freezer but it's full of meat, veggies, and berries :-)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:33AM
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To keep apples from shriveling, I put them into jumbo ziplocks, labeled with the date of picking. First in, last out.

I'm sure the apples were bruised from hitting the ground. They won't fall off if not ripe, but when ripe they'll bruise more easily.

Some things you've got to do it yourself.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Yeah, but he's about 6" taller than me and can handle the ladder. Next time I'll have him set up the ladder while I climb and pick.

Now, which to make first - apple butter/sauce or tomatoes? Plus I want to get the slow cooker going for Italian beef, and I have to go for a new driver's license...

So much to do, so little time!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Can you set the freezer so it doesn't freeze? Why a freezer and not a fridge? Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:37PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


Yes, its set to 34 degrees with a digital temperature controller, you can see the probe wire in the original picture. It comes on at 35 and turns off at 33.

I use this:

Its prewired, and ready to use, you just select the length of power cord you need. Make sure its on an outlet that is not GFCI.

The entire cold storage project with the controller cost me around $300.

Chest freezers are cheaper than refrigerators and do not defrost themselves. Defrost removes moisture, you need moisture to store fruit longest.


This post was edited by megamav on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 13:37

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 1:35PM
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alan haigh

Some apples keep best a bit below freezing.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 5:36PM
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Get a fruit picker, which is a little basket that you put on the end of a long pole. I use a lightweight aluminum pole from a swimming pool cleaning tool. With it, I can reach the top of even tall pear trees. It takes a lot longer than shaking the tree, but the fruit doesn't get all bruised. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:23PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

If you're going to get a pole picker, consider the Twister Fruit PIcker.

It helps to preserve the fruit and the fruit spurs on the tree.
I have one, and its great on a telescoping painters pole.
A more civilized way to pick.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:39PM
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I like that design, megamav!

I don't use the pole picker baskets for apples, which should be picked by lifting up, not pulling down. It can break off the spurs. That tongs design looks like it can do it right.

Basket type works fine on plums.

I want one with closer-spaced prongs for cherries.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:50PM
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Thanks megamav - that looks great. My cousin offered a pole picker today but I think we're just about done - probably couldn't reach the few apples that are left at the top of the tree now, even standing in the bed of the pickup or on a ladder. I'll borrow hers or buy the tongs for next year though.

She gave me some Red Delicious she said should have been left on the tree longer - just 4, 1 of each of us to try. I don't normally like RD and she didn't say if these were new sport. I know there is n heirloom Golden that tastes good - is there a Red? Or are these likely the same as are commercially available nowadays?

She also gave me some Bosc pears but unfortunately most of them were rotting in her garage. I sorted through some to find 4, took the bad ones for the chickens, she's going to have the neighbor go through and take what she wants and then maybe there will still be some good ones to make pear butter.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 4:17PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


It comes with adapters that snap into the middle of the loops to pick fruit like small Apples, Peaches, Cherries and Plums.

Amazon listing has those details and a picture.
Great invention.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Gotta get me one of those!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 7:32PM
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