How to pick and store your apples

_dsc1293-apples-at-dunkery-beaconApples are one of the oldest fruits known to man, and still the most widely grown and savoured of all fruit.

But which apples you grow and how you store them can greatly affect your long-term enjoyment of the crop.

The earliest varieties will be ready for picking and eating in August, while some of those that mature from October onwards will keep until the following spring if picked and handled with care.

Pick apples for storing when they are fully grown, but before they are completely ripe.

To test whether an apple is ready for picking, place the palm of your hand under it, lift it gently and give it a half turn. If ready, it will part easily from the tree.

If not, try again a few days later. Take care not to bump or bruise the fruit and try to leave the stalk on the apple if it’s going into store.

Select only dry and unmarked apples for storage, and eat any damaged or over-ripe fruits straight away.

Wrap each apple in newspaper or greaseproof paper to help keep them in good condition, and prevent the spread of disease between the fruit.

Stack them on shelves or layer them in boxes. Apples can also be stored on fibre trays – try asking for them from greengrocers and supermarkets – or in clear polythene bags.

Perforate the bags first – one pinhole for each pound of fruit – or just leave the bags unsealed so that air can circulate around the apples.

Keep your apples in a frost-free, cool place, such as a garage, cellar or unheated spare bedroom, where a temperature of about 4°C/40°F can be maintained.

We’re supporting, once again this year, Common Ground Apple Day on October 21.

It is a celebration of the British apple and aims to raise awareness of our national and local varieties and traditional orchards.

We’re celebrating the event on October 21 by making juice from the apples in our garden for diners to try throughout the autumn, which staying guests can sample at breakfast.