Apples: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 05.42 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Your parents may have mentioned this old adage to you on more than one occasion to you when growing up: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. The origins of the phrase lie in the United Kingdom where variations of the proverb: “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread”, appear as early as the 19th century in literary sources. This folklore from the British Isles is not far off the mark, with apples now recognised as an important source of Vitamin C (for a healthy immune system), phenols (that can lower cholesterol) and flavonoids (noted for their antioxidant effects).
Apples are ready to be picked once they’ve completed their full growing cycles. This can vary from anywhere from early in the season to late in the season – depending on the variety of apple that you are growing. With apples, colour is not the best indicator of ripeness since an apple will develop its final colour intensity before it is fully mature. Instead look for crispness and firmness – they are better measures of when an apple is ready to be picked. A useful trick to know is to look at the stalks and see if they are brown coloured and lacking moisture – this usually means an apple is ready to be picked. If the stalks are green the apple is still receiving nutrients from the tree and is not ready to come down. Remember to always pick a single apple as a sample before you harvest the entire tree. When you do harvest make sure you pick each apple by lifting it towards the sky and twisting rather than pulling it down towards the earth, this will help prevent damage to the apple and maintain its lifespan.
Choose apples from the tree or from the supermarket or grocery store by selecting those that are firm, crisp and free from skin breaks or bruising (this can decrease the storage lifespan of an apple).
Apples are best stored in a refrigerator since they ripen about 8-10 times faster when stored at room temperature. Keep them in a chilled compartment or in a perforated plastic bag so that they don’t absorb other flavours from your refrigerator. Try to avoid freezing your apples since they will deteriorate quickly when thawed. If you are slicing your apple to eat on the go, sprinkle a little citrus juice on it from a lemon, orange or lime – this will help the apple maintain its pale flesh colour and stop it from turning brown and mushy.
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