by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener
“An apple a day will keep the doctor away” a fruit vendor said to me as he was trying to get me to purchase a bushel of his red beauties. I thought to myself that I would never be able to eat all of those apples before they go bad. But then another thought popped into my head that I could store them and eat them well into the winter months.
It is necessary to choose the proper variety for long-term storage, which is anywhere from four to five months. The later-maturing apples, such as Red Delicious, Winesap and Rome Beauty, are usually better keepers than those that mature earlier. Different varieties have varying best uses so it is recommended to store several different varieties. Choose good quality fruit that is free of bruises, cuts or any other damage and has reached maturity but is not yet fully ripe. A storage ready apple should be firm, crisp, full-sized and have a greenish-yellow under-color. Fruit that is too ripe will become bad rather fast under storage conditions.
To provide the greatest delay in the ripening process of apples, they are best stored at 30 to 32 degrees with a relative humidity of 90 percent. From time to time, sort through your stored apples and remove any that are showing signs of decay.
The home refrigerator is the most practical device for storage of apples. Do not fill the entire cavity with apples as they continue to take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide and ethylene gas, so some air circulation is a must. Place the apples in the upper-most area of the refrigerator as the lower portion will be colder especially if the refrigerator is not opened very often. Because refrigerators have low relative humidity, apples should be placed in plastic bags that have some holes in them. This allows for air circulation to avoid excess moisture and to allow gas exchange. Apples can also be kept in crates in a cellar or an out -building that is humid and cool. Now if you want to go back to the days of Johnny Appleseed then you can give a straw-lined pit a try, but with the convenience of having a refrigerator in my garage, I am going to go that route for my apple storage.
As always, Happy Gardening!
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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