Get the most out of apple harvest season

By Dawn Pettinelli - UConn Home & Garden Education Center
Featured Article - posted Wed., Sep. 11, 2013
- Contributed Photo

The fall apple harvest is enjoyed by many New Englanders. Who can resist the aromatic scent of ripening apples, hand-picked on a crisp autumn day?

We are fortunate to have a number of local apple orchards to visit. Many offer apples already picked and packaged for your convenience, or you can stroll among the trees and pick your own. Go to; for a listing of apple orchards in your county.

There are numerous apple varieties to try. Each variety has its own distinctive flavor, color, shape, use and harvest time. Some are all-purpose, while other varieties are more suited for fresh eating, cooking or storage. Do consider your intended use when deciding which variety to purchase. A good guide to apple varieties grown in Connecticut and their ripening schedule can be found at:

How you pick your apples affects their storage life. The stem should remain attached to the apple. Without stems, apples will dry out faster and not store as well.

Apples form on small stems known as fruiting spurs. Gently but firmly grasp the apple, lift it slightly upward and twist. This should cause the stem to separate from the fruiting spur. Do your best to see that the fruiting spur remains attached to the tree. Broken or damaged fruiting spurs can reduce next year’s crop.

When it comes to a choosing a variety, everyone has their personal favorite. My two top picks are Jonagold and Northern Spy. Jonagold is a large-fruited, yellow-skinned variety streaked with red. Crisp, juicy and tart, it’s great for fresh eating and stores well. For pies, October harvested Northern Spy apples are hard to beat. A great keeper, these large, red apples are crisp and flavorful.

New England’s prize apple, of course, is the McIntosh. The medium-sized, bright red apples are tender and delicious, and perfect for eating right off the tree. Macouns are gaining in popularity. Another dessert apple, the small- to medium-sized, red-skinned fruits are ready to pick now.

Gala is a newer variety often seen on grocery shelves, which is now being locally grown. Its sweet flavor is enjoyed by many. An import from Japan, Mutsu apples have a unique spicy flavor. These apples are huge with a yellowish-green skin. They are superb for fresh eating and supposedly for baking, although in our household, there are never any left over for culinary attempts!

Cortlands are excellent all-purpose apples. The large, red-blushed fruits have pure white, crunchy flesh that resists discoloration longer than most varieties after slicing.

Check out some of these or other numerous other apple varieties grown locally. For questions about growing apples or any other home or garden topic, feel free to call the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, toll-free, at 877-486-6271, visit the website, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.

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