Monday, August 18, 2014

Pick no apple before its time

Apples on the tree, where they belong, at Hutchins Farm yesterday.
To everything there is a season, and today's post is dedicated to farmers who know when that is.

If that sounds odd, consider how often I've been disappointed by apples that are picked too soon.

Last week's Lodi vs. Yellow Transparent.
Two weeks ago. Can you tell which unripe apple is which? (Lodi is at right.)
Last week I compared Lodi vs Yellow Transparent, two early-season varieties that are related and are sometimes confused. Note, though, that they are easy to tell apart when ripe.

I did not mention in that report that I had tried the same head-to-head the week before.

However, the apples I had then were so unripe that comparison was impossible.

And the apples were awful.

I admit that when July rolls around, I'll buy anything for that first taste of the harvest.

And if someone is going to pick hard-to-find Cox's Orange Pippin or Ashmead's Kernel before their time—well, I'll probably have to buy some of those.

But with regret, not happiness.

I'm not going to name names here. I know that everyone makes mistakes. But nimble charms! Some of you are early an awful lot. (Not, by the way, Hutchins; all their apples are still on their trees.)

You grow great fruit. Please, let it ripen!


  1. Amen! I know growers might need to get some cash flow going early in the season, but seriously, is the point to grow money, or food? All that time and all those resources just to be nipped in the bud when so close to maturity and perfection. An unripe fruit is a disappointing thing. I have that problem with growers around here to the point where I can rarely get an exemplary fruit.

    1. Turkeysong, it's no great loss with such as Lodi, to be honest. And I had some too-early Gravensteins this month that still managed to express a lot of great Grav character.

      But those Ashmead's Kernels--my gosh, they are not so easy to grow in the first place, reputedly. And they just needed another week or so to be great.

  2. Our Summer Rambo has fruited for the first time this year, but there are only three apples. Since I have no previous experience with the variety, it will be guess work when to pick them. I don't have the luxury to test one and say "not yet," but I don't want to wait too long either.

    1. John, I hope I am not become such a scold that you feel the need to justify your practices to me!

      Sounds as though you still have 3 bites at the apple, insofar as if your pick one and it's not ripe you can wait before repeating the experiment.

    2. No. Just lamenting. I remembered wrong. There were four apples. I picked one a few days ago, and it was not quite ripe -- gave some character to some applesauce of mostly Wealthy drops, however.

  3. How do you know when an apple is truly ripe? Ideally, I guess you'd pick one every week until they are past their prime - then next year you know what it tastes like when it's perfectly ripe. But if you don't have the patience for this approach - are there any rules of thumb to follow?

    1. @13, how do you know when anything is ripe? Things grow at slightly different times each year, so you do have to look and taste.

      There is one useful indicator for apples in addition to things like color and size and things like flavor and texture. Namely, pip color! The pips should be brown, or at least turning brown.

      All of the unripe apples I've been grumping about this summer had white pips.

      Of course, if the apples are falling off the tree, better pick 'em quick.


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