One of fall’s joys is the opportunity to pick, eat, can, mash, cook, bake or otherwise enjoy big, red, juicy apples. The globalization of agriculture and food supply means we’ve largely forgotten about the fact that apples are meant to ripen in fall, since you can now get them year round. But fall is—and should be—apple season.
A few years ago, a friend of mine took me on a road trip up to the Okanagan Valley in BC for a U-pick experience. We got a short lesson from the orchard master (what an awesome title, hey? I will never forget that), and then we were sent to pick to our heart’s content. The nice thing about apples is it’s very easy to tell when they’re ripe, and it’s very hard to pick an apple “wrong.”
That being said, he did have some tips:
- Apples grow from outside in, so the ripest ones will be on the outer branches.
- Try to preserve the stem, as this makes your apple last longer
- Keep apples cool after picking to make them last (we stored ours in the cool dark area under our stairs)
- Keep apples humid but not wet to prevent shriveling (our orchard master suggested a wet towel placed nearby and changed frequently)
- Don’t wash them until right before use as this will prevent spoilage (washing the skin weakens it)
After our picking we were able to take our apples with us back home, where we used them for a solid month and a half of baking, snacking, mashing and sharing. I am certain I ate my weight in apples and then some. My favourite, favourite thing I made in that time period was an apple/pear crumble (it’s also pear season). Here’s a link to the recipe.
And here’s a link to U-Pick places across Canada. Happy picking!