Make going to a local apple orchard a yearly event! Getting apples straight from the grower, always gives you the best tasting apples no matter if you're eating them fresh or cooking with them.
When you arrive at the orchard, talk with the folks who work there. They are your best resource for any questions you may have as no one knows their apples like they do!
Tell them what you'll be using the apples for: pies, jam, eating raw or cooking other ways. They'll be able to direct you to the best apple for the application.
If you can pick your own, don't go for the fallen ones on the ground. Many times, wasps, bees, deer or other critters have already found these so it's best to just leave them where they are.
As tempting as it may be, it's best to wait to bite into your apples until after they've been washed. Just a good practice to have with fresh produce of any kind.
Apples won’t ripen further after picking, so be sure the apples are ripe first. The grower can point you to trees that are ready to pick.
Pick from the outside, lower branches first. Apples on the outer limbs ripen first, so start there.
The best way to pick fresh apples from the tree is to use a gentle twist-and-pull motion. When an apple is ripe, it should release easily using this method. You shouldn’t have to tug too hard.
Don't shake the tree... this will cause unneccesary waste. If you want apples that you can't reach, ask the farmer if you can use a picking tool to get the higher apples.
Apples bruise easily, so handle with care. Don’t toss picked apples into your basket. Carefully place them there instead. Bruised apples rot quickly and cause the other apples to rot too—”one bad apple” really does spoil the whole bunch!
Storing your apples:
Counter/Table Top. A basket of bright red apples brings a cheerful touch of autumn to your kitchen table. However, at room temperature they won’t keep long. Limit the number of apples displayed on your counter to just what you plan to consume within a few days.
Crisper Drawer. If you want to keep apples fresh for a week or more, store them in the cold crisper drawer of the fridge.
Apples last longer when kept dry, so don’t wash before refrigerating.
Apples release ethylene gas that causes other fruits to ripen quickly (you can use apples to ripen green tomatoes because of this) so it’s best to isolate them from other fruits.
Depending on the variety, apples should keep for about two months in the refrigerator. Check them weekly for signs of bruising or rotting. Remove those starting to deteriorate (and cook them!). See our recipe for Kitcheneez Apple Crisp under Recipes.
*Many of these tips are from the Farmer's Almanace website (a great resource for lots of fresh produce).