By Lindsay Owens
Fall is here. Cooler temperatures, pumpkin spice everything is everywhere. Hoodies and flannel become wardrobe staples for many. Fall also means it’s apple season.
Apple picking season tends to begin in mid- to late-September and ends in October, and there are several area markets that offer a variety of fresh apples. Some even offer you-pick options.
Here are just a few tips for selecting apples, whether off the tree yourself or from a market or orchard.
- Contact the farm in advance. Apple picking is a wildly popular activity, so expect a crowd to be there on a typical autumn weekend. That can be tricky to navigate while social distancing, so call ahead to learn about new protocols and if the operating hours are the same. If the farm is open several days per week, ask which days are the least busy and schedule your trip when foot traffic figures to be minimal.
- Choose firm apples without bruises. According to Pickyourown.org, apples should be crisp and firm. Don’t worry about the color of the apple, as color is not an indicator of ripeness. Instead, Pickyourown.org advises people to ask the farmers which apples are ripe, which is determined by how long it’s been since the trees flowered.
- Gently place picked apples into your basket. Pickyourown.org recommends gently placing apples into your basket after picking them. Tossing them into the basket may cause bruising, which can lead to the apples spoiling prematurely. While it depends on the variety, many apples that are not bruised tend to last a long time, especially when stored in a cool place. So taking care of them when picking them can mean you get to enjoy apples for several weeks.
- Clean apples before eating them. The Food and Drug Administration notes that produce can be contaminated even after it’s been picked and brought home. The FDA advises consumers to wash their hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce. Produce should be rinsed before it’s peeled, so any lingering dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable. If bruising has occurred, cut away the damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating them.