Saturday, July 17, 2010
Earlier this spring, I bagged the baby apples on one of our trees. If you don't remember, I wrote about it here. Actually, we have two trees; one tree had a lot of blooms so those apples became the "experimental bagged" apples, and one tree had one bloom, and thus one apple, so it was my "control" apple.
We've been watching the apples grow inside the bags and it dawned on me one day that we don't know how to tell when they are ripe. I vaguely remember reading on the tag that these apples were supposed to be ripe in late summer. Or maybe I remembered that from a movie. So I did a little research and the internet apple experts have this to say:
1. Look at the color. Puh-lease, like I couldn't have figured that out.
This is the "control" apple. Its shape is a bit deformed and it has a bad spot which the ants have found. I don't know how much longer it will hang onto the tree.
This is one of the "experimental" bagged apples. It is yellowish, which could be the right color if I knew what kind of tree this is. The apple Hubby found on the ground had red around the top, this one didn't.
The only problem is that we can't remember what kind of apple trees they are, although I'm pretty sure one of them is a Gala and the other one is something else. But I don't know which is which. Also, they were a very light yellowish green with a pink blush when I bagged them, and that's what they are now, and I think that's the color some ripe ones from the grocery store are too. Sooo, next?
2. Hold the apple and squeeze. It should barely be squishy. Um, squishy compared to what? A baseball? An orange? A water balloon? Ok, I held an apple, squeezed gently.... and it felt like an apple. Or a baseball. Kinda the same.
3. Watch for apples falling to the ground.
Thursday, Hubby mowed the yard and found a bagged apple on the ground. There were ants in the bag with the apple, but the apple looked fine so Hubby cut it and we ate it (without the ants). It was a little dry, a little tart, and sweet. Yeehaw, we have a winner; it's apple-pickin' time!
Or is it?
4. See how shiny the skin is, the shinier, the juicier. Well, these definitely aren't as shiny as apples from the grocery store, but aren't those waxed? The apple we ate Thursday wasn't juicy even though it has been raining lately, but earlier in the summer it was really dry and we planted the trees in an area that is hard to water, so it didn't get a lot of supplemental watering.
5. Hold the apple up to your ear with one hand, and with your other hand, use one finger to tap on the apple. If the sound you hear is hollow and echo-y, then the apple is ripe and crisp. If you hear a flat or thud-like sound, the apple isn't very crisp. Now wait a minute. My neighbors think I'm strange enough without sticking my head into the tree and holding an apple to my ear. And besides, my apples are in a plastic bag hanging on a tree and this advice was probably for picked apples in a store, although I've never heard anyone listening to apples in the store either because I would be the first to back away slowly and notify the authorities. Still, I held and apple up to my ear and thumped, but all I could hear was the sound of thumping against plastic.
6. Toward the end of summer, pick an apple every day or so, and taste it. Near ripe apples are tart and their seeds are white. Dark seeds indicate the apple is ripe.Good advice if you have an orchard I guess, but I only have nine apples left. The one we ate Thursday did have brown or brownish seeds. Still, I thought it wouldn't hurt to pick one since the one on the ground was pretty good. So I went out to the bagged tree this morning, and there was another apple on the ground. This one also had ants in the bag and a brown, mushy spot on top. I did the feely test. Yellow part like a baseball, mushy part like a water balloon.
3. Pick your apple by using an upward, lifting motion. If the fruit comes away easily, then it is ripe. Aha, here we go. I tested the apple and it took a good tug to pull it from the tree. Probably not a good thing.
Out of the bag, you can see how perfectly shaped it is, golden, with brown on top, like a Golden Delicious.
Pulling forcibly or twisting the apple is likely to tear off the spur, where the next year's buds are already beginning to form. Spurs are easily broken off; if too many are destroyed, there may not be enough apples next year. If it resists, it's not ready. Move on to the next apple. Not all apples on the same tree are ripe at exactly the same time. Oops. I guess I should have read that part first.
4. Bite into your apple. Juicy and sweet apples are mature, while bitter-tasting fruit is not ready for harvest.
Judging by the way Hubby's face drew up into "bitter beer face", I figured we did not have a winner here. I bit off part of my apple. And spit it in the trash. Not ready! But the seeds are dark, at least on the outside. I wonder if they are supposed to be dark all the way through, or if light inside is normal? Nothing I can find online tells about that.
Soooooo, I bought, (actually I asked Hubby to buy) a Gala apple and a Fugi apple from the grocery store because I'm pretty sure one of the trees is one of those.
They look similar in coloration, but not size; the Fugi is the bigger in this picture.
I cut the Gala apple, extracted a seed, and cut it in half. The answer to my question is that the outer part of the seed is dark, but the inner part is white. In fact, the outer part is more like a husk.
Then, in the interest of science, Hubby and I ate the apple. I didn't think it tasted anything like ours and Hubby thought it tasted a lot like ours except sweeter.
So in conclusion, I have absolutely no idea what kind of apple trees we have or how to tell when the apples are ripe.
Until next time, may you have blessings and the sweet fruits of summer,
P.S. Every picture of apple trees I found on the internet show apples growing in clusters. I think I thinned out perfectly good apples for nothing.
July 22, 2010 Update:
I picked another apple yesterday evening. This one came off in my hand when I lifted it.
It was delicious, but definitely not a gala or a fugi.