For Georgians, fall-season family time often includes trips to the mountains to see the changing leaves and buy Georgia-grown apples.
If you are ever overwhelmed by the variety of apples available for sale, here are some tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to help you make wise choices this apple season and select varieties that can be preserved successfully.
Apples taste best when they are at the peak of maturity. When selecting apples, remember that size does not determine maturity.
Choose apples that are free of defects, such as bruises, skin breaks and decayed spots. Do not worry about “russeting,” which refers to the little brown spots on the skin of the apples. Russeting does not affect the quality of the fruit.
Soft apples tend to have a mealy texture and overripe flavor, so choose hard, firm apples.
Keep apples in a cool, dark place and do not tightly cover or wrap them. Use perforated plastic or an open paper bag, basket or wooden crate to keep apples at peak quality while you enjoy their fresh flavor.
If refrigerated, place apples in the humidifier compartment or in a plastic bag with several holes punched in it. This protects the moisture and crispness of the apples. Do not refrigerate apples near foods that have strong odors, like onions, as they may acquire those odors.
To preserve apples, be sure to choose them at their peak flavor and quality and determine the preservation method that fits your needs. This versatile fruit is deliciously dried, made into applesauce or apple butter, or combined with pears for apple-pear jam. Apples do not make the highest-quality slices when frozen or canned, but they may be preserved by these methods.
Choose the preservation method that best suits the apple variety, too. For freezing, use ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Rome Beauty’, ‘Stayman’, ‘Jonathan’ and ‘Granny Smith’ apples. For making applesauce or apple butter, use ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Rome Beauty’, ‘Stayman’, ‘Jonathan’, ‘Gravenstein’ and ‘McIntosh’. When making applesauce, apple butter or dried apple slices, it is important to process apples as soon as possible after they are harvested. ‘Red Delicious’ apples do not cook or freeze well, so they are best when eaten fresh.
Choose high-quality apples, store them carefully and preserve your favorite varieties. Spreading apple butter on hot bread or eating a warm apple pie on a cold winter day is the reward for preserving apples.
To find an apple orchard in Georgia, visit https://www.georgiagrown.com/find/fruits-vegetables/apples.