How to preserve the apple crop during winter ?

The apple harvest takes place from August until October, depending on the variety. Some are eaten in the weeks that follow, while others are guard apples that can be kept for several months. But for them to pass this storage period without spoiling, certain crucial points must be observed, both at the time of harvest and with regard to the storage conditions. This is what we are going to see together, so that everyone can enjoy all their harvest of apples during the winter.

Harvest the apples well so that they keep for a long time

The shelf life of apples depends of course on the variety but is also intimately linked to the way in which the fruits were harvested. A wormy apple or one picked in rainy weather, or even fallen from the tree alone, has every chance of get damaged in a short time. As it cannot be stored, it must be consumed in the days that follow, either as it is, or integrated into a culinary preparation.

Likewise, it is important that the harvest is completed before the first fall frosts, including that of apples that have not yet reached maturity. They are climacteric fruits, that is to say, they continue to ripen after picking.

Care is therefore taken to harvest the apples according to the rules of the art. They must have had time to for sure perfect after a good rain or after dew. We seize each apple without compressing it so as not to mark it and we twist it around its peduncle so that it detaches from the tree, then we gently place it in a crate. Avoid stacking apples intended for storage.

Conditions to follow to keep your apples all winter long

Here are some tips to keep in mind to store apples in the best conditions to preserve them as best as possible.

  • Immediately after harvest, store all apples under cover and let them “sweat” for 72 hours.
  • Sort the apples and assign crates to each category. It’s important to classify them as follows :
    • Apples to consume quickly because they won’t keep: juice, cider, apple brandy, compote, pastries… there are a thousand ways to prepare them.
    • The varieties of short shelf life,
    • The varieties of longue conservation or guard apples.
  • Place a single layer of apples per crate, peduncles downmaking absolutely sure that they do not touch each other.

During the ripening process, apples being climacteric fruits give off a large amount of ethylene. It is therefore essential to take into account their shelf life when storing them. This prevents varieties with a short shelf life from accelerating the ripening of others. If we are not careful, the whole harvest risks to rot in a few weeks.

As to choice of location in which you intend to store the apples from your orchard, it must be done with care. The conditions optimales to preserve your apple harvest during the winter are the following:

  • low light,
  • A temperature of 5 to 8°C,
  • A high humidity level, around 65 to 80%,
  • Good aeration/ventilation.

Better to take the precaution of installing a few tapettes because rats, mice and other field mice will not fail to attack the stock.

The apple room must imperatively be healthy and the same goes for the shelves, crates and other storage boxes. So we tackle everything to clean from top to bottom then disinfect in stride 15 days before let the apples be stored there. Disinfection is done with Bordeaux mixture, highly preferable to bleach! Finally, so that they keep perfectly and as long as possible, every week we think about eliminating the ethylene released by the apples by ventilating the room well. Of course, we take advantage of this weekly opportunity to check the condition of the apples in order to remove damaged ones immediately.

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