Posts Tagged ‘apple tree’

Apple Storing and Processing Made Easy

October 9th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Isn’t autumn magnificent!

All those colourful leaves, fresher mornings and wild pickings to be had – and then there’s the abundance of awesome apples! They’ve been cropping since summer, but it’s the later to mature apples that will keep the longest.

Thinning-your-apple-tree-produces-a-better-harvest-and-bigger-healthier-fruit

Read on or watch the video to discover how to store apples properly, as well as three delicious ways to process them!

How Long do Apples Keep?

When apples ripen is a good guide to how long they’ll store for. Early ripening apples don’t keep for long at all, so they’re best eaten straight off the tree.

Apples ready to pick mid-season generally keep a while longer – for around 2-3 weeks. To maintain freshness put up to 10 apples into a polythene bag, pierce some air holes into the bag then place your apples into the refrigerator.

Late-season apples are the real keepers. Most varieties should keep to the end of the year, and some as late as next spring – if they’re stored correctly.

Avoid-your-apples-touching-when-storing-by-using-slatted-boxes-or-wrapping-them-in-paper

How to Store Apples

Only store varieties known to keep well.

If you can, pick apples in the morning while it’s still cool, and slightly under-ripe so they don’t over-ripen in storage. Only perfect apples make the grade, so use up blemished or bruised fruits immediately.

It’s important to prevent apples from touching in storage – that way if one goes bad it won’t contaminate the others. You can loosely wrap the apples in paper to help avoid this.

Apples should be stored somewhere cool but frost-free. If it’s still warm and you only have a few apples, keep them in your refrigerator until the weather turns fresher.

Place the apples into slatted boxes, racks or a purpose-made apple store. Whatever you use, it must allow for good air circulation. Consider insulating boxes with hay, straw or shredded paper if temperatures are likely to fluctuate or drop too low. Suitable storage spaces include sheds, root cellars, well-ventilated basements and shaded, enclosed porches.

Small apples tend to keep for longer, so eat the largest ones first. Regularly check stored apples and use up or compost any that are going soft or beginning to rot. Your garden birds will appreciate any less-than-perfect apples, especially at a time of year when finding enough food is a struggle.

Freezing Apples

If you haven’t got anywhere suitable to store your apples, freeze them. Frozen apples can be used for baking, smoothies, jam, jelly and applesauce.

Begin by coring then peeling your apples. Cut them into slices then coat the slices in lemon juice to prevent them discolouring. One lemon should give enough juice to treat slices from six to ten apples.

Arrange the slices onto a cookie sheet or baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment, then pop them into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid they can be transferred into labelled freezer bags or containers to stop the slices from freezing into a single lump – or simply freeze them in portion-sized containers. You can also prepare ready-to-bake apple pie fillings for the freezer.

Making Apple Rings

You could also make your own apple rings.

Start with washed apples, either peeled or left as they are. Core the apples then cut into very thin slices – about 1/8-1/4 inch (3-5mm) thick. Arrange the slices onto oven racks or dehydrator trays so they’re not touching. If you like, add a dusting of cinnamon. Dehydrators make drying easy and give a uniform result. Set the temperature to 135ºF or 57ºC. If you’re using an oven, set it as low as it goes – usually 150ºF, 65ºC or gas mark 1.

Drying takes from 6 to 12 hours depending on slice thickness, water content and drying conditions. Your apple rings are ready when they’re dry and leathery to the touch. Or dry them further for crispy apple chips!

Once your apple rings have completely cooled pack them into airtight bags or containers and store somewhere cool, dark and dry for up to six months.

Making Apple Juice

Apple gluts can also be juiced – and you don’t need any specialist equipment!

Put cored, chopped apples into a large stew pot. Add just enough water to cover, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat until the apples collapse to a soft mush. Now strain the mash through a fine-mesh sieve, working it back and forth with a spoon to extract all that lovely juice. This will need doing in stages.

If you prefer your juice clearer, filter it through cheesecloth or coffee filters. If necessary, adjust sweetness and add more water if it tastes too strong. Refrigerate your juice to enjoy within the week, can it by pouring hot juice into sterilized jars, or freeze in airtight containers to keep for up to six months.

Whether you eat them fresh, put them into store or process them into delicious snacks and drinks, there’s no excuse for wasting apples this autumn!

If you have any advice or top tips for storing and processing apples, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Why Thinning Your Fruit Creates a Better Harvest

July 26th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s summer. Your fruit trees are already brimming with young fruits, ready to eventually give way to a delicious crop to enjoy at the end of the growing season. But if you want to get the most from your harvest, you will need to start removing some fruits. It may feel like you’re taking a step back, but it’s the way to go if you want your crop to reach its full potential.

Read on or watch the video to find out why thinning your fruits is best for your harvest not just this growing season, but for future seasons too.

Why Thin Fruits?

Selectively removing young fruits is called thinning. Some trees already do this naturally, like apples and pears, during what is known as the June-drop. But additional thinning can benefit your crop for a number of reasons:

  • It creates less chance of the tree fruits rubbing together, which can lead to diseases like rot.
  • It stops trees from biennial bearing – where the tree crops heavily one year, only to produce very few fruits the next.
  • It stops the branches straining and snapping under the weight of excessive or heavy fruits – particularly a problem with plums, which are notorious for over-producing.
  • It gives the remaining fruits the space they need to grow into bigger, healthier fruits. They will benefit from more airflow, sunlight and energy from the tree, meaning a more even ripening.

How to Thin an Apple Tree

You will need a sharp pair of pruners, however if the fruits are very close together you may find it easier using a pair of scissors so you can really get in between them.

Apples generally produce clusters of between two to six fruits, but the aim is to thin them down to just one or two fruits per cluster.

When you’re ready for cutting, start by targeting all the misshapen, damaged or scarred fruits. This usually includes the odd-shaped ‘king’ fruit, which lies at the centre of the cluster. After that, remove the smallest fruits and any that are awkwardly positioned and going to get in the way of your better fruits. Continue thinning until the fruits are evenly spaced, leaving only the biggest and healthiest.

Aim to leave about 4-6 inches (10-15cm) between individual apples of eating varieties. For larger cooking apples, aim to leave around 6-9 inches (15-23cm) between your fruits.

Pears need less thinning than apples, but will still benefit from it as well as give more consistent harvests.

Thinning Other Fruit Trees

Pears

Pears don’t need as much thinning as apples, but your crop will still benefit from having the young fruits thinned and in turn will give you consistent harvests. Aim to thin fruit cluster to two fruits, leaving around 4-6 inches (10-15cm) between fruits.

Plums

Thinning plums is important as they are notorious for over-producing. More often than not, you can thin the smaller fruits by using just your thumb and finger to detach them. Aim to leave one fruit every couple of inches (5-8cm), or one pair of plums every 6 inches (15cm).

Peaches

Thin your peaches in stage. Once they reach the size of  a hazelnut thin them down to one fruit every 4 inches (10cm). Thin again once they are the size of a golf ball to their final spacing of 8-10 inches (20-25cm).

Nectarines

You should thin your nectarines just the once to 6 inches (15cm) apart.

 

These are just some guidelines for thinning your fruits to help create a better harvest. If you would like to share any thinning tips or tricks with us, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

How to Plant & Grow Bare Root Apple Trees

March 10th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Fruit trees are great to grow yourself, providing you with plenty of harvests and delicious fruits. This short post will go through how you can successfully plant and grow bare root apple trees Fruit trees are great to grow yourself, providing you with plenty of harvests and delicious fruits. This short post will go through how you can successfully plant and grow bare root apple trees.

  • When removing the apple tree from the packet. you must be careful and ensure that the buds aren’t removed from the plant.
  • There may not be much root on your apple tree, but they don’t need much! Once you pop them in the ground, they make fibrous roots – these are the most important roots.
  • Dig up 1metre x 1metre in the ground for your apple tree, ensuring there is room for the apply tree roots to grow.
  • Plant it into this hole and firm it into the ground.
  • Remember to keep the ground clear around it, so that moisture can access the plant.
  • Any flowers that appear on your tree, it’s best to take these off so that the fruit can build up.

Next year, following the planting of your tree, you should see some fruit appearing. If you’d like to buy some Mr Fothergill’s apple trees, you can find them here on the website.

Let us know if you have any tips or tricks for planting apple or any fruit trees, either on the blog or our social media.

How to Plant & Grow Bare Root Apple Trees

 

How to Harvest, Store and Process Apples

October 10th, 2016 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

picking and storing applesIf you’re lucky and have an apple tree in your garden, it’s likely to be filling with fruit. It’s important to make the most of this fruit. This post will share the best times to pick apples, as well as the best ways to store and preserve them.

Knowing when to harvest is vital. Apples are often ready when the skin colour deepens. Those situated at the sides and top of the tree ripen first as they receive more sunlight. Ripened fruit should easily come away from the tree, if windfalls affect your apple trees then you can use that as a sign to begin harvesting. A simple taste test is sometimes the best way to confirm if apples are ready for harvest!

Picking an apple is just as simple, lift up and give a gentle twist until the apple comes away. Each apple should detach completely with its stalk. Always handle apples carefully to avoid bruising their flesh.

Storing apples is the next step. You should only store mid or late-season apples. Early-season varieties don’t keep and are best eaten soon after picking. Mid-season varieties should keep for a few weeks and late season varieties will stay in good condition for anywhere up to 6 months.

Apples that you wish to store, cannot have blemishes or bruises as these could provide entry points for rot. Store apples on slatted trays that allow the air to circulate and make sure they are not touching. Various varieties will require varying storage times, so ensure you separate different varieties.

An ideal area to store apples is somewhere dark, well-ventilated and cool but also frost-free. Garages and sheds are ideal, basements and attics should be avoided.

These are just a few tips and tricks for picking and storing apples. For further advice on apples, you can watch the video below.

If you have any advice for picking and storing apples, be sure to leave them in the comments below.

GrowVeg – How to harvest, store and process apples

How to Harvest, Store and Process Apples