How to preserve the apple harvest during the winter?

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

Harvest apples well to keep them 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 are harvested. An apple that is wormy or picked in rainy weather or even fallen alone from the tree, has every chance of be damaged in a short time. Unable to keep, it must be consumed in the following days, either as it is, or integrated into a culinary preparation.

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

We therefore take care to harvest the apples according to the rules of the art. They must have had time to to dry perfectly after a good rain or after the dew. We grab each apple without compressing it so as not to mark it and we turn it around its peduncle so that it detaches from the tree, then we place it delicately in a crate. Avoid stacking apples intended for storage.

Conditions to be respected to keep your apples all winter

Here are some tips to take into account to store apples in the best conditions in order to preserve them in the best possible way.

  • Immediately after harvesting, store all apples in a safe place let them “sweat” for 72 hours.
  • Sort apples and assign crates to each category. It’s important to classify them as follows :
    • Apples to consume quickly because they will not keep: juice, cider, apple brandy, compote, pastry… there are a thousand ways to prepare them.
    • The varieties of short shelf life,
    • The varieties of long shelf life or potatoes.
  • Place a single layer of apples per crate, peduncles down, making 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 at the time of storage. This is to prevent short-shelf varieties from accelerating ripening of others. If we are not careful, the whole harvest is in danger of to rot in a few weeks.

As to choice of local in which we intend to store apples from our orchard, it must be done with care. The optimal conditions to keep your apple harvest during the winter are as follows:

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

Better to take the precaution of installing a few fags because rats, mice and other field mice are sure to attack the stock.

The apple room must absolutely be healthy and the same goes for shelves, crates and other storage boxes. So we tackle everything to clean from top to bottom then disinfect in the process 15 days before that the apples are stored there. The disinfection is done with Bordeaux mixture, highly preferable to bleach! Finally, to keep them perfectly and as long as possible, we think every week to eliminate the ethylene given off by the apples by ventilating the room well. Of course, we take this weekly opportunity to check the condition of the apples in order to immediately remove those that are damaged.