This year the hedgerows and woodlands have been so abundant with fruit and nuts that 2013 has been dubbed a Mast year. The fruit orchards have also been very productive – perhaps not quite a bumper crop – but compared to last year it feels like one. We are currently working in twenty-four orchards and with all of them cropping well harvesting different varieties of apples and pears at the right time is proving to be quite a logistical challenge.To complicate matters further for each apple variety there is an optimum time for picking and eating – unfortunately it is not necessarily the same time.
Early varieties, like Beauty of Bath or Worcester Pearmain, deteriorate quickly and should be eaten soon after picking. Some of the firmer fleshed mid-season apples are more forgiving and with the correct storage will maintain their flavour and keep well into the New Year. But some of the late season apples, generally those with a hard, dry flesh that have a deeper, more complex taste, need time for their flavours to develop fully. These varieties should be stored after picking and not eaten until January at the earliest. Many of the russets fall in to this category.
We will be giving some tips on how to store apples in a future post.