Waiting for the perfect moment
As a general rule, it is best not to pick apples and pears too early because the fruits need enough sunshine to bring out their full flavour. If they are picked too soon, they may lack sweetness and taste. However, pears in particular should not be left on the trees for too long because they will not taste juicy but rather mealy instead. The degree of ripeness is influenced by a wide range of factors, so determining the exact moment to pick either fruit is far from easy. The weather plays the most important role because apples and pears may ripen a little earlier or later than the average ripening time indicated on the plant label depending on the amount of sunshine that they receive. The position of the tree in the garden and the variety of fruit, for example whether it is an early or late-ripening variety, also has an influence on the correct time to harvest.
According to old gardening lore, the colour of the core of the fruit can be used to determine its ripeness. Apples and pears should therefore be picked when their cores have turned a darker shade. The best way to check the colour of the cores is to cut open a fruit that has fallen on the ground. This tip is particularly useful for pears. You should not always count on this method for apples though because with late-ripening varieties or at higher altitudes the apples may not always be completely ripe even if their core has turned brown. And even later varieties only go from being ripe enough to pick, to ripe enough to truly savour after weeks in storage. To be sure that your apples and pears are ripe enough to harvest, the "tip test" helps for varieties with a long enough stem. This involves tipping the fruit on its stem by up to 90 degrees, or rather onto its side. If the fruit is ripe enough to pick then it will simply fall off the branch. This means that the fruit is ready for harvesting. If the stem remains attached to the tree and the fruit falls off instead, you should wait a little longer before harvesting.
Harvesting — a skill worth learning
If you want to still be enjoying sweet fruits in the winter, we recommend that you put pip fruit into storage. Only healthy and undamaged fruit from designated storable varieties are suitable for storage. This is why it pays to be extra careful at harvest time: When filling your harvest basket or bucket, ensure that you take care when putting the fruits inside so that they are not damaged. Only undamaged fruit from storable varieties will keep for months in storage. With the help of the GARDENA Fruit Picker, you can pick ripe fruit comfortably and easily from the ground without having to climb up and down ladders like an acrobat. The stainless steel knife on the Fruit Picker ensures that you do not damage your apples and pears when harvesting them. If you plan to store your fruit, do not harvest them on a hot sunny day because then apples and pears will be too warm to be stored away in a fruit crate. As wet fruit spoils more quickly, you should also refrain from harvesting on wet days.
Storing food the right way
Early varieties cannot be stored for long so it is best to go for dedicated late varieties and storable varieties that mean you are guaranteed to still be eating fresh, home-grown fruit well into the New Year. Check your fruit thoroughly before storage. Only the best quality fruits without any bruises or rotten sections are suitable for storage over winter. Ideally, the stem should still be attached to the fruit, too. We recommend that you check your stored fruit on a weekly basis at first so that damaged fruit can be removed immediately and used in the kitchen instead. Never store apples together with other fruits or potatoes because they emit the natural gas ethylene, which accelerates the ripening process in other fruits. Apples and pears are best stored somewhere cool and damp. Dark rooms are well suited to this, if possible in temperatures of between 1 and 3°C. A cool, dark cellar, a frost-protected garage or a cool attic are particularly good places to store fruit.