University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
STORING FALL FRUITS
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
fall fruits at the correct stage, and storing them properly, will
their longest life and usefulness, often for months.
find a grower with fall raspberries, or like me grow your own, these
special treat this time of year. As with
the summer raspberries, pick when they easily pull off from the
or stem, refrigerate soon if you don’t eat them first. Make sure to
wash well, checking for insects
that may be enjoying a fall snack as well.
They wont keep long, so eat or use in a few days, or freeze them.
Rinse well, spread on paper towels or cookie
sheets in a freezer, then place loosely into freezer containers. If
into containers and then freeze the berries, they tend to freeze
into one large
rely on color alone when deciding when grapes are ripe and ready to
pick. Growers actually measure sugar content
(“brix”) to determine when to pick. You
can do this simply by tasting. Ripe
grapes are sweet (particularly if table grapes), many have a whitish
coating, seeds are brown, and clusters separate easily from vines.
Birds eating your fruit also are a clue that
fruit are ripe! You can pick grapes
slightly unripe or “green” if you will use them for jelly, or if
ripen further. The latter occurs if the
average temperatures drop below 50 degrees (F), and frost has killed
store best if picked dry, and if the whitish bloom isn’t rubbed
off. Pick whole clusters rather than individual
grapes, leaving the stems intact.
Harvested this way they’ll store
for several weeks in a refrigerator.
tree fruits ripen in the north in early fall.
Fruit should separate from branches easily, with a slight upward
twist. Resist the temptation to squeeze
and poke fruit with fingernails.
European plums, such as the late ‘Stanley’ or ‘Damson’, pick when
fully colored and covered with a white, powdery bloom similar to
grapes. They’ll store for a few weeks in a
grow some of the hardy European pears, such as ‘Flemish Beauty’,
‘Parker’ or ‘Patten’, pick fruit early.
Unlike most tree fruits, don’t let these ripen on the tree,
they’ll become gritty and begin to rot inside the fruit. Use a
gentle, upward twist when picking, and
leave stems on the fruit. Wrap them in
tissue paper or newspaper, and store cool (35 to 45 degrees F) for a
week or more, until ready to
eat. For best flavor, leave them at room
temperature for a few days before using or eating.
you’re lucky to have a warm enough area to grow peaches, such as the
‘Redhaven’ or ‘Reliance’, they’re best ripened on the tree prior to
picking. Ripe peaches and the related
nectarines (basically a non-fuzzy peach) are fully colored when ripe
somewhat soft. For this reason pick and
handle with care, as they easily bruise.
Apricots—ripe when still firm but a blush color—are a bit firmer,
still handle with care. These will store
generally for 5 to 6 days if cool, or 3 to 4 days if at room
temperature. Wait to wash them until you’re ready to use.
are probably the most popular tree fruit, with many cultivars
varieties) ripening at various times.
Some, such as ‘Baldwin’, ‘Cortland’, ‘McIntosh’, and ‘Northern Spy’
ripen over a fairly short season.
Others, such as the heirlooms ‘Gravenstein’, ‘Jonathon’, and
‘Winesap’ ripen and are harvested over a longer
period. If you plan to store apples, use
them for cooking, or just need to beat local wildlife to them, pick
are fully ripe when they’ve turned the appropriate color. Ripe
apples separate from the tree
easily. Just make sure when picking not
to damage any of the short stems called “spurs” that will produce
fruit. If in doubt about ripeness, cut
an apple open and look at the flesh and seeds. The flesh of ripe
apples is less
green, more white, in general. Seeds of
ripe apples have turned brown. The best
indicator, though, is taste. A ripe
apple is crisp, juicy, and sweet (although, of course, the
will vary with cultivar).
apples and store cool soon after picking, unless you want to ripen
them at room
temperature or are going to use then.
They should last 4 to 6 weeks in a refrigerator. Later cultivars
generally store longer than
earlier ones. Mid-season ones such as ‘Cortland’
and ‘McIntosh’ will last up to 4 months while later ones,
such as the heirlooms ‘Rome’ and
‘Winesap’, often last 5 months or more.
Best conditions to store apples are cool (40 degrees F or below but
freezing), with high humidity.
sure to store fruits away from vegetables, if possible. Apples can
pick up a musty flavor from nearby
potatoes. Both apples and pears can pick
up strong odors from nearby cabbages, turnips, and onions. Keep
apples away from other fruits too. They give off ethylene gas which
other fruits to ripen more quickly.
tips on picking, storing, as well as using these and other fruits,
can be found
in the Fruit Gardener’s Bible by
Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry (Storey Publishing).