An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This saying highlights the immense health benefits of nutrient-rich apples. Apples contain dietary fiber, flavonoids, antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients that contribute to a healthy body. Although apples are available year-round, you’ll only get the juiciest, crispiest, crunchiest apples when they’re in season.
Apples usually ripen from mid or late July through to December. Differences in climate conditions influence the harvesting time and the apple season. Various apple varieties also mature at different times, which affects their availability on the market. Overripe apples still have plenty of uses.
Apples that are in season are essential for the tastiest apple-based treats, such as cakes, tarts, puddings, crisps, applesauces, fritters, and pies. Let’s discover when apples are in season in your area, how to pick and store the ripe ones, and what to do with the overripe ones.
When Are Apples in Season?
Apples are available at grocery stores all year round, but this doesn’t mean apples are an all-season fruit. Instead, the availability of fruits from across the globe means local stores have a constant supply throughout the year.
Fresh, crunchy, crispy apples are available only in season, which starts as early as July and continues to as late as November. The apple season in the Northern Hemisphere peaks in September and October.
The apple season varies slightly depending on the climatic conditions of the growing areas and the type of apple. Every apple variety ripens at different times, which marks the beginning of the specific apple’s season as seen below:
- McIntosh: In season from September
- Gala: In season during the month of October
- Macoun apples: Available from early to mid-October
- Pink lady: Matures in September and October
- Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, and Granny Smith: In season from October
- Arkansas Blacks: Ripen in the fall
- Honey crisp: Ripe from mid-September to October
- Baldwin apple: late harvest in October through November
- Braeburn: Harvested in November
- Cortland: Harvested during September
- Empire apple: In season in September and October, but last until January
The biggest apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, and Idaho.
And if you can’t find fresh apples where you are, be sure to consider some shelf-stable alternatives. Dried apples like these Bare Baked Crunchy Apple Chips (on Amazon) are a great healthy snack you can enjoy any time of the year. Fruit cups like Mott’s Applesauce (also on Amazon) are another great way to enjoy apples (or at least apple sauce!) any time of the year.
Different Varieties of Apples
Summer apple varieties are in season earlier than the others, but they don’t store well. These early apples include Anna Apple, Gravenstein Apple, Lodi Apple, Dorsett Golden Apple, Paula Red Apple, Ozark Gold Apple, and Vista Bella Apples.
These apple varieties aren’t common in grocery stores, but you can find them at local farmer’s markets or specialty orchards. Fall-ripening apples are in season in September and October and are easier to store. These are apple varieties commonly found in grocery stores.
Fall apples include McIntosh Apples, Honeycrisp Apples, Cortland Apples, Golden Delicious Apples, Empire Apples, Gala Apples, Red Delicious Apples, and Ambrosia Apples.
Winter apples are the last to come into season and you can store these for months. Popular winter apples include Fuji, Braeburn, GoldRush, Wolf River, and Pink Lady.
How to Know When an Apple Is Ripe
Whether you want to eat a fresh apple in season or use the crunchy fruit in a recipe, always choose a ripe one. Apples in season are crispy and flavorful and guarantee that your recipe will come out perfect.
Here are a few tips to help you know if an apple is ripe:
- A ripe apple is firm and crisp but doesn’t feel too hard.
- A mature apple has a yellowish ground color around the stem indentation.
- Mature apples have dark brown seed coatings.
- Ripe apples have a sugary taste unlike immature ones, which have a starchy taste.
While apples change color as they mature, this indicator of ripeness can mislead you. Immature apples are green and get a reddish or yellowish color as they ripen. However, some varieties of apples don’t exhibit such color changes even when mature.
How to Store Apples
If you want to store your apples, choose an apple variety that suits your storage plans. Early apples that ripen in summer, for instance, don’t store well compared to apples that are in season in the fall or winter.
Some apple varieties that store for months include Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Red Delicious, Chieftain, Melrose, Fuji, Northern Spy, Mutsu, Stayman, Turley, Winesap, Rome, and Granny Smith.
Here are other tips to help you store apples successfully:
- Check the apples for any damage.
- Choose only ripe apples for storage. Overripe and underripe apples spoil fast.
- Store apples with the stem intact because microorganisms can eat into the apple and cause decay.
- Store apples at room temperatures on the kitchen counter for about a week.
- For long storage, wrap each apple separately for storage in a refrigerator crisper drawer at temperatures between 32-39° F. refrigerated apples can last up to six weeks. Create holes in the storage bag to allow the escape of gases produced.
- Separate different apple varieties because each type has a different shelf life.
- Store apples by size because larger ones go bad faster than smaller ones.
- Store apples away from other foodstuffs.
- For cut apples, squeeze lemon juice on them and refrigerate for 3-5 days.
How to Use Overripe Apples
Overripe apples aren’t sweet or crispy, but this doesn’t mean you should throw them away. They’re perfect for cooking because they break down easily. Here are a dozen great ways to use apples that are past their prime:
- Apple cinnamon toaster strudels
- Classic apple crisp
- Apple sauce
- In pancakes or muffins
- Bake apple bread
- Fried apple
- Apple butter
- Apple zucchini muffins
- Deep-fried, glazed apple fritters
- Double-crust apple pie
- Making soft and chewy granola bars
- Baked apples