Unlike other fruits, apples continue to ripen after they are picked. People often want to know how they ripen best. Some people place them in a bowl on a table, while others place them in the crisper in the refrigerator.

If you are looking to keep your apples longer, at least until they are ripe, you should keep them in the refrigerator. They prefer a temperature of between 31 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit, so place them in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Why Apples Prefer the Refrigerator

Apples ripen well in the refrigerator. Although they continue to ripen after they are picked, they do not grow sweeter. They do become softer.

They ripen because apples emit a gas that is harmless and colorless called ethylene. This process is made slower by the cooler temperatures, so your apples will last longer.

It is important to also note that the release of ethylene can harm other produce and cause them to rot quickly, so you should make sure that the apples are placed with other produce that can handle the release of ethylene.

If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, you can keep apples in a cool place such as the garage or the cellar. You should make sure that they do not freeze, and keep them moist and cool.

Apples Prefer Humidity

Another trick to keeping your apples and allowing them to continue ripening is to keep them moist. They prefer an environment that has 90% humidity. Your refrigerator by nature is a dehydrator, so it will dry them out.

You should place a wet paper towel or a wet sponge in the refrigerator with your apples. You can also spray them with water every couple of days.

When to Pick Apples

You should pick apples when they are mature, but they should still be hard. You can look at the skin color to see if they are mature, but feel them to make sure that they have hard flesh. The larger apples will not store as well as smaller ones, so they should always be used first.

If you have picked your apples early, they will be hard, and they may be a bit sour. Generally speaking, apples do not become sweeter as they ripen at home.

They will grow softer, but the taste will stay the same. You should try to pick your apples at the right time. You can look at the following to know when to pick the apples:

  1. Count the days from the bloom to know when optimum ripeness is. Each type of apple tree has a different number of days, but you can count the days.
  2. Look at the color of the apple. This is the best way to know. When it is red all over, it is ready to be picked.
  3. Ripe apples also separate from the branch easily. You should be able to twist it and have it come right off.
  4. If you cut the apple open, the seeds will be brown on ripe fruit.
  5. If a few good apples have fallen from the tree, it is likely that the others are also ripe.
  6. If the apple is a little bit soft and sweet, it is ripe and ready for eating.

How Do Apples Ripen After They Are Picked?

Because they release ethylene, apples do ripen after they are picked. However, they do not grow sweeter; they only grow softer. They will do best in a cool setting, such as the refrigerator, a cellar, or a dark cool place in the garage.

They prefer moisture, so do not let them dry out. You need to control the temperature, humidity, and oxygen levels in the apple’s storage area to allow the apple to ripen without spoiling.

When Is an Apple Ripe?

There are specific characteristics that apples have when they are ripe and ideal for eating. You can examine them to determine some of these qualities, and you need to feel them and cut one open to find out more.

Take a look at the following:

  • Appearance: Apples should be bright with skin that is free of blemishes or insects.
  • Firmness: Apples should be firm and crisp. They will soften over time.
  • Sweetness: Apples have sugar content, and they should be sweet.
  • Flavor: The flavor includes the acidity of the apple. As it ripens, it will become sour.
  • Defect-free: Apples should not have bruises, decay, shriveling, or browning.

How Apples Ripen Other Fruit

The ethylene that apples emit can also help to ripen other fruits. In fact, it can cause some produce, especially vegetables, to ripen too quickly and go bad.

If you have other fruit that needs to be ripened, you can place it with the apples in the refrigerator, or you can place it in a brown paper bag with the apples. You just need to make sure that the fruit you place with it doesn’t ripen too quickly.

How Long Do Apples Last?

Apples can keep longer than other fruits, but they still have a shelf life of eight weeks. How long they will last depends on when they are harvested and how they have been stored.

Apples prefer cool temperatures with humidity, so they should be stored in a refrigerator or other cool spot. You need to make sure that you keep them moist. They will last for different periods of time depending on how you store them.

On average, they will last:

  • Five to seven days on your counter
  • Three weeks in your pantry
  • Four to six weeks in the refrigerator
  • Three to five days in the refrigerator once they are cut
  • Eight months in a freezer once they are cut
  • Three to five days cooked

Final Thoughts

People often want to know how they can ripen apples that have been picked too early. There are things that you can do to ripen your apples.

You will not be able to make them sweeter because they do not become more sweet once they are off the tree. However, they will grow softer over time, and they will last for up to eight weeks if you store them in a cool, moist location.

Author

I have a bachelor's degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I'm home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.

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