Picking eating apples and pears
You’D think it would be a doddle – just walk up to your tree, pick the fruit and sink your teeth into it – yes? Well, yes! Some varieties of apple and pear are indeed that simple, but many aren’t. If your apples or pears are dessert varieties that ripen in late-summer and early to mid-autumn (eg apple ‘Discovery’ in August, ‘Ellison’s orange’ in September and ‘Pixie’ in october) then it’s just a case of establishing when they are ripe.
You’ll find many hints in books and online for this point of perfection: “when the apple seeds turn brown, when there are windfalls, when the fruit parts easily from the spur,” but the most reliable method is to take a bite out of one or two sample fruits.
You’ll tell if that dessert variety is ready – if it’s delicious, tuck in, if your face puckers up (apples) or it’s as hard as a rock (pears), wait a bit longer! Many of us grow dessert varieties of apple and pear that ripen in storage (‘D’Arcy Spice’ apple or ‘olivier de Serres’ pear).
With these, get them off trees in early october, before frosts are due, and they’ll mellow in flavour and be ready for eating in coming weeks and months.
‘Ellison’s orange’ is a dessert variety which ripens in September
‘olivier de Serres’ pears
‘D’Arcy Spice’ apples