Apple Harvest Season

Well, it’s apple harvest season once again!  The whole year I prepare for the Fall Harvest. The Autumn air is crisp and clear, and the fruit is swiftly ripening.  Some apples are already dropping from the trees, and that is a sure sign that it’s time to harvest. 

I shake the apples off the trees onto tarps with a long, hooked pole instead of hand-picking them.  I do this for several reasons.

1.  I don’t have enough help to hand-pick apples.  It has become more difficult to attract people who want to work outside.  I offer a good wage, but even that hasn’t attracted workers.  You need a lot of help to hand-pick apples.

2.  Shaking apples off a tree only removes the apples that are ripe.  The unripe apples remain on the tree.  I come back and shake the trees again over a two-week period until all the apples are harvested.  This ensures that only perfectly ripe apples are picked. 

3.  I’m not selling fresh-eating apples.  So, it doesn’t matter if the fruit isn’t perfect looking.  I convert all my apples into vinegar.  Apples that drop from the tree onto a tarp may become bruised just a little bit, but some bruising helps the apple become softer for grinding and pressing into juice.

4. Shaking apples off trees is a method I learned while studying traditional cider and vinegar crafting in England.  The English Master Brewers also hit the trees with poles to dislodge fruit, but I feel that’s too violent for the poor tree.  I just shake the branches and fruit comes tumbling down.  Sometimes I wear a hard-hat to protect my head!   

Harvest season is an extraordinary time of year for any farmer, but especially for apple growers.  The juicy, ripe fruit is a beautiful reminder of nature’s abundance.