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The Right Way to Pick an Apple—and 8 Other Things to Know Before You Go Apple Picking

Leaves are starting to turn and the air is getting crisper—it's finally apple picking season! We spoke to experts to get the best intel on how to upgrade your apple picking experience.

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Family apple pickingPhoto: Shutterstock

Wear the right gear

What does your ensemble have to do with apple picking, you’re wondering? First, you want to make sure you’re prepared for potentially damp fall conditions. According to Peter Hull of Apple Dave’s Orchards, “Apple trees are out in a field with tall, six inch grass. Warm, dry shoes make for happy picking!” He adds that dressing in layers is a good idea, too, because a day that starts out chilly may end up sunny and warm.

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Woman holding basket of fresh applesPhoto: Shutterstock

Keep your skin covered

Wearing shorts to an apple orchard probably isn’t the best idea unless you’re interested in battling mosquito or potentially tick bites—and there are more and more tick-borne diseases out there—after apple collecting. All that tall grass is a safe haven for bugs.

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Picking apple from treePhoto: Shutterstock

Yes, there’s a right way to pick

It turns out the right way to pick an apple is to the left. As odd as that might sound, Hull says it’s to protect and preserve the tree’s health, so you can keep coming back for apples year after year. “Twist to the left, never pull off branches and leaves.” A good counter-clockwise twisting motion will help give your apple stems the cleanest break.

Here are more facts about apples most people don’t know.

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Red apples in tote bagPhoto: Shutterstock

Bring your own tote bags

Sure, the orchard you’re going to may give you fun buckets, baskets and other gear for picking apples, but after apple collections are done there is a good chance they’ll either be loaded up in cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags, or other less sturdy carrying options. Not every orchard will allow you to use your own tote bag while you’re out picking, but at least having one after you pay and load up the car will help simplify getting your precious cargo from the trunk to your kitchen safely.

Here’s how to clean a reusable shopping bag.

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Fresh apples on wooden tablePhoto: Shutterstock

Store your apple harvest in a cool, dry place

“Apples stored in a cool, dry place can last for months,” explains Hull. That means you’ll be loaded with heart-healthy, fibre-rich fruit till the New Year if you play your cards right.

Check out more painless ways to increase your dietary fibre.

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Man sorting through applesPhoto: Shutterstock

Know which varieties you’re picking

Different apples are good for different uses, people, and even age groups. Hull suggests Gala apples for apple-picking families with young children because “Galas are a small, sweet apple for great chomping by little teeth.” If you’re a little more mature and like a tart apple flavour, you might want to head to a Granny Smith or Braeburn orchard. Applesauce lovers will go wild for Cortland apples, and apple pie recipe addicts should head straight for a field of Fuji apple trees thanks to their ability to stand up to heat in ovens and stove tops.

It’s official—these are the best apples for apple pie!

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Farmer with fresh organic red applesPhoto: Shutterstock

Find the best local apples

Just because you’re a Red Delicious fan doesn’t mean that’s what grows best in your region. There’s good news, though—apples grow in almost every corner of Canada. In fact, any region that reaches a “chill zone” of 0 to 7 degrees Celsius is good for apple growing, but other factors like soil can impact which types grow best in your region.

Check out this gorgeous photo gallery celebrating autumn in Canada.

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Children apple pickingPhoto: Shutterstock

Pick more than you think you need

Even if you’re not the biggest consumer of apples, hand-picked apples are a fun and inexpensive gift to surprise your friends and family with. There’s something extra special about telling someone you personally collected each and every apple they’re receiving, or eating in a delicious apple recipe. Plus, they store well, so there’s really nothing to lose except some refrigerator space.

Find out exactly how to stock your fridge if you want your food to last.

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Fresh apples growing on treePhoto: Shutterstock

Resist the urge to eat apples direct from the trees

Even if you get a little hungry while you’re picking, experts suggest resisting your urge to snack on your goodies unless you have the ability to wash your fruit first. Apples are a thin-skinned fruit that often require extra layers of pesticides and other chemicals designed to protect them from pesky bugs, birds and even snack-loving deer.

Now that you know how to make the most of apple picking season, brush up on the health benefits of apples.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest