Sizing Up the Apples

These young Macs at Pine Hill Orchards, Colrain, Massachusetts, will double in size before harvest. (Russell Steven Powell)

APPLE SEASON is just weeks away. The earliest varieties, heirlooms like Red Astrachan and Yellow Transparent, in fact, will be ready for picking within days.

They are best eaten fresh, though, remnants of the pre-refrigeration age, when extending the harvest was paramount. They deliver excellent apple flavor, but they do not store well and should be eaten or cooked soon after harvest.

The bulk of the crop will begin to ripen starting in mid-August, with early varieties like Jersey MacGinger Gold, and Zestar.

While May’s freeze will reduce the size of the New England crop, there should still be plenty of apples, just not always in the same places, and not every variety.

As always, use our Orchard Finder to see what your favorite orchard has in store before visiting.

For now, the ample rains will help the apples reach excellent size and flavor. While field crops have suffered, apple trees’ deep roots are better able to absorb the excess moisture and help the fruit grow.

With or without apples, there remain many reasons to visit an orchard. Blueberries are ready now, with other berries, fruits, and vegetables to follow (and, of course, cider donuts, apple pies, and other baked goods). There’s nothing like experiencing life on the farm!   

Blueberry cluster, Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)

Fresh-picked blueberries, Russell Orchards, Ipswich, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell)