Harvesting Fruit


If you intend to eat your fruit straightaway, it is usually best to harvest it when it is fully-ripe. Fruits for storage should be picked earlier, when they are mature but not yet completely ripe. As most fruits ripen over a period of time, harvesting should also take place over a similar timescale.

The following table shows the harvesting times for apples and pears, and the defects in flavour or texture that may be caused by early or late picking:

Fruit Timing Havesting Problems
Apples Harvest when mature Too early: astringent, sour, starchy and poorly flavoured.

Too late: soft and mealy.
Pears Harvest when under-ripe Too late: fruit will become gritty and poorly flavoured.

You can test the ripeness of tree fruits such as apples by holding them in the palm of your hand and then gently lifting and twisting; if they do not come away easily, then leave them to ripen for another day or two. Always pick and handle the fruit carefully to prevent unnecessary damage; some types of fruit, such as grapes and cherries, should be cut off the plant to avoid this risk.

Discard any bruised, damaged or diseased fruits, as they may spread infection to healthy fruits when left in storage. You must also ensure that any soft fruits such as raspberries and strawberries are picked when in dry weather, as storing them when they are wet will cause them to rot rapidly.