Tennessee’s apple crop down after challenging season - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee’s apple crop down after challenging season

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NASHVILLE, TN. (WRCB) -- Despite weather challenges in 2012, Tennessee apple orchards will yield about 7.5 million lbs. of apples for harvest before a hard freeze ends the season. Typically the state produces closer to 9 million lbs. of apples between June and the end of October. This is good news for lovers of local, seasonal foods, who know that apples are one of the few foods that can be stored fresh through the winter.

Apples can be picked fresh off the tree right up until frost time, then, if carefully stored, useful up to a few months after picking. Most orchards grow several varieties, and although there are scores of apple varieties, most generally fall into one of two categories: cooking apples or "eating" apples. 

Keep apples fresh for as long as possible with smart selection and cold, dry air. Apples that are the most ripe or have any blemishes, including spots or bruises, should be used immediately. Eat them right away or preserve them by freezing or canning. Keep blemish-free, firm apples refrigerated and away from moisture as much as possible. Depending on refrigerator conditions, freshly picked quality apples can stay fresh for months.

Always call before visiting an orchard, even if official hours of operation are posted on the grower's website. A sudden downpour or a sudden rush of customers can temporarily close an orchard until the rows between tree lines dry out or more apples have time to ripen. 

Once there, talk to the grower, who'll have valuable information about which apples hold up the longest and which are best for particular uses. Many orchards also offer homemade treats like fried pies and jellies made with fruits grown right on the farm.

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