Apple season in Iowa offers nutritious opportunities

By Ruth Litchfield, Sarah Francis, and Cynthia Haynes–Iowa State University and Outreach

As apples come into season, find out when to harvest them and how to store them.

AMES, Iowa – The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t far from the truth. Apples are a popular fruit due to their taste and nutritional benefits. Apples are a good source of fiber and rich in antioxidants, while also being low in sodium and naturally cholesterol-free. These nutritional characteristics help lower the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. There are more than 2,500 apple varieties that can be grown in the United States. The Iowa climate is good for several popular cultivars as outlined in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Fruit Cultivars for Iowa handout. 

While August is the start of apple season in Iowa, the type of apple determines when it is best to harvest. If you are planning to store your apples for later use, it is best to harvest fruit when they are mature, but not ripe. Mature apples will be full size, greenish-yellow or light straw undercolor, and hard and crisp. View this quickinar video to hear more tips on growing apples.

The type of apple, its ripeness, and how it is stored will determine how long before they spoil. Apples stored at room temperature will ripen six to ten times faster than if they were stored in the refrigerator. If you have an abundance of apples finding different ways to preserve them may be useful. Apples can be dried, made into applesauce or apple butter, or even pie filling! Watch this video on apple preparation to learn more about making and canning apple pie filling.