Seeing crunchy juicy apples at the farmers market in May might lead you wonder, “hmm….I thought apples were picked in the fall?” And you are correct; apples are picked in the fall; however, we have a wonderful apple storage technology that allows us to bring superior apples to market almost 12 months of the year.
Apples will keep well in a our regular storage which is a large walk-in cold storage. We keep the storage at about 32-34 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the humidity high (to prevent the skin from shriveling). This is one way that we store apples over the winter.
Another way that we store apples (and Asian Pears) is in a Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage. During harvest season we fill our CA storage room from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. Once the room is filled, the door is closed and sealed air-tight. Then for a couple of days we run a compressor which pulls all of the oxygen out of the atmosphere – hence we are controlling the atmosphere (CA).
So, why oxygen? What does it do to the apples? Oxygen allows the fruit to respire (or breathe). When an apple respires it is maturing and ripening. The maturity and ripening process of the apple is suspended without oxygen in the CA storage room.
We take great measures to pick our fruit at the peak of ripeness for you to enjoy. Because of the ripeness of fruit, it is especially important for us to have ideal storage conditions to prolong the storage life of apples and pears.
When you eat apples throughout the winter on through the early summer, it is most likely because the apples were stored in a CA storage (or they were grown in the southern hemisphere if you are purchasing from a supermarket).
CA storage is not an uncommon technology in the apple industry. Many large growers and packers for grocery stores use CA technology. However, Kuhn Orchards is unique in the fact that we are a relatively small fruit grower but saw the value in constructing a CA storage; we constructed our CA storage in 1980.