August Fruit Ripening Tips

If you’re a fruit tree owner, sometimes it can be hard to tell when the best time to request your pick is. Now that the berry season has come and gone, there are new fruits in town!  Apricots, plums, apples, crabapples, pears and grapes are all ripening and are set to be ready soon! Your fruit might be falling all over the yard already, and while we know how frustrating that can be, it doesn’t necessarily mean your tree is ready to be harvested! Read on for more information on how to tell when it’s time to request a pick.

First to come are the Apricots and Plums, which are often referred to as stone fruit because of the hard pits at their centre. They begin to ripen sometime between cherry-berry season and apple-crabapple-pear-grape season. Unfortunately, this year has not been the greatest for stone fruit. Across the city, we are seeing many trees that just didn’t produce any fruit this year. Fruit trees are very sensitive, and the cold, wet, long spring significantly impacted this year’s harvest.

Not to worry, though, apples and pears are on their way in! Usually ripening between early August and early October, these fruits are much easier to pick as compared to berries. Their wide ripening window and resiliency allow them to not only ripen over a long time but also stay on the tree once ripe. Usually, apples will begin to ripen first and pears later, around mid-late August.

Apple Ripening:

Apple trees will start to drop many of their apples early on before peak ripeness, so falling fruit does not indicate that an apple tree is ready to be picked. A great way to gauge how ripe your apples are is to cut them in half and take a look at their seeds. If the seeds are brown, the fruit is ripe, but if the seeds are still white or light brown, they need some time before they ripen completely. Also, have a taste! Tasting your fruit is a great way to see how ripe it is. Depending on what kind of apples you have the taste may vary, but if they are tasty and crisp without being overly starchy or hard, they are ripe! If they are hard to bite and sour or bitter then they’ll need some more time, let them hang out and check back in a few days.

Crabapple Ripening:

Crabapples are similar, but different than regular apples.  Crabapples are a much smaller variety of apples; they are usually tart and bitter with harder flesh than apples but have a delightful sweet undertone as well. They ripen for the most part alongside apples but start a bit earlier sometime between August and September. Like apples, you can check the seeds to gauge their ripeness, brown seeds mean they are ripe! They come in many varieties both red and green and are very obviously much smaller than a normal apple when ripe.

Pear Ripening:

Pears are best harvested before they look ripe on the outside, because they ripen from the inside out. Once pears look completely ripe on the outside, they may be overripe on the inside, making them taste mushy and gritty. A ripe pear on the tree should be firm to the touch but have a little bit of give when squeezed. They should detach easily from the branch with a horizontal tilt and a little twist.

Grape Ripening:

Grapes also grow abundantly in Toronto and tend to ripen from mid-August to late- September. They can change colour well before they are ripe, so colour isn’t the greatest gauge of ripeness. Ripe grapes have a sweet taste and are crushed easily between your fingers. Grapes won’t ripen once they’ve been picked, so it’s ideal to harvest them at peak ripeness.

This time of the fruit season is full of bountiful harvests – many apple and pear trees can produce upwards of 100 lbs of fruit per pick! If you’re a fruit picker get ready and keep an eye on the Fruit Picking Portal to snag a spot on an upcoming pick!

Further Reading

August Fruit Ripening Tips

Making Cherry Jam at Scadding Court Community Centre