Harvesting Summer Stone Fruit
How do you know when it is ripe and ready to pick ? ?
Fruit growing on the top usually ripens earlier than fruit in the shady interior of the tree.
Most ripe fruit will come off the tree easily when you lift it and the stem and give it a little twist and tug.
Apricots should be well formed and fairly firm. Pick when dark yellow or yellow-orange. To ripen, place them in a sealed plastic or paper bag and keep them at room temperature. Apricots are know as, “Moons of the Faithful” in China, their origin. From there they spread to Persia and the Mediterranean, eventually arriving in America with Spanish settlers ( and then to my backyard ).
Pears. Put your index finger on the stem, lift the pear from the normal vertical orientation to a horizontal or flat position with a slight twist. If the fruit snaps off cleanly between the stem and the twig, the pears are ready to pick from the tree with the little stem attached. If you have to break the twig or the fruit stem the fruit is probably not ready.
Let Pears ripen in a cool, dark place with a temp between 65 & 70 degrees F. Fruit should be soft to the touch and seeds will be brown, but the flesh will still be white or yellow. Most pears can be stored in this way for one to two months. However . . . Some late ripening pears, like Anjou, Bosc and Comice, need 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge at 32 to 45 degrees F to ripen properly. Wrap them in a piece of paper to keep them from shriveling.
Asian Pears ripen on the tree. Taste one from time to time and when they taste good, pick them. You don’t have to pick them all at once, but they will develop a ‘winey’ taste if they are left on the tree too long.
Plums should come off easily with the little stem attached, lift and twist the fruit and stem. Santa Rosa Plum sets the standard for flavor in plums and are usually ready about the 2nd to 3rd week of June in Las Vegas.
Pick Apples before they fully mature, picked at the right time they will keep longer in storage. Watch for changes in fruit skin color, fruit crispness and loss of a starchy taste. Look at the change in the apple’s background color. When most apples mature this background color changes from a leaf green to a lighter shade of green, eventually turning a yellowish color. You can pick most apples when the first signs of yellowing appear. They will also detach easily from the tree. Red apples are really red over green (or yellow). Don’t store apples in the same fridge with other fruits as they produce ethylene gas that causes everything to ripen quickly.
Pick Peaches with a creamy to gold undercolor, , , that best indicates ripeness. The amount of red blush on fruit depends on the variety and is not always a sign of ripeness. Two other indicators of ripeness are a well-defined crease and a good fragrance. Never pick peaches with a green undercolor since they won’t ripen well. They shrivel, become flabby and never achieve a good flavor. Firm, ripe fruit can be kept a few days at room temperature to ripen further. Remember, once a mature peach begins to ripen, it never stops; but you can slow the rate of ripening by storing it in low temperatures. Stored peaches should be held at 32-35°F in high humidity. Fully ripened peaches should be refrigerated immediately and kept there until ready to eat. Sound and mature, but not overripe, peaches can be expected to hold 1-2 weeks at 32-35° F with little adverse effects, but they deteriorate rapidly when stored for longer periods.
Pick Figs for eating, baking or freezing when they are fully ripe. For canning, pick when the fruit is ripe but still firm. Figs that have fallen from the trees are perfect for drying. Fresh figs will come off the tree easily, however, if a white sap is released from the stem when the fruit is picked, the fig is not fully ripe. Figs will keep in the fridge for up to one week to use in cooking or for puree. For longer storage, can, freeze or dry the figs.
Persimmons. There are two major categories of persimmons; astringent and non-astringent. Astringent fruit, like Hachiya, must be soft before they are suitable for eating. Non-Astringent fruit, like Fuyu, may be picked when turning yellow to orange to orange but still firm. When picking persimmons, clip the stem rather than pulling the fruit to prevent damage.