How to store fruit
A suitable storage place might include a garage, shed or cellar, provided that it is:
- cool, with an even temperature of 2.8-7°C (37-45°F) for apples and even cooler for pears, if possible (pears can even be stored in the salad compartment of a fridge)
- frost free
- slightly humid
- free from mice
Five steps to storing fruit
- Find containers such as crates, slatted shelves, polystyrene or papier-mâché trays or shallow wooden boxes. The ideal container will allow good air movement through the sides and over the top. Special wooden storage racks with draws are available
- Select blemish-free, medium-sized fruits, ideally with their stalk intact. Those picked just under-ripe usually store best
- Lay fruits in a single layer not touching each other. Place fruit carefully so as to avoid bruising. If necessary, apples can be stacked on top of each other but using a container with open-slatted sides will allow air flow. Handle fruit very carefully to prevent bruising
- Try to keep different cultivars separate as they ripen at different rates. Ideally, keep mid-season cultivars away from late-season ones so that they do not speed up ripening. Label the boxes
- Keep fruit away from strong scents that may taint them such as paint, fertilisers and onions. Quince have a very pungent smell and are best kept away from other fruit
Check stored fruit regularly:
- Pears can ripen and pass their best quickly so need daily checking. In warm storage conditions they will soften slightly when ripe but, in cooler storage, ripeness will be indicated by a subtle change in colour and they’ll then need to be brought into the house for a day or two to soften before eating
- When one tray of fruit is reaching optimum ripeness, remove it from storage promptly as the gasses released may speed up the ripening of the remaining fruit in store
- Discard any fruit that show signs of rot to prevent disease spreading
Extra measures such as wrapping apples individually in newspaper or tissue paper can help them keep longer but will be a hindrance to regular inspection.
If no suitable storage conditions are available, small quantities of apples can be put in plastic bags in the fridge to store for a few weeks. Fill a bag with 2-3kg (4lb 6oz - 6lb 10oz) of fruit, pierce several holes in it and fold the top loosely to allow air circulation.
Storing some pears loose in the salad compartment of the fridge can help to delay ripening until after those in store have been used.
Harvesting and storing garden fruit by Raymond Bush (Faber and Faber 1947, ISBN 54053000473672). This book is also made available through the RHS Lindley Library.