A Guide To Choosing Apples
There is more than 7,500 varieties of apples. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to experience large sections of them in the supermarket. Once the type of apple is chosen, deciding on the best ones in the bunch may not be easy. Therefore, let’s find the answer to, how to choose apples?
The best way to choose apples:
- Buy apples locally.
- Choose apples with stems.
- Check the apple’s firmness.
- Examine for signs of rot.
- Choose apples with the deepest colors.
- Look for heavy apples.
- Choose organic apples.
Before you head out to the supermarket, reading this guide will help you choose the best apples. This way you can enjoy the best, healthiest apples for you. Let’s get started.
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How To Choose Apples
1. Buy Apples Locally.
Buying apples locally not only benefits you but also supports your local farmer and boosts your local economy. You’ll find the freshest, juiciest and healthiest apples at your local supermarkets.
Local apples taste much better because they have spent less time traveling from one state to another. They have encountered fewer bumps, temperature changes and nutrient losses.
If you shop locally, you’ll likely buy the apples within 24 hours after picking. Shockingly, apples from supermarkets are typically stored for 9–12 months before hitting the shelves.
These apples can last this long because the farmers pick them before they turn ripe. They encounter certain chemicals and are stored in controlled conditions 1. Apples that have not gone through this process will only last a few weeks.
If you buy apples locally, you’re more likely to get the freshest and healthiest apples available. Look for supermarkets using local farmers. In addition, search out local farms or farm stands in your area.
2. Choose Apples With Stems.
Sometimes you’ll find apples in the markets with their stems removed or missing. The stem protects the apple from decaying faster because it prevents microorganisms from having access to the apple 2.
An apple without a stem is like a house without a door, so avoid these and instead choose an apple still having its stem intact.
The stem, core and seeds of an apple contain nutrients as well as the skin and flesh. Although the stem and core of an apple contain the most bacteria 3.
Without consuming the whole core, you’re only consuming 10% of the bacterial cells found in an apple, according to Frontiers of Microbiology 4.
While some of this bacteria is beneficial, the seeds of an apple contain some poison and shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. Therefore, buy apples with stems but remove them and the core prior to juicing or eating them.
3. Check the Apple’s Firmness.
Before choosing the apple, check the apple’s firmness.
To check an apple’s firmness gently squeeze it. If the apple is soft and dents easily, it’s not a firm apple. Then tap the apple with the fingertip. The stronger the sound the more firm the apple is. A duller sound signals a mushier apple.
Be careful not to squeeze the apple too hard which may cause bruising. If the apple dents in easily, it will be mushy on the inside instead of crisp and fresh. Mushy apples mean they’re turning bad.
Therefore, go through the apples on display until you find an apple that doesn’t dent when squeezed 5.
However, if you want to make a smoothie, applesauce or something similar, then the softer ones may work just fine if enough firm ones are unavailable.
4. Examine For Signs Of Rot.
Another practical way to decide whether to choose a particular apple or not is by examining it for rot. It’s always best to choose an apple without bruises, dents or blemishes 6.
Apples starting to rot are distinguished by:
They will have a mushy texture when you eat them and won’t be as flavorful as you’d like. However, they’re still safe to consume once you remove the bruised areas 7.
Avoid apples with cuts and or slices which may occur during picking, traveling or storage. The cut exposes the flesh and makes the area turn.
To avoid rotten apples, look out for the following:
- Brown in color
- Wrinkly skin
- Liquid coming out of them
Eating rotten apples will make you sick, so always avoid them. If you see a rotten apple on display, call a staff member and point the rotten apples out to them. This way they can remove them from the shelves, preventing others from getting sick.
In addition, apples emit ethylene gas which speeds up the rotting process. Removing bad apples from the store or home will help save the remaining apples longer.
Can you get food poisoning from rotten apples? Rotten apples can cause nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. Mold growth from a rotten apple may cause allergic or respiratory reactions.
5. Choose Apples With the Deepest Colors.
When choosing apples, always choose apples with the deepest colors. The deeper color apples have the best flavor, are healthier and typically larger.
The deepest, fullest colors on an apple indicate it grew facing the sun. These apples are a better quality than those exposed to less sunlight.
Although deep-colored apples are the ones which should be chosen, avoid the shiny ones when buying them from a supermarket. They often come from a layer of wax applied to the apple.
If the apple is fresh from the local food market or farm stand, the waxy shine is typically natural as the apple produces it.
However, if the apple is store-bought, that shine is a synthetic wax and can disguise the quality of the apple. Anaerobic respiration can occur in the apple from synthetic wax, resulting in a shiny, firm apple on the outside but soggy on the inside.
This synthetic wax can also have negative effects on your body, so choose the less shiny apples when shopping in a supermarket.
6. Look for Heavy Apples.
The biggest apple is usually one catching your eye first, and finding it can feel like a big win. However, it may not be, as the largest apples may be the ones with the most water. These apples will be juicy, but they might not have much flavor.
However, this isn’t always the case. No matter the size, you want the apple to be heavy. If it’s light for its size, it means the apple is starting to dry out. Instead, put the light apple back in its basket and look for a heavier one.
If you’ve found a large, heavy apple, you indeed have found a winner.
7. Choose Organic Apples.
Non-organic apples are treated with pesticides to keep the trees free of bugs. These apples carry some of those pesticides with them to the store which is why cleaning the apples prior to eating them is important.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a yearly list of the dirtiest and cleanest fruit and vegetables. It’s a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest and lowest amounts of pesticide residue 8.
The 2021 EWG Dirty Dozen list has apples as number five following strawberries, spinach, kale and nectarines. This means of all the fruits, conventional apples have more pesticide residue than most fruits.
For this reason, choosing organic apples is the better choice.
Smoothie Tip: Adding frozen fruit, instead of ice, enhances the flavor and nutrient content. The secret to an easy smoothie with frozen items is having a blender powerful enough to handle the workload.
The blender I recommend has a 6 blade, multi-tiered blade, check it out and the current price on Amazon, Nutri Ninja BL685 with Auto-iQ Technology.
What are the signs of apples being of good quality? The signs of good quality apples are apples with a deep color, firm and heavy. A good quality apple is free from dents, bruises, blemishes, wrinkles, mold or oozing liquid.
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- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A mechanistic modelling approach to understand 1-MCP inhibition of ethylene action and quality changes during ripening of apples[↩]
- Apples: Do apples need to be harvested with stems?[↩]
- Frontiers in Microbiology: An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples?[↩]
- Today: Study claims we’ve all been eating apples wrong-here’s why[↩]
- University of Illinois Extension: Apples and More[↩]
- The University Of Tennessee: Selecting Quality Apples[↩]
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Apples are Peaking; Choose the Best Preservation Method[↩]
- EWG: Dirty Dozen[↩]