They can last a year or longer in giant, temperature-controlled warehouses.This article from the Huffington Post revealed how that happens. We wondered how produce is distributed throughout the year, and know we know... at least about apples!
Apples Are Often Frozen In Time
When you pick out an apple at the grocery store, you may not think much about where it came from. But the truth is that some apples take a fascinatingly long journey to get to you.
If you’re eating an American-grown apple at this time of year, chances are it’s been in storage for about five months now. Eat one in July, and it could’ve been stored for nearly a year.
· Alistair Berg via Getty Images, Checking on apples in cold storage in South Africa
Here’s how the process goes down.
There are two types of apple storage.
There are two types of storage: regular refrigeration and controlled atmosphere. Apples ― which are harvested between August and November, depending on variety ― usually enter refrigeration if their growers intend to sell them by December, Albinder told HuffPost. These giant warehouses are kept at 34 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit, preserving sweetness and crunch until it’s time to ship them to a grocery store.
Apples that will be sold later in the year head to controlled atmosphere storage, or CA. In this giant warehouse, temperature is lowered and oxygen levels are reduced to almost nothing. Without oxygen, the apples can’t “breathe” or ripen, and they’re essentially frozen in time. Growers often call this stage “putting the apples to sleep.”
They can stay there for up to a year.
Apples stay in CA from harvest time, which varies based on variety, until selling time. For example, Gala is usually harvested in early September. So if you’re eating one in March, it’s been in CA for about five months.
Albinder says apples can last more than a year in CA, but by then new crops have usually been harvested, so there’s no point. When packers are ready to sell the apples, they un-seal the CA warehouse, let the oxygen levels return to normal and start selling.
By all counts, they should taste exactly the same.
“If it’s handled and stored properly, then it should taste the same as when it went in,” Albinder said.