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When to Harvest Fruit

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 19 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
Harvesting Fruit Ripe Fruit Picking

If you grow your own fruit you will look forward to huge harvests of delicious fresh fruit. But how do you know when it’s ready?

Most fruits are ready to harvest in the summer and you can tell when they’re ready by gently squeezing them before picking them. Some fruits, such as pears, need to be harvested before they are ripe, as they will develop a gritty consistency if they are allowed to ripen on the tree.

You can normally tell when bush and cane fruit are ripe, as the birds suddenly take an active interest in it, and, if you don’t move quickly, it will all be gone before you’ve had a look in. Generally speaking, however, your fruit will be ready in the same period each year, when it is ‘in season.

The following list identifies which fruit you can harvest each month:

  • June – gooseberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, strawberries
  • July – black currants, cherries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, strawberries, tayberries, white currants
  • August – early-season apples, blackberries, blackcurrants, cherries, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tayberries
  • September – mid-season apples, blackberries, elderberries, plums, raspberries, strawberries
  • October – mid-season apples, elderberries, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries
  • November – late-season apples
These ripening dates are subject to weather. An extra-warm summer can see blackberries ripening in early July, for example, when they’re normally first seen in late August. Strawberries are not unheard of in May, and if temperatures continue to increase as they have done in recent years, we could be seeing them as late as November.

How to Tell if a Fruit is Ripe
While the above list may tell you can pick redcurrants in June and cherries in July, this doesn’t mean that every fruit on the tree, cane, bush or vine will be ready to pick. You’ll have to use your common sense, when picking, to work out which fruits are ripe (don’t pick green strawberries, for example), but the following tips might make it a little easier:
  • Gooseberry – they will be soft to touch, and red in colour. Pick them under-ripe for use in cooking however, when they are still firm
  • Currants(redcurrant, blackcurrant and white currant) – ripe currants have a deep colour and will be around 8-12mm in diameter
  • Rhubarb – the stems will be long and a deep pink.
  • Strawberries – ripe fruits will be a deep, almost glossy red, and sweet and juicy to taste
  • Cherries – they become firm when ripe, and can usually be plucked from the truss with a simple twist
  • Berries(raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, tayberries) – they will be a rich colour and soft to touch. They will come off the bush easily and taste sweet and juicy
  • Apples – they will fall from the tree easily and be crunchy and full of flavour (some late-season varieties need to be stored to fully develop their flavour)
  • Pears – harvest them when still firm and store in a well-ventilated container until you are ready to eat them. If left to ripen on the tree their flesh can become gritty and their taste is impaired
The main thing to do when looking to harvest your fruit is to regularly inspect it. A good rainfall or spot of sunshine can bring on any fruit, and it’s important to get to the fruit before the birds do and before it becomes spoiled. Harvesting your fruit is a pleasurable and rewarding experience, and so is tasting the fruits of your labour.

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None - Your Question:
When to remove Bramleys.We have a mature Bramley tree, which has a great crop of large cookers. I've always understood that the trick is to twist gently and they will be ready when they require little effort to remove them. Is this so, and will they need further ripening, as you suggest some fruit might do? We used this method for our eaters, and it has been very successful, with no ripening necessary.Thank you.

Our Response:
Yes, you are right. In order to determine when your Bramley is ready to be picked is to gently twist and if the apple doesn't come away easily then it is not ready. Another way to tellis to cut one in half and if the pips are brown they are ready. If you pick too early they may shrivel in storage, too late and they will not store as well. Happy harvesting.
FruitExpert - 20-Sep-16 @ 12:00 PM
When to remove Bramleys. We have a mature Bramley tree, which has a great crop of large cookers. I've always understood that the trick is to twist gently and they will be ready when they require little effort to remove them. Is this so, and will they need further ripening, as you suggest some fruit might do?. We used this method for our eaters, and it has been very successful, with no ripening necessary. Thank you.
None - 19-Sep-16 @ 2:15 PM
l am away from home at present, but have noticed GOOSEBERRIES in the shops, are GOOSEBERRIES good to freeze, my wife love's my GOOSEBERRY jam. if they are freeze-able will get the wife to get me some and store in freezer till my return. Thanks for info
jam-maker - 10-Jul-16 @ 4:52 PM
I have picked a lot of blackcurrants and gooseberries which are not fully ripe (as I lost all of them last year).Please can someone tell me what is the best/easiest thing to do with them? Thanks
Pat - 9-Jul-16 @ 10:58 AM
I have a bushI thought was Blackcurrant as I asked for Blackcurrant & blueberry, last year we had several red currants on it but waited to see if they would go black, they never did the birds got them first, they are red now how do I know if they are red currants or blackcurrants?
Yorkie - 14-Jul-15 @ 2:44 PM
I have a large vine that produces lots of grapes (I've forgotten the variety) which remain small and basically don't ripen. Can I use them to make apple and grape chutney?
Maxithecat - 28-Aug-14 @ 1:46 PM
Rebel_Sheep Those are blueberries :)
Fruity - 17-Jul-14 @ 6:18 PM
when are red valentine apples ready to be picked
vic - 20-Oct-13 @ 7:25 PM
Hi there you use a pictures of sloes, but then the fruit isn't mentioned in the article. I'd like to know when they are ready to harvest and how to tell if they are ripe. Thanks
rebel_sheep - 12-Aug-13 @ 2:39 AM
Can you ripen blackcurrants off the vine? Finding the right window of opportunity to harvest odd fruit here and there is difficult. Now, some of the fruit is ripe and some nearly ripe, and some nowhere near. When picking ripe fruit, sometimes unripe fruit is dislodged and I don't want to discard it. Will it ripen on a windowsill?
Mel0465 - 8-Jul-12 @ 11:36 AM
With berries, you're right, they need to come off the stem easily. But at the same time, you have to catch them in the brief window before they begin to become too squishy, which can really be a problem with raspberries. Though you gives months for each type of fruit, a lot is going to depend on the weather. A cold, wet spring is going to set harvesting times back quite a bit, and will also affect the size of the crop/
David - 25-Jun-12 @ 10:36 AM
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