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Frequently asked questions about New York State apples:

How are New York state apples grown?

Apple growing is a high-tech business these days, and New York State growers are leaders in innovation. For example: 

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a method of managing pests that combines different types of pest control methods − biological, cultural, chemical and mechanical − to reduce the possibility of harm to people, the tree and its fruit, and the environment. Under an IPM program, pesticides are used only when warranted. When pesticides are used, growers are required by law to follow manufacturer's strict instructions for the pesticide´s use.
  • Today’s planting systems use trellises to support and train trees. This allows more sunlight to get to the fruit, producing a better-colored, more flavorful apple.
  • Commercial growers are transitioning from standard-sized apple trees to compact dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstock. This allows more trees to be planted per acre (a.k.a. tree density), and yields more fruit per acre. These trees also reach fruit-bearing age faster.

How are New York state apples packed and stored?

New York apple packers and shippers utilize cutting-edge technology to grade, pack and store their fruit. 

  • Apples are graded for packing according to standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Grades include “U.S. Extra Fancy” (the top grade), “U.S. Fancy” and “U.S. No. 1”.
  • New York is in the forefront to use the new grading and packing technologies, including electronic fruit sizing, color grading and quality grading.
  • Apples are stored in either refrigerated storage or modified-atmosphere controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. CA storage was pioneered in New York State.

Why are apples waxed?

Apples are waxed to maintain freshness and to make them look better. This wax replaces the natural wax that is removed when the apples are washed at packing houses. We apply food-grade waxes that are perfectly safe to eat.

Sometimes apples have a milky film on them. What is it?

The food-grade wax coating on that apple has been exposed to moisture (such as condensation), which turns the wax white. It is harmless, and can be removed with washing with plain water.

Why do Rome apples sometimes have pink flesh, or has red streaks in the flesh?

Rome apples have such a deep, red pigmentation in the skin that sometimes it will “bleed” into the white flesh. It is completely harmless and natural. Some years it is worse than others because of growing conditions. It is not a dye or artificial coloring.

Sometimes when I eat an apple, the core is surrounded by a sweet, transparent fluid. Is it normal and safe to eat?

This is called water core, and is a result of excess moisture during growth. Water collects towards the center of the apple and it is usually very sweet because it will trap the sugars in the liquid. It is more common in Red Delicious. It is safe and not harmful. Apples with water core usually will not store well.

I cut open an apple and the core was moldy. Why?

This is called moldy core, and it is an occasional internal defect that is caused by certain growing conditions that are unpreventable. It is undetectable until the apple is sliced. It is not harmful, but it certainly should not be consumed since it is unappealing.

Why are my apples sometimes greasy?

The greasy feeling is the natural wax on the apple. Some apples, such as Jonagold and Cortland, have more wax than others. Usually if the apples feel greasy they are over-mature.

Are apples in polybags as good as apples that are sold loose?

Yes, absolutely. Usually the only difference is the size. Most bagged apples will be 2.5 to 3.0 inches in diameter, and most loose apples on display are at least 3.25 inches in diameter. In both cases the apples have to meet USDA grade standards.

Why do apples get soft?

Softening is an inevitable, albeit undesirable, part of an apple’s life cycle. You can significantly postpone softening by storing apples in the refrigerator, and not at room temperature. We refrigerate apples from the time they are harvested until they reach the retailer. To “maintain the cold chain” and help keep your apples from getting soft, refrigerate them once you get them home from the store.

Are there pesticide residues on apples?

U.S. Department of Agriculture surveys of pesticide residues on foods have shown year after year that most apples are practically residue−free. When a residue can be found, it is generally at levels well below government−established safety standards. Meanwhile, the health benefits of eating apples are well established – visit our Nutrition section to learn more.

Why do apples brown?

According to Cornell University’s Dr. Susan Brown, cut apples brown in response to the “injury” of being cut. The degree to which a variety browns depends upon the variety’s natural levels of polyphenoloxydase (PPO) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The lower the level of PPO, the less the variety browns. The higher the level of vitamin C, the less the variety browns. (Note that the difference in vitamin C content across varieties is not significant enough to affect nutrition.) Coating apple cuts, slices and dices with a solution of equal parts of vitamin C−rich lemon juice and water discourages the browning process. Alternately, 100% apple juice, with vitamin C added, can be used.

If I buy apples at a store and when I get them home they are no good, who do I contact?

Occasionally you may be disappointed with an apple purchase. After all, apples are perishable, and if they are not handled properly across the supply chain from our farm to your home, they can spoil. To request a refund, return the apples with your receipt to the store where you purchased them. Since the retailer sold you the apples, the retailer would be the one to offer a refund. If you purchased bagged apples, by law every bag should have the name and address of the packer. You may want to contact them as well. If the bag has a website address, then you can contact the packer via that company’s website.