Whether you're visiting a pick-your-own farm or growing backyard apples, crisp, autumn days signal apple harvesting time. Apples mature at different times, depending on the variety. Jonathans, for example, mature before Red Delicious apples. Maturing times also vary, depending on the weather. Apples mature sooner if you've had a very warm summer, later if you've had a wet, cool summer. Pick apples with a partner if you plan to use a ladder.
Inspect the apple's color. According to the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Service, a red apple is ripe when the "ground color" (the portion of the apple facing the tree) turns from leaf green to yellowish-green or cream. Green or yellow varieties such as Golden Delicious or Granny Smith should be yellowish-green.
Taste the apple. Mature apples are firmly textured, juicy and crisp. Immature apples taste sour and starchy. Overripe apples are soft and mushy.
Pick mature apples by holding them lightly at the base of the apple and turning to snap the stem from the tree. Leave the stems intact. Place a ladder against the tree to reach apples out of reach.
Sort the apples, removing any that are diseased or rotting. Use bruised or cut apples immediately.
Store apples in perforated plastic bags or large zip-top bags in the refrigerator. Store between 32 and 40 degrees F. Use the large apples first as they don't store well. Store large amounts of apples in a second refrigerator or in plastic bags in an unheated garage, cellar or shed. Bring inside if cold weather (below 32 degrees F) threatens.