Still eating Liberty apples from September

I’ve had good and bad experiences storing Liberties and always go into that part of harvest with some trepidation. And my failures led me to think of Liberties as being poor keepers. After Fluffy Bunny commented this fall that he had never found them to be that way I was encouraged and now I feel dern-right triumphant.

I keep a cooler (actually a cheapo freezer turned down) in the basement and I had about 50# of apples, plus some pears, in storage there this year. I had put them in poly bread bags, tied with twist ties, and put the bags of apples in plastic buckets with tight-fitting lids. The whole works then went into the cooler, with strips of wood to hold them off of the sides and bottom of the cooler. I’ve had trouble with localized freezing when the plastic bags set directly on the metal liner of the unit.

Yesterday I dredged up a bucket and opened it. Gave my wife one to sample and watched her closely! The apples are still very, very good. Juicy, good crunch, firm skin, slightly more mellow than when first picked, and showing early signs of a modest change of texture.

And a few days before that we came across a bag that had been lost in the bag of our refrigerator and which actually had quite a bit of ice in it. Those apples are, if anything, even a little better than the ones from down stairs. I’m just delighted.

I’d like to find a way to keep my apples on ice all winter without actually freezing them, but for now I’m pretty happy with what we got.


Mark l am still eating Liberty apples too that I picked about late September. They mellow out real nice and stay crisp. I just had mine in regular fridge in a cardboard box. They are just now getting a bit wrinkly but still crisp and juicy. Maybe you can enlighten me on the science of ripening - I was under the impression that trapping the ethylene gas accelerated the ripening. Do I have that wrong? How does enclosing the fruit help it keep?

Wish I could, Andy, but I’m in the same boat as you. I agree that trapping ethylene should accelerate ripening. But it may be a function of temperature -well, obviously, it just about has to be- and maybe there’s some critical point where controlling the temp, together with preventing dehydration outweighs the ethylene question.

I know that commercial producers, who have to know what they’re doing, you’d think, use perforated bags. But, lots of commercial fruit is stored in controlled atmospheres, so that may be part of the equation.

Glad I could answer your question …

This is great motivation to get my liberty scions grafted. I put on a few yesterday and last night I kicked back and read your post about how good they are. Today I put on a few more. Hope to have some of my own Liberty fruit soon. Bill


Maybe the seals were tight enough that the rate of oxygen getting in into the bins was reduced to that of the fruit respiration and you created you own mini controlled atmosphere? Though that seems unlikely because I work in controlled atmosphere “glove-boxes” for a living (research) and even the smallest hole will leak a huge amount of oxygen in a few hours even with oxygen scrubbers going.

That is interesting and surprising to me, although I don’t especially like Liberty even straight off the tree as grown here. Some folks really like it, but not most when given the choice of many other varieties.

I have an ax to grind, however, because I hate the form of the tree. It is one awkward grower and my customers expect me to make their trees beautiful.

In my nursery I always try to put another variety on the higher tiers of the trunk of Liberty, which requires a very narrow upright shoot off the trunk (to become the upper trunk). Liberty is not cooperative in providing this either.

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I think that it’s almost an understatement to call this tree “awkward”- I would have been better off starting with a better behaved tree. My Gold Spice pear on an OHxF rootstock is textbook in its cooperativeness compared to this gangly collection of beams and twigs. But, it’s healthy and productive, we both love the apples, and it’s a tolerable host to my many grafts. So it’s easy enough to make the best of it.


Yeah, I’ve got grafted branches on my only Liberty as well. Wish I liked the apple more, as varieties go it is a fruit monster.

I used to manage a site with 50 Liberty trees on M7 rootstocks on a perfect, full sun site. The apples would look pristine on a 3-spray schedule- truly grocery store perfection.

They couldn’t give the apples away- and not because they waited to long to harvest, either. There is a reason they’ve flopped here as a commercial variety.

Strange apple the way some love them and most find them entirely unappealing.

I believe they get sweeter and more flavorful further south than here in NY.

Alan, I can’t explain the discrepancy, except by assuming it has something to do with location. But we’re further north than you (than almost all of the US!) Our neighbors are either too polite to say otherwise or they genuinely like them.

They make a pretty decent cider apple too, and I like them as a pie or baked by themselves.


Mark, what are some of your other favorite apples?

I lean towards Jonagold, Jazz, Winesap, Karmijn de Sonnaville, Haralson, Macoun, Prairie Spy in addition to Liberty. But for every apple I’ve tried there are hundreds I haven’t- Kidd’s, Cox’s, Gold Rush, and so on- that I would like to. No telling what my palate would evolve to if I had the exposure.


Well that is a pretty wide range of flavors, so it’s not like you are lacking in comparisons. I originally planted Liberty because of its relationship with Macoun, and at first it seemed similar to me- just not quite as good. Then I discovered myclobutanil and decided only to grow DR’s that I liked as much as any apple. Goldrush is my staple apple as you probably know.

Funny- I took out the one gold rush I had because they were too tart so maybe it’s a taste thing- my tastes lean toward the sweet. Also we have lots of cedar here abouts and the goldrush get CAR. I found the Liberty crunchier than macouns I have had. (Couldn’t figure out your “DR’s”)

Macoun may be more a northeast apple, but it has plenty of crunch here. It gave Honeycrisp its big cell snap. However it loses it all just a few short weeks after harvest.

If you want Goldrush to be sweeter, let it sit in your fridge for a couple of months and enjoy them in Feb and March as a sweet and very crunchy apple. It is also important to wait for them to fully ripen on the tree, which may take until the end of Nov. It can take it down to about 22 degrees before losing texture and storability.

Only 2 myclobutanil sprays about 2 weeks apart starting at petal fall can control CAR (and scab).

U.S. Plant Patent 7197 and Report 225-1992 (AD-MR-5877-B) from the Horticultural Research Center indicated that the Honeycrisp was a hybrid of the apple cultivars ‘Macoun’ and ‘Honeygold’.[2] However, genetic fingerprinting conducted by a group of researchers in 2004, which included those who were later attributed on the patent, determined that neither of these cultivars is a parent of the ‘Honeycrisp’, but that the ‘Keepsake’ (another apple developed by the same University of Minnesota crossbreeding program) is one of the parents. The other parent has not been identified, but it might be a numbered selection that could have been discarded since.[1]

Keepsake is one of the parents for sure, and although they say the other is unknown, I have to think Uminn probably knows what it is.


Thanks, I will try to re-program the flesh computer with that info.

They probably came to that mis-conclusion because of Macoun’s special crunch.