Can anything be done with a large amount of cooking apples that have fallen early? They vary in size from golf ball to tennis ball but have fallen a couple of months before they would be expected to be ripe.

We normally have a few which fall early but this year have got a bumper crop.

Are they likely to be usable?

  • Are they very hard and sour? Jul 31, 2018 at 10:37
  • They are certainly hard but I've not tasted one yet.
    – AGB
    Jul 31, 2018 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


Yes, they are usable, at least if they have reached a minimum degree of “ripeness”.

There are a few reasons of falling fruit. The first is the so-called June drop, when the tree discards excess baby apples. These fruit are so tiny and unripe, they don’t have real value in the kitchen.

During summer, fallen fruit is closer to ripeness, especially if infected by codling moth caterpillars or in early fall, when wind causes almost-ripe fruit to drop. Just try a slice and decide whether they have enough flavor already.

These fruit can be used in the kitchen, but you need to consider a few points:

  • The fruit will be less sweet than usual - can be fixed with a spoonful or two of sugar. Likewise the flavor may be less complex than usual, adding a bit of spice will help hiding this.
  • You will have difficulties cutting neat slices. The apples will be bruised where they hit the ground and if you have moths, there will be a “channel” full of gunk that needs to be cut out. bruising and larva
  • The cooking behavior (keeping the shape vs. falling apart) may be different.
  • Higher pectin levels in underripe fruit can cause unexpected thickening.

Because you will be cutting off a comparatively large part of the apples, I would collect mainly the largest, ripest (scent and color can be an indicator) and least bruised. This should still give you a decent amount of fruit without too much work.

And you are not alone: basket

  • 1
    If you don't have that many windfalls, so you're using the underripe ones, they can be treated like crab apples, and made into jelly (though I'd use a jam thermometer unlike that recipe), which is delicious with cold meats/cheese. Nearly-ripe windfalls make good pie fillings (with the first blackberries or late blackcurrants perhaps) or chutney.
    – Chris H
    Jul 31, 2018 at 12:17
  • Great information. I was thinking of cooking down with sugar and using in tarts and crumbles. Good suggestion about blackberries @ChrisH as I've just started to see the first ones almost ripening in the local hedges :)
    – AGB
    Jul 31, 2018 at 13:13
  • 1
    If they can be treated like crab apples, then they can also be turned into chutney.
    – John Feltz
    Jul 31, 2018 at 14:16
  • Tiny unripe fruit can be used, I know it's desirable for making indian-style pickles (with a heavy load of spices and a hot/sour flavor profile, not sweet at all), especially if too young to have seeds. I've seen immature and unripe fruit like mangoes, grapes, and plums used, apples should also work. Admittedly it's a somewhat specific use :)
    – Megha
    Aug 1, 2018 at 2:16

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