October 6, 2014 – In honor of National Apple Month, we sat down with our friends at Superfresh Growers to get the inside scoop on the apples they supply for some of your very own ALDI stores. From planting and harvesting to sorting and cooking, we’re dishing out the details.
Planting Apple Trees
Spring is the best time for planting new orchards. The ground is prepared by clearing it of old orchard or sagebrush (a type of shrub). Once the soil is ready, a large tractor opens a trench in the ground, a tree is set in and covered with soil.
Once the trees are planted, the trellis system uses large polls and wire to tie the tree and several of its branches up. This supports the tree when it’s full of fruit, helps keep it from being damaged during windy days and gets the most light to the apples to keep them colorful.
Most apples are harvested by hand in the late summer and fall of each season, but some varieties can be harvested in late July (Gala) and even into the first weeks of November (Fiji and Pink Lady). Apples are picked and placed into pouches that are worn by the harvesters – each holding about 50 lbs. of apples.
The apples are quickly transported to cooling facilities. Once an order is placed, they are removed from the cooler and sent through a packing line where each apple is thoroughly cleaned, hand-sorted and sent through a machine with a powerful high-speed camera that takes up to 30 pictures of each apple per second to determine size, shape and color for uniform packages of fruit.
Selecting the Perfect ALDI Apple
Careful orchard management and best-in-class horticultural practices led by the chief horticulturalist ensure that the orchards are producing delicious, healthy fruit. In the packing house, machines determine the size and grade of each apple. If there are too many blemishes or not enough color, the apples are diverted to processor companies for use in apple sauce, juice and other processed foods. Each apple is hand sorted and inspected by Superfresh Growers apple experts.
Did you learn something new today? Tell us how you are celebrating National Apple Month in the comments below!