This is the gross truth about the apples you’re buying at the supermarket

You can’t go wrong with apples, right? They’re great for you, they’re tasty, and they have lots of surprising uses that don’t involve eating. Well, it turns out that this classic fruit might be hiding an unappetizing secret.

If you buy apples at the grocery store, you probably don’t question how the fruit gets from the apple tree to the produce section. It turns out that that path is not quite as direct as you might think. In the United States, apples are only harvested once a year: from August to November. That’s it. So if you’re eating an apple in the winter, spring, or summer, and that apple came from the supermarket, it was picked the previous fall—as long as 10 months ago, if it’s July. (Not too grossed out yet? Here are 13 more things your grocer won’t tell you.)

So how do fruit growers possibly keep these apples fresh for that long? Well, they refrigerate them, and there’s two different ways they do it, depending on how long they want the apples to last. The growers put the apples that will be sold by December into refrigeration warehouses, which have a temperature between 34 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. This keeps them fresh until it’s time to ship them to a grocery store to be sold.

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How to store every single type of fruit
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How to store every single type of fruit

Apples

How to Store: As soon as you bring them home, stash ‘em in the fridge. They should be good for up to three weeks.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Cover the remaining half (or slices) in tightly pressed plastic wrap and stick the apple back in the fridge. This will help prevent browning, which is caused by oxidation.

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Pears

How to Store: You should refrigerate them for a shelf life of about five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Same deal as apples, cover the slices with plastic wrap.

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Avocados

How to Store: Pop them in the fridge as soon as they’re ripe. That way, they’ll keep for about three days. (If they’re not ripe, store them on the counter.)

If You’ve Eaten Some: Brush lemon juice on the uneaten half to prevent it from browning, the press plastic wrap against the surface before putting it in the fridge.

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Bananas

How to Store: These can sit on your countertop and should stay fresh for about five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Ideally, the uneaten half is still in the peel. If it is, just wrap the exposed end with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge.

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Grapes

How to Store: Stick them in a bowl (or ventilated bag, like the one they come in) in the fridge and they should stay fresh for up to a week.

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Raspberries

How to Store: To maximize their shelf life, you should remove the bad ones from the carton first, then lay them out on a paper towel-lined plate in your fridge. This way, they should keep for three to four days.

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Blackberries

How to Store: Ditto the raspberries.

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Tomatoes

How to Store: You can store these guys in the fridge, just let them come up to room temperature before you eat them. (They should stay fresh for about a week.)

If You’ve Eaten Some: It’s best to store them in the fridge with the cut side down on a paper towel inside Tupperware.

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Melons

How to Store: Keep it in the fridge and it should last for a week or more.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Keep any sliced up leftovers in a plastic dish covered with plastic wrap.

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Mangoes

How to Store: Fridge storage is best to keep them fresh for about four days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: It’s fine to keep chopped up mangoes in a plastic bag in the fridge.

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Blueberries

How to Store: Get rid of any overripe berries, then keep them in their original plastic container inside the fridge. (They should last a full week.)

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Cherries

How to Store: Stick them in a bowl and keep them inside the fridge for a three-day shelf life.

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Oranges

How to Store: Just set them in a bowl on your countertop and they should stay fresh for a week or more.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Keep any uneaten slices in a plastic baggie.

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Grapefruit

How to Store: Just like oranges, this can also rest on your countertop for about a week for maximum freshness.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Store leftovers (plus, whatever juice you can save) in a plastic container.

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Kiwi

How to Store: Tuck them in the fridge and they should last three to four days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

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Peaches

How to Store: If they’re ripe, pop them in the fridge and they should keep for five days.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Ideally, you can slice it up and keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Pineapple

How to Store: If it’s whole, keep it on the countertop and it will keep for five days. But if it’s sliced, you should keep it in the fridge.

If You’ve Eaten Some: Cover it in plastic wrap.

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Strawberries

How to Store: Just like blueberries, you should get rid of any gross-looking berries first, then store them in perforated container (like the one they came in). 

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But… what about the apples whose sell dates are after December, but before the next harvest season? These fruits go into what’s known as CA, or Controlled Atmosphere storage. Here, the apples sit in a sort of stasis—the temperature is low, and oxygen levels are at a mere 2 percent (as opposed to the 21 percent in the air we breathe). The low oxygen levels keep the apples from ripening; some growers call it “putting them to sleep.” There they stay until it’s time to sell them.

Before you panic, though, this doesn’t mean these apples are bad for you in any way. Though keeping them in this low-oxygen area does leach away some of the fruit’s acidity, the taste—and overall nutritional content—should be unaffected. This process “doesn’t do very much to vitamin or mineral content,” according to James Mattheis of the United States Department of Agriculture.

However, if the idea of eating nearly year-old apples still makes you squirm, buy them locally grown or pick them yourself. The fruit that keeps the doc away is nutritious either way—and their smell could actually help you lose weight!

[Sources: The Huffington Post, Business Insider]

19 PHOTOS
World's healthiest vegetables
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World's healthiest vegetables

18. Romaine lettuce

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17. Artichokes

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16. Cauliflower

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15. Green pepper

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14. Tomato

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13. Corn on the cob

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12. Okra

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11. Carrot

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10. Green peas

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9. Cabbage (raw)

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8. Brussel sprouts

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7. Winter squash (baked)

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6. Broccoli

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5. Mixed vegetables

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4. Kale

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3. Spinach

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2. Potato, baked

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1. Sweet potato

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