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Brix testing on the tree

Posted by Karen Brindle 
Brix testing on the tree
November 15, 2018 12:54PM
How do you all test for ripeness? I've found this on Amazon, Atago 5455 PAL-Hikari 5 (Apple) Brix Meter, but having a hard time justifying $800. It's important that we supply cider apples to the brewery that have maximum sugar. This device looks really handy because it does not require cutting a bunch of apples up and using iodine. Any thoughts?

VistaRidge orchard, Quilcene, WA zone 8a est. 2012
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
Re: Brix testing on the tree
November 15, 2018 01:19PM
There is no good single way to test for fruit ripeness.

Brix - can be measured with a refractometer like the Atago you're looking at.

Starch - iodine can be used to determine the degree of starch conversion to sugars.

Seed color - the darker the seeds, the "riper" the fruit.

Acidity - acidity drops as fruit gets riper, so if you measure and can follow through the ripenign period, then you can get an idea of when the fruit getting towards full ripeness.

Ethylene - if you are lucky to have access to a gas chromatograph, you can take an air sample of the fruit core with a syringe, inject it in the GC and measure the amount of ethylene in the fruit. And like acidity, you can follow this through the ripening period. The higher the ethylene, the riper the fruit - simply stated.

Fruit color - sometimes darker, redder fruit is considered to be riper.

In reality, these used together are all good ways to determine ripeness. From a cider perspective, the use of brix, starch, and acidity are the best way to determine when fruit is ready/ripe. However, the best way is to taste the fruit!

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Brix testing on the tree
November 15, 2018 02:05PM
Karen Brindle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do you all test for ripeness? I've found this
> on Amazon, Atago 5455 PAL-Hikari 5 (Apple) Brix
> Meter, but having a hard time justifying $800.

I must say this meter does look extremely handy as it permits to have the Brix without pressing a drop of juice out of the apple. But as you say the 800$ is an issue.
Normal optical refractometer (i.e. those that are NOT digital) run for a much more resonable cost (under 100$). It requires that you also have a knife and a small garlic press to extract a drop of juice. Mind you, once you have picked the apple, you can then eat the rest of it, which will give you another indication on its ripeness, and you can finally inspect the seeds.

The other important thing is if those apples are destined to a cidery, they should be left to sweat for sometime before they are pressed. This sweating period normally takes care of the final ripening.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Brix testing on the tree
December 02, 2018 11:27AM
Here's a follow up question. How many apples per tree do you all sample before harvest?

Ideally, of course, each apple has the same growing conditions. And of course, that is a hilarious ideal (for my crazy trees, at least). So I tend to sample at least 2-3 fruit / tree, sometimes more. But I'm curious what other folks do.

Earthworks
Zone 7a in West-Central MD
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