Last week I had the pleasure of touring the Rainier Fruit Company headquarters in Yakima, Washington. They produce all kinds of delicious fresh fruit including blueberries, cherries, wine grapes, and apples. I have never completely understood how large-scale farms are able to get us fresh-tasting fruit from their orchards so quickly, but this visit showed me exactly how it is done. I was thrilled to learn how fruit is carefully processed so it arrives to stores are fresh as possible. One of my favorite sites of the tour was the apple orchard. They grow them organically and use such interesting farming methods! Here’s a look at how apples get from the orchard to your grocery store!
Disclosure: My trip was sponsored by the Rainier Fruit Company. The opinions and photographs in this article are entirely my own.
Fresh Apples: From Orchard to Store 1 of 11
Vast Apple Orchards 2 of 11
The Rainier Fruit Company has numerous apple orchards and grows multiple varieties. Here is a view of the orchards that are just along the Columbia River.
An Apple Ripening 3 of 11
These apples are not yet ripe. They will likely ripen in September. Each day the farmers test the apples for sugar density and color to make sure they are growing well. If they sense something is off, they may make adjustments in their watering or picking schedule.
Trellised Trees 4 of 11
The Rainier Fruit Company trellises their apple trees. This means the branches are trained along wires to ensure maximum sun exposure. This also helps take the guess work out of trimming apple branches and makes picking them much easy and safe.
Boxes of Apples 5 of 11
When the apples are picked, they arrive at the warehouse in these large wooden boxes. They are immediately cooled down to slow the ripening process while they are being packaged.
Apples Take a Bath! 6 of 11
Each box of apples is carefully dumped into a bath of water to be cleaned. This also helps get rid of any leaves or insects that may have tagged along in the boxes.
Shiny Apples! 7 of 11
When the apples get washed, they become nice and shiny — ready to take their place in your grocery store!
Sorted by Color 8 of 11
Along the water bath route, apples are sorted by color. This ensures they will all be grouped in similar bags when they are sold to maintain consistency!
Apples Get Dried 9 of 11
After being washed, apples are dried off — but not by human hands! Because they're delicate and easy-to-bruise at this point, fans are used instead.
On the Conveyer Belt 10 of 11
Along the conveyer belt apples are sorted by weight, shape, and color. Any apples deemed unsuitable for sale are sent to be made into applesauce or apple juice.
Apples Get Bagged 11 of 11
Here, workers do a final apple sort, and bag the apples to be sold at the store!