Apple Processing

One medium apple = 3/4 cup of apple juice or 1/2 cup of applesauce 1 1/4 apple = one serving of apple juice (8 oz. or 240 ml) = 120 calories

In 2007, the average U.S. consumer ate an estimated 17.7 pounds of fresh apples, and 29.4 pounds of processed apples, for a total of 47.1 pounds of apples and apple products. In 2003, average per-capita consumption was 46.5 pounds of apples and apple products.

Sixty-seven percent of the 2007 U.S. apple crop was eaten as fresh fruit, 32 percent was processed into apple products, and less than 1 percent was not marketed.

Of the apples that were processed, 42 percent were used for juice and cider; 7 percent were dried; 6 percent were frozen; almost 7 percent were used to make fresh apple slices and 35 percent were canned. Other uses included baby food, apple butter or jelly, and vinegar.


From the Apple Tree to Apple Juice...
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Apple Harvesting!

Due to the diverse variety of apples, harvesting occurs at different times throughout the year. Most apples in the U.S., however, are harvested in the fall (between August and October).

Before harvesting occurs, apples must be tested for "maturity" to determine if they're ready to be picked. This process allows consumers to receive fresh apples of the highest quality and for processors to select only the ripest apples for apple juice and applesauce. Apples that are harvested too early may taste sour or starchy, and apples harvested too late may be soft.

To determine maturity, many characteristics of the apples are checked prior to picking.

  • Amount of sugar
  • Firmness
  • Seed
  • Skin color

Once the apples are confirmed to be "mature," they are picked (mostly by hand, although some mechanical methods have been developed). The apples are then placed in canvas bags or lined buckets inside of large bins. These apple-filled bins are picked up by a forklift, loaded onto a truck and transported to a central loading area - where apples that are bruised, cut or have insect or disease problems are immediately removed. The remaining apples are stored immediately to ensure maximum storage life.

The apples are now ready for the trip to your local grocery store or to be used in everyones favorite's: APPLE JUICE and APPLESAUCE.

What a "Process!"
Just like apples that are delivered fresh to your local grocery store, apples that are processed to make apple juice, applesauce and other apple products are picked at their optimum maturity. Only high quality, ripe apples will do! Apples that are an "off" shape or appear to have "skin blemishes" may not be ideal for the produce department - but they are perfectly suitable for processing.

Apple Processing

As new technologies are developed, the guidelines are updated to allow the industry to produce the best possible products.

The first step in any processing procedure is handling of the raw fruit. During this most critical step, there is a visual inspection of all apples by a trained inspector for "integrity and sanitary condition" and random testing for spray residues or mold. Apples not meeting processing standards should be rejected and appropriate personnel informed.

Before raw apples are processed into apple juice, cider or sauce, they are put through a handling process designed to remove external surface dirt and topical chemical residues. These apples are then water-washed before processing. This water wash is sometimes accomplished as the fruit is water flumed from receiving stations to processing lines. Alternately, fruit is transported by dry conveyers through water sprays or scrubbers before processing. Most processing lines employ both techniques.

Water used in the flumes or receiving pits is often recirculated and periodically changed or refreshed. Processors sometimes add chlorine dioxide, hypochlorite or other chlorine compound to control microbial buildup in recirculated water. Apples stay in water flumes or baths for as little as one to two minutes, or as long as 30 - 45 minutes. Most flumes accomplish apple conveyance to processing lines in less than 10 minutes.

Many processors employ high pressure fresh water sprays, sometimes at several points before the fruit enters the processing line. These sprays provide a more vigorous cleaning, and are sometimes used along with mechanical scrubbers, brushes, or bristle rollers to remove surface dirt. Apples are exposed to fresh water sprays for an average of 5 - 10 seconds. Cleaning compounds are not used in water sprays.

The cleaned apples are now ready to be processed into juice. Using various methods, the juice is extracted from the apples and heat-treated (pasteurized) to kill any microorganisms that might be present. This heat treatment also helps improve the overall clarity of the apple juice. Before being placed in the appropriate container (such as bottles), the juice may be further filtered and given an additional heat treatment to assure safety.

Once the apples are cleaned and processed into apple juice or applesauce, they then are subject to analysis using sophisticated, government-approved testing methods that can monitor for even trace amounts of pesticide residues (or other agrichemicals). Apple processors employ strict testing procedures, both in-house and through independent testing laboratories, to ensure the highest quality, purity and safety of their products. Even though apples undergo vigorous cleaning processes, it is possible that some residues may remain after processing. However, the amounts are so small as to be considered insignificant by strict government standards.

Apple processors are committed to providing products that meet the highest possible standards for safety. This is important to know since the health and well-being of both children and adults is paramount to the apple industry and always has been. Apple juice and applesauce are wholesome fruit products that contribute a wide variety of nutrients to the diet.

It also should be known that leading health and scientific organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, the National Institutes of Health, and National Academy of Sciences all agree that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the most healthful that children and adults can consume.