According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you pick an apple off a tree, it’ll last a few weeks before it starts to soften and rot. But if you store an entire harvest under “controlled-atmosphere conditions,” it’ll last up to 10 months.
So, when you buy fruit at the grocery store, the produce may not be as fresh as you expect. “Apples are harvested once a year in the U.S.,” says Alisha Albinder, a fourth-generation fruit grower. “If you’re eating a New York apple not in the fall, then it’s safe to say that it’s been in storage.”