Fresh Fruit FAQs

What does Stemilt mean?

Answer: “Stemilt” is a Native American word for “coming from the mountains” or “foothills to the mountains.” Learn more about what goes into a name.

 

Can I buy Stemilt fruit direct?

Answer: Yes. Stemilt has a gift fruit website – Sincerely Fresh – that allows you to purchase our premium-quality apples, pears, cherries, peaches and nectarines direct to any doorstep in the U.S. Visit www.sincerelyfresh.com to order or learn more.

What is Organic?

Answer: Organic refers to the way agriculture products (including food and fiber) are grown and packed. It is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes the soil without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Outside the farm, organic products are minimally processed without artificial ingredients.

 

How is an orchard certified to harvest organic fruit?

Answer: The USDA governs the National Organic Program. In order to be a producer of organic fruit, you must have a current organic certificate. The USDA (or like state agency) does an annual inspection of your orchard to issue these.

It takes three consecutive crop seasons of farming an orchard organically in order to be eligible for an organic certificate.

 

How does Stemilt prevent co-mingling of conventional and organic fruit at its packing facility?

Answer: Just like the farm, packing facilities that run organic fruit must also be inspected annually in order to achieve a certificate from the USDA. This certification means strict measures are in place to prevent co-mingling of organic and conventional fruit. At Stemilt, organic bins are clearly marked at the time of receiving. We also don’t pack organic and conventional fruit on the same line, at the same time. This ensures organic fruit gets packed according to organic packing standards, and is identified correctly in its final packaging.

 

Does Stemilt apply wax to organic apples?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not apply wax to its organic apples. The reason that Artisan Organic apples may look like they have been waxed is because all apples produce a natural wax. This wax is present when the fruit is picked from the tree, but is removed from the fruit as it is washed and scrubbed on the packing line. After apples are packed and ready to go to market, they will begin the process of putting out a natural wax from within the cuticles in their skin. This is known as “re-waxing” and is more prevalent in organic apples because they do not have a food grade wax coating applied to them (the wax coating impedes the ability of the cuticles to push out the natural wax). Producing this natural wax helps the apple protect itself both in nature and on store shelves. Organic apples may appear waxed and possibly oily or greasy because of that natural wax. Re-waxing occurs more often when apples are left out of refrigeration. Natural wax does not alter the flavor of the fruit and is completely safe to consume. We always recommend washing fruit prior to eating, and in this case, the natural wax can be washed off with a drop of dish/kitchen soap and warm water.

 

I spotted a white residue on the stem bowl of my organic apples or organic pears. What is that?

Answer: This is Kaolin clay, a natural material that we apply to protect organic apples or pears from sun damage. The clay reflects the sun and prevents the fruit from getting sunburned (yes, fruit can get sunburned too!). It’s usually washed off the fruit during packing, but some residue can be left behind in the stem/bottom ends of the fruit where brushes don’t reach.

 

Are Artisan Organics fruits GMO (genetically modified organism)?

Answer: No, and in fact, Stemilt does not use GM (genetically modified) plant material to produce any apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, or apricots. New varieties of fruit are created through traditional cross-pollination methods which brings the best attributes of the parent varieties to create a new variety.

 

How do I know my fruits are indeed organic?

Answer: At Stemilt, that’s easy. We pack our organic fruits under the Artisan Organics label. Also, if the sticker on your fruit has a leading “9” before the four digits, it is organic.

organics-PLU

 

I bought Artisan Organics fruit but it looks too nice to be organic. Is it really organic?

Answer: Yes, as long as the packaging or sticker denotes the product as organic, it is organic. Organic farming practices have come a long way over the past two-plus decades we’ve been farming fruit organically. You should expect the same great quality, flavors, size, and appearance of our organic fruits as you would our conventionally grown fruits.

 

Do the stickers on your fruit compromise the fruit’s organic status?

Answer: No, the stickers are not intended for consumption and therefore, do not compromise the organic status. The label material and food contact grade adhesive used is compliant with USDA’s Food and Drugs Act.

How do I store Stemilt apples for optimum quality?

Answer: First, shop for firm and shiny apples. Then, place unwashed apples in your refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Make sure the temperature is set at or slightly above 32°F. Be sure to store apples away from other fragrant fresh produce (such as onions) in order to prevent the odor from altering the taste of the fruit. Wash the fruit prior to eating. You can also store apples in a cool garage if you bought more than your refrigerator can handle.

 

Why can I buy apples that are harvested in the fall most months of the year?

Answer: Stemilt apples are harvested in Washington State between August and early November, yet many varieties are available into the spring and summer. Some even go year-round! This is possible because of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage technology. Apples that have high starch-to-sugar ratios and other high quality indicators are put into CA rooms at harvest. Temperature and humidity are constantly monitored in these cold rooms, and the fruit remains there until it is time for them to be packed. The cold room puts the apple to sleep, which prevents the fruit from converting starches to sugars. Once out of the rooms, that conversion starts again. The result is crisp, juicy and flavorful apples available to you into the spring and summer.

 

Why is there wax on conventional apples?

Answer: Freshly harvested apples have a natural wax coating that protects them from shriveling and weight loss. Unfortunately, this natural wax is removed, as every apple is washed and scrubbed prior to packing. On conventional apples, Stemilt replaces the natural wax with a thin layer of food-grade wax. Organic apples do not have an applied wax.

The wax added to protect Stemilt’s Washington-grown apples is usually carnauba- or shellac-based. Both are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have been used on a variety of foods for decades. These wax formulations are natural, nonpetroleum-based coatings, with no known allergens as ingredients.

Research has shown that apple waxing prevents moisture loss, enhances firmness retention and slows the apple respiration rate. As little as one pound of waxy coating will cover approximately 160,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables, according to the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. Only a drop or two of wax is needed to give a Stemilt apple the protective coating that helps keep the fruit’s crisp texture.

 

How do I remove the wax on conventional apples?

Answer: You actually do not need to remove the wax in order to eat your apples. It is safe to consume. The only way to remove the wax completely is to peel the apple. We do not recommend this because the peel contains most of the fruit’s valuable nutrients. Using fruit and vegetable wash on your fruit prior to eating and scrubbing the fruit gently with a brush may remove some of the wax. You can also purchase Stemilt’s Artisan Organics organic apples, which do not have an applied wax on them.

 

Why does the surface of my apple have white flecks on it?

Answer: Whether it is natural or applied, wax may whiten on the surface of fruits or vegetables if they have been subjected to excessive heat and/or excessive moisture. This whitening or chalky appearance is similar to what happens to a candy bar when you place it in the freezer.

 

I spotted a white residue on the stem bowl of my apples. What is that?

Answer: This is Kaolin clay, a natural material that we apply to protect apples from sun damage. The clay reflects the sun and prevents the fruit from getting sunburned (yes, fruit can get sunburned too!). It’s usually washed off the fruit during packing, but some residue can be left behind in the stem/bottom ends of the fruit where brushes don’t reach.

 

Are your apples dyed?

Answer: No, we do not dye apples, or any of our fruits. Occasionally, the apple skin will bleed into the flesh (appearing pink or red). This is most common with deep red varieties like Red Delicious or Rome.

 

Are Stemilt fruits GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not use GM (genetically modified) seed to produce apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines or apricots. New varieties of fruit are created through traditional cross-pollination methods that bring the best attributes of the parent varieties to create a new apple. For instance, the popular Honeycrisp apple was created by cross-pollinating Keepsake with an unknown variety from the University of Minnesota.

 

Can I buy apple trees from you?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not sell apple trees. This includes niche varieties like Piñata® and SweeTango®. We recommend that you contact your local nursery to see which varieties work best in your growing region.

 

I want to plant my apple seeds. Will it result in a tree and edible fruits?

Answer: Probably not. Planting seeds may result in a tree, but it probably won’t produce edible fruits. That’s because fruit trees are grown by grafting a specific variety onto an established rootstock. It’s quite a complex process. Planting from a seed also won’t get you the variety you are after; you get a plant with a unique set of DNA. The best way to grow your own apples would be to purchase a tree from a local nursery.

 

What does “USA/E-U.A.” on your fruit bags or stickers mean?

Answer: E-U.A. is the French translation for USA. We must translate labels into French in order to ship our fruits to Canada. The country of origin for all of Stemilt’s fruits is the United States. We farm apples, pears, cherries and summer fruits in Washington, and also grow cherries in California. Some of our packaging is bilingual in order to ship into Canadian provinces where French is spoken.

Why can I buy pears that are harvested in the fall during the spring and summer months?

Answer: Stemilt pears are harvested in Washington State between August and October, and a few winter pear varieties are available into the spring and summer. This is possible because of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage technology. Pears with high quality indicators at harvest are put into CA rooms. Temperature and humidity are constantly monitored in these cold rooms, and the fruit remains there until it is on order. The cold temperatures put pears to sleep and prevents the pears from ripening. The same great-tasting pears from the summer and fall are now available in the spring and summer months.

 

What are ripened pears – don’t they come off the tree ripe already? 

Answer: Pears are harvested mature, but do not fully ripen on the tree. If growers harvested them ripe, they would be overripe by the time they made it to your stores. Some varieties, like Bartlett, change color as they ripen. However, because most varieties do not change color as they ripen, it is difficult to tell when they are ready to eat. To assist you with this process, Stemilt pre-ripens some pears (including the d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou varieties) before shipping them to stores. We follow a similar process that banana producers use to ripen their fruits. Pallets of pears are put into ripening rooms where the temperature rises, and a naturally occurring gas (ethelyne) is released to induce ripening. Pears reach stores at optimum pressures at the just-starting-to-ripen stage, which allows you to enjoy them a day or two after purchase.

 

How do I tell if my Stemilt pears are ripe?

Answer: Pears ripen from the inside out, so the best way to check for ripeness is to “check the neck.” To do this, gently press near the stem with your thumb. When it gives to gentle pressure, it is ripe and ready to eat. Read more about how to ripen pears on our blog.

 

How long will pears keep in the fridge?

Answer: Ripe pears will generally keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Unripe fruit may keep for a week, or more. Keep in mind that pears will not ripen properly inside the fridge.

 

I spotted a white residue on the stem bowl of my pears. What is that?

Answer: This is Kaolin clay, a natural material that we apply to protect the pears from sun damage. The clay reflects the sun and prevents pears from getting sunburned (yes, fruit can get sunburned too!). It’s usually washed off the fruit during packing, but some residue can be left behind in the stem/bottom ends of the fruit where brushes don’t reach.

 

Are Stemilt fruits GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not use GM (genetically modified) seed to produce apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines or apricots. New varieties of fruit are created through traditional cross-pollination methods that bring the best attributes of the parent varieties to create a new pear. For instance, Concorde pears are a cross between the Conference and Comice varieties.

 

What does USA/E-U.A. on your fruit bags or stickers mean?

Answer: E-U.A. is the French translation for USA. We must translate labels into French in order to ship our fruits to Canada. The country of origin for all of Stemilt’s fruits is the United States. We farm apples, pears, cherries and summer fruits in Washington, and also grow cherries in California. Some of our packaging is bilingual in order to ship into Canadian provinces where French is spoken.

What should I look for when selecting cherries?

Answer: Look for cherries with green stems that are still attached to the fruit. A green stem indicates that the cherry is relatively fresh off the tree. Additionally, stem attachment helps maintain the freshness of the fruit. Next, check the color of the fruit. Ripe cherries range in color from dark red to mahogany. Rainier cherries and Skylar Rae® brand cherries are exceptions – they have a yellow background with a slight to full pink-red blush. Then, test the fruit’s firmness by gently squeezing the fruit between your thumb and index finger. The fruit should be firm to the touch. Finally, check the overall appearance of your cherries. Great-tasting cherries are plump, with smooth, shiny and unblemished skin.

 

How do I store my Stemilt cherries at home?

Answer: Store your Stemilt sweet cherries unwashed and uncovered (or in the packaging they came in) in the coldest part of your refrigerator. When kept refrigerated, fresh cherries will keep for up to 7 days. Be sure to keep cherries away from strong-smelling foods, as cherries can take on the odor of these foods. Rinse cherries under cold water before eating.

 

I noticed light brown spots on my Rainier or Skylar Rae® brand cherries. What are they?

Answer: The light skin and delicate nature of Rainier and Skylar Rae® brand cherries occasionally leaves light brown spots on the skin. Though it looks like one, this is not a flaw, but actually an extra-sweet sugar spot. Enjoy!

 

Are Stemilt fruits GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not use GM (genetically modified) seed to produce apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines or apricots. New varieties of fruit are created through traditional cross-pollination methods that bring the best attributes of the parent varieties to create a new cherry. For instance, the popular Rainier cherry is a cross between the Bing and Van varieties.

 

I want to plant the pits from your cherries. Will it result in a tree and edible fruits?

Answer: Probably not. Planting seeds may result in a tree, but it probably won’t produce edible fruits. That’s because fruit trees are grown by grafting a specific variety onto an established rootstock. It’s quite a complex process. Planting from a seed also won’t get you the variety you are after; you get a plant with a unique set of DNA. The best way to grow your own cherries would be to purchase a tree from a local nursery.

 

What does USA/E-U.A. on your fruit bags or stickers mean?

Answer: E-U.A. is the French translation for USA. We must translate labels into French in order to ship our fruits to Canada. The country of origin for all of Stemilt’s fruits is the United States. We farm apples, pears, cherries and summer fruits in Washington, and also grow cherries in California. Some of our packaging is bilingual in order to ship into Canadian provinces where French is spoken.

What should I look for when selecting stone fruits?

Answer: First, look for tree-ripened fruits. Stone fruit is unique in that it will not get sweeter after being picked. It will become softer and juicier, but the best fruits are ones that have fully matured on the tree. Ripe peaches and nectarines will have a pleasant, sweet aroma, and the fruit should be free of bruises and blemishes. The fruit will have a yellow-orange or white background color, with a red blush covering most of the fruit.

 

The peaches and nectarines I purchased are too firm to eat. What should I do?

Answer: If your stone fruit is too firm, allow it to soften at room temperature in a paper bag or on your counter for a day or two. Once it has softened to your preference, store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it.

 

What is the difference between white and yellow peaches or nectarines?

Answer: The white variety typically has a pale-colored flesh and exterior compared with the yellow variety. White peaches and nectarines are also slightly sweeter, because the fruit has lower acid levels. Both varieties taste great and can be used for a number of different dishes.

 

Are Stemilt fruits GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?

Answer: No, Stemilt does not use GM (genetically modified) seed to produce apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines or apricots. New varieties of fruit are created through traditional cross-pollination methods that brings the best attributes of the parent varieties to create a new variety.

 

What does USA/ E-U.A. on your fruit stickers mean?

Answer: E-U.A. is the French translation for USA. We must translate labels into French in order to ship our fruits to Canada. The country of origin for all of Stemilt’s fruits is the United States. We farm apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines and apricots in Washington, and also grow cherries in California. Some of our packaging is bilingual in order to ship into Canadian provinces where French is spoken.

 

Are your summer fruits organic?

Answer: Yes, all of our peaches and nectarines are grown and certified organic. We sell them under our Artisan Organics label. The majority of our apricots are grown and certified organic, but we have conventional apricots as well.