Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab?

So, you’ve got scabby apples from your backyard tree that don’t look like the gorgeous fruits you picture when thinking of apples? Instead, they’ve got those brown or black lesions with a corky surface – yes, that’s what’s called an “apple scab,” in case you’re wondering! 

So what is apple scab, and can you eat apples with apple scab? Yes. If you just remove the visible scar on the surface with a knife, the rest of the apple is safe to eat. 

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Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab

However, since it’s your health in question, it’s okay to be a little paranoid. You may still be wondering, are apples with apple scab safe to eat? Naturally, you’ll want to know what it really is before enjoying your harvest to the fullest. Let’s dig deeper into the disease before deciding whether or not to toss the not-so-perfect apples in the trash. 

What Is Apple Scab?

Apple scab is a common fungal disease that affects apple trees, caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis. It’s especially prevalent in areas where spring and summers are wet and cool and affect both leaves and fruit.  

The disease overwinters in fallen leaves, branches and soil, and is spread by water splashes, wind, and rain to the leaves and blooms, especially in spring. Like all fungi, apple scab thrives in damp, rainy periods. New growth is the most susceptible to apple scab. Eventually, it will spread to the fruit, causing heavy crop losses.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to save a dying apple tree.

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The infected leaves wilt and fall, taking the fungal spores to the ground, where they’ll overwinter to return with renewed vigor next spring – and the cycle continues until you take action! 

What Does Apple Scab Look Like?

Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab

Can you eat apples with apple scab? Before deciding if an ugly apple is safe to eat, you first need to make sure if it’s really apple scab or something else that’s affected your harvest. Symptoms of apple scab will be visible on the tree leaves too, besides the fruit.

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Symptoms On The Leaves

The first signs of the disease will appear in the form of dull olive-green spots near the veins on the underside of the leaves that are closest to the buds. As the infection progresses, these spots will turn black or brown, with a velvety surface, half an inch in diameter. In later stages, the leaves can become deformed and dwarfed, turn yellow and drop early in summers.   

Symptoms On The Fruit

What does apple scab look like on the fruits? You’ll find olive-green spots on the young apples that turn black or brown as the fruit matures, and acquire a corky surface, sometimes with cracks. Fruit drop is also common in apple trees infected by apple scab. Sometimes, black lesions will only appear after apples are harvested and stored. It’s called “storage scab” and occurs when the infection attacks close to harvest. 

Are Apples With Apple Scab Safe To Eat?

Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab

The apples from an infected tree may be unsightly, but they’re safe to eat. The infection on the apples is only superficial, so if there are some scabs on the skin, you can remove them with a knife and consume the rest of the apple. 

Unlike other fungi, Venturia inaequalis does not produce the enzymes that promote the rotting of the fruit. Consequently, the lesion will most likely linger on the surface, and the inside of the fruit will be unaffected.

You already know what does apple scab look like on the fruits. If the fruit is severely infected, you may also find one or more cracks on the skins. You’ll need to be extra careful with these apples since cracks can make way for other, possibly hazardous, pathogens to enter the fruit. It’s still safe to cut around the cracked area and consume the good portion in most cases. 

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However, if an apple is badly scabby, and there isn’t much left to eat after removing the imperfections, tossing it is probably the better option. 

How To Use Apples With Apple Scab

So, now you understand what is apple scab. Can you eat apples with apple scab? It’s decided – apples with apple scab are safe to eat. However, don’t forget to peel off the ugly skin and discard it. Without the skin, the apple core is perfect for eating. However, it’s not going to be too pretty without the bright peel. If you’re not too keen on eating them fresh, look for recipes that involve peeled and cooked apples. 

They’re plenty you can try – after all, apples are the heart of countless desserts! Apple pie, apple crumble, apple sauce, apple cobbler, apple cider, apple jam, and plenty more can turn your failed harvest into a success!  

Secure Your Next Harvest From Apple Scab

Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab

While you can make do with this year’s unappetizing harvest, you wouldn’t want to go through the same trouble next year, would you?

Are apples with apple scab safe to eat? Yes. However, why not try to achieve the picture-perfect apples you see at the farmer’s market when you have a beautiful tree in your yard. Here are some things you can do to manage apple scab on your tree:

  1. Rake around the tree all year round, even when it’s not fall. Remove and discard all the fallen leaves.
  2. Yearly pruning keeps the tree healthy and free from many diseases. It aerates the crown, helping it dry quicker after a downpour and make it less welcoming to fungal spores.
  3. Add a 3 to 4-inch layer of compost around the tree, a little distance away from the trunk. This will cover the soil to prevent the spread of fungal spores from water splashes. 
  4. Although fungicides won’t treat the tree’s existing infection, spraying these on an infected tree can prevent further spread. Spray fungicide as soon as buds start forming and repeat as instructed on the package.
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Can you eat apples with apple scab? Definitely! Remove the lesions and dig in! But don’t let your next harvest fall prey to apple scab when you can have those lovely, flawless red apples you’ve always wanted to see in your orchard. 

2 thoughts on “Can You Eat Apples With Apple Scab?”

  1. My small orchard is infected with scab and I’d still like to bring them to a nearby orchard to be pressed. Will this infect the nearby orchard to press them for cider?

    • To be safe I would say no don’t take them to be pressed as apple scab is highly contagious. There is a risk the spores will get back to the orchard. You could look to press them yourself or worth mentioning it to the orchard to see if their pressing area is a suitable distance from the orchard.


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