`Gala' apples were harvested at weekly intervals for 6 weeks, refrigerated at 0C, and evaluated by a consumer panel monthly over a 6 month period for overall liking, firmness, sweetness, tartness and flavor intensities. Firmness, titratable acidity and soluble solids concentration were also measured. Initial analysis of sensory data revealed multicollinearity for overall liking, sweetness, and flavor. The five descriptors explained 75 % of the dataset variation in the first two factors. An orthogonal rotation separated overall liking, flavor and sweetness, and firmness and tartness into two independent factors. The distribution of mean scores along these independent factors showed that panelists could perceive changes due to ripening and maturation. The multivariate factor analysis was better than univariate ANOVA at illustrating how apple maturity stages were apparent to untrained panelists. Firmness was the only instrumental variable correlated to firmness ratings in the sensory tests. None of the analytical measurements could explain overall liking.