For many people, autumn means one thing: apple season! Family and friends get together for that long-anticipated trip to the orchard to pick fresh apples, sip on cider and bite into warm cider donuts. Our favorite part? Heading home with bags and bags of apples. We love canning and making pies, but we’ll save most of the apples to eat throughout the winter.
Believe it or not, even apples we store in our basements until March are fresher than the ones in the grocery store. Store apples are doused in chemicals and stored for nearly a year before they even hit the shelves.
At home, it’s easy to preserve an apple’s life through the winter! Follow these tips on how to store apples:
1. Choose the Right Kind
Before starting the storage process, make sure the apples are ones that keep well. They should have thicker skins and harder flesh. Thinks Granny Smith, McIntosh, Golden Delicious and Fuji. Grabbing an heirloom variety? Ask the farmer or vendor how long it will keep. (Many farmers will label apples as good storage fruit.)
2. Time Your Picking
Try to pick apples before they fully ripen. It’s easy to tell how ripe an apple is; just look at its color and taste it. If it’s not yet in full color and still has a bit of tartness to it, it’s ready to be picked for storage.
3. Examine Each Apple Closely
If you see any signs of bruising, rotting or cracks, and remove these for use right away. (We love using up bruised fruits in cobblers.) These apples will not store well, and if the apples are rotting, they will give off more ethylene and make nearby apples rot as well.
4. Place Apples in a Plastic Container
It’s best to store each type of apple in its own plastic container.
5. Go the Extra Mile
It’s optional, but to further prevent any possibility of a rotten apple touching other apples, you can wrap each one in newspaper. When it’s time to eat, wash off the apple to get rid of any newspaper ink that may have transferred.
6. Store Apples in a Cool, Dry Place
Somewhere between 35 and 40 degrees is ideal. The crisping drawer of a refrigerator works best, but if there’s not enough refrigerator space available, a garage, shed, or other sheltered outdoor area is fine. But it is extremely important to not let the apples freeze! This breaks down their cells, and they will become mushy when thawed.
7. Check Frequently
Make sure none have succumbed to any sort of rotting or bruising; remove any that are starting to go.
8. Use ‘Em Up
Once apples hit room temperature, they’ll ripen and spoil more quickly, so use them fast. Find our favorite apple recipes right here.