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There are so many reasons to love fall—and biting into a crisp apple as the leaves start to change color is near the top of the list. That crunch doesn't last forever, but here we'll tell you how to store apples so they last as long as possible. Plus, we'll tell you how to store cut apples and how to freeze apples (and how to use them).

types of apples lined up by color and shade

How to Store Apples

Before You Get Started

It might seem logical to store your apples in a paper bag on the counter, but that actually causes apples to ripen prematurely. It traps ethylene gas, a gas given off by apples naturally that speeds up ripening. Too much of it can cause apples to spoil faster. Ethylene is also behind the old adage "one bad apple spoils the barrel"—the riper the fruit, the more gas it gives off to ripen other fruit around it. (That's also a good reminder that when you pick apples, to look out for soft spots and browning!)

All that said, you don't have to put too much thought into storing whole apples. The best place for long-term storage is the cool, dark corner of a root cellar, but since few of us have one of those, you may want to rearrange a few things in the fridge. Unlike fruits such as tomatoes, apples like the chilly air of the refrigerator. Here's how to store fresh apples in the fridge:

  1. Wipe away any debris on the apples (put off washing them until right before eating to preserve the natural wax that keeps the apple from drying out and protects it from certain fungi).
  2. Place the apple in a ventilated plastic bag and store it in the crisper drawer. If you have a prepackaged bag of apples from the grocery store, it may have holes in the bag already and you can just place the bag in the fridge as is.

Apples stored this way should stay crisp for about six weeks.

Brown Butter Apple Pie

How to Store Cut and/or Peeled Apples

If you do a lot of meal-prepping, peeling and cutting apples might be part of your routine. Here's how to store cut or peeled apples.

  1. Fill a bowl with cold water. Add about a tablespoon of lemon juice (it does not have to be fresh—you can use bottled lemon juice) to create acidulated water to keep the apples from browning.
  2. As you're cutting the apples, drop each piece of apple in the bowl of acidulated water.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.

The cut apples should remain crisp and delicious for about 2 days.

Caramel-Apple Cake

How to Freeze Apples

If you have plans to bake with apples—apple pies, apple crisp, apple cake—freezing apples is a great way to store your fresh apples. Here's how to freeze apples:

  1. Peel, core and cut apples (slice them for pie and crisps or dice them for cake or pastry filling).
  2. Place the apples on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or one lined with a silicone baking mat. Make sure the apples are not touching so they don't freeze together.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for one hour.
  4. Transfer the apples to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to three months.

When you're ready to do your baking, you can thaw the apples or you can bake with them frozen. Either way, they'll hold their shape and texture very well—particularly for apple pie filling. If you thaw them, put them in a strainer over a bowl to let the excess water drain.

Brandied Apple Strudel

How to Freeze Apple Pie Filling

If you want to make apple pie filling ahead of a big fall feast (we're thinking about you, Thanksgiving), you can freeze your apple pie filling. Here's how:

  1. Let the filling cool.
  2. Transfer to an airtight plastic container.
  3. Store in the freezer for up to six months.

To thaw the apple pie filling, transfer the container to the refrigerator and leave it there overnight.