How to Store Apples
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.
How to Choose the Freshest, Longest-Lasting Apples
Avoid apples with soft spots, bruises, browning and holes or tears in the skin. Look for apples that are smooth, unwrinkled and free of blemishes. In general, when you squeeze the apple, it should be firm but not rock solid, and no liquid should ooze out. Since apples come in different colors, select the ones with bright, vibrant-looking skin. When sniffed, they should smell pleasantly fruity with no trace of rottenness or dankness.
An apple with its stem intact tends to last longer than an apple without a stem because unwanted fungi or bacteria could enter the apple where the stem used to be. This may lead to spoilage and wasted apples.
Finally, if you can purchase your apples directly from an orchard or farmers' market, they will likely last longer. Apples from supermarkets may have spent a great deal of time in commercial storage and shipping containers before they even hit the shelves of your local chain, let alone your crisper drawer.
How to Store Apples So They Stay Fresh
It might seem logical to store apples in a paper bag on the counter, but that actually causes apples to ripen and spoil more rapidly. This method traps the ethylene gas that apples naturally emit. Too much of it can cause apples to go bad faster than they normally would. Ethylene is responsible for the old adage "one bad apple spoils the barrel." The riper the fruit, the more gas it gives off, affecting the other apples around it.
All that said, you don't have to put too much thought into storing whole apples. If you're going to eat or cook your apples within two to three days of purchase, you can store them unrefrigerated in a cool, dry, ventilated spot in your kitchen away from direct light.
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:
- 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).
- Place the apples in a 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 crisper as is.
Apples stored this way should stay crisp for about six weeks.
How to Store Cut and/or Peeled Apples
Fruits like pears, bananas, avocados and apples are not the best candidates for slicing ahead of time since they brown quickly, but If you do a lot of meal-prepping, knowing how to properly store cut and/or peeled apples may be useful. Here's how to do it:
- 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.
- As you're cutting the apples, drop each piece of apple in the bowl of acidulated water.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
The cut apples should remain crisp and delicious for about two days.
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:
- Peel, core and cut the apples (slice them for pie and crisps, or dice them for cake or pastry filling).
- 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.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer for one hour.
- 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 in the fridge 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.
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:
- Let the filling cool.
- Transfer to an airtight plastic container.
- 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.
While apples will last a few days unrefrigerated, they can last for weeks in your refrigerator's crisper drawer or even months in the freezer. So stock up on apples and put them to good use, like in these 23 Healthy Apple Recipes to Keep You Warm & Cozy This Fall.