With the coming winter, there's something reassuring about a well-stocked pantry.
And when it has an ample supply of apples for fresh eating and turning into hot baked goods, that reassurance is especially sweet.
However, if you want your harvest of native apples to last for as long as possible and retain their delicious taste and crispy texture, it is important to keep them in ideal conditions.
You have a few options for storing fresh apples, and you can even canned some of your harvest. In this article, I'll cover these different options.
Here's an overview of what's to come:
When considering whether to store or canned a fresh supply of apples, you need to be realistic about how well they can be kept.
This is what I mean:
Some strains hold up much better than others.
In general, thick-skinned and tart varieties last better and longer than thin-skinned and sweet varieties. When you have a few different strains, knowing which ones to store long term and which to enjoy in the coming weeks can help you decide.
In addition, varieties with a later harvest date are usually easier to store.
Some of the best long keeper strains are Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Northern Spy, and Winesap – and there are plenty of other strains that keep great for months.
To check how well the variety you grow can be stored, see Tom Burford's book "Apples of North America: Exceptional Varieties for Gardeners, Growers, and Cooks".
Apples from North America: Extraordinary varieties for gardeners, growers and cooks
This book contains information on 192 different varieties, and you can Get a copy on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.
If you're growing a variety that usually doesn't keep well over the long term, consider putting some varieties in the refrigerator to eat fresh and saving the rest. I'll have suggestions on how to do this later in this article.
Learn more about different apple varieties in our guide.
Not bad apples
Fresh storage is a good idea for pristine apples and definitely not a good idea for bad ones.
You know this saying – one bad apple spoils the pile. Just as this expression is so often true in the figurative sense, it is also true in the literal sense.
The reason for this is that these fruits give off a ripening gas called ethylene.
And the more ripe the apple, the more ethylene it emits.
Defective, bruised or otherwise endangered apples give off more ethylene than flawless apples. When saved together, the Gas emitted from a bad one will accelerate the ripening process of its neighbors. In addition, damaged fruits that go moldy can infect the rest of your harvest.
Appropriate harvesting techniques will help reduce the number of so-called bad apples in the bunch, and it is especially important to handle the fruit carefully after harvesting.
To select apples for freshness, sort your harvest and remove any faulty, bruised, or Stems are missing.
Those with no attached stems can also ripen faster and provide an entry point for pathogens that can cause the fruit to decay.
While you don't want to store faulty fruit for the long term, that doesn't mean you have to throw them all away.
Imperfect fruits can be obtained through the transformation processes of dehydration, canning, or freezing. I'll give you some storage tips and ideas later in this article.
Since ripe apples hold better than ripe ones, keep or keep the ripe ones for short-term storage.
Read more about how to distinguish ripe apples from ripe ones how and when to harvest your apple crop in our special article.
Ideal storage conditions
After you've culled your harvest of bad apples and are ready to store the good ones, we can focus on the essentials.
This fruit will be of the highest quality and take the longest if kept at a temperature of 32 or 33 ° F.
According to Emily E. Hoover, Extension Horticulturalist at the Expansion of the University of MinnesotaApples kept at this low temperature will last up to ten times longer than those kept at room temperature.
That doesn't mean you can't keep your crop in a cool temperature above 32 ° F. They just won't last that long.
Together with this rather frosty temperature, these fruits should ideally be stored at a humidity of 85 to 95 percent. Those kept at lower humidity levels tend to dry out and shrink over time.
Under these ideal conditions, some apples can be successfully stored for up to six months.
Note, however, that just because 32 ° F is good doesn't mean lower is better.
These fruits will freeze if exposed to temperatures of 29 ° F for more than a short time. So when choosing your storage location, make sure the temperature stays consistently above 29 ° F.
There are probably very few of us who have a storage location with a temperature of exactly 32 ° F and 90 percent humidity. But remember, these are simply ideal conditions for long-term storage.
Even under less than ideal conditions, your harvest will stay longer in a cool, dry and dark place than in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter.
Here are some options:
For smaller crops, especially those that are thin-skinned or picked when fully ripe, the location of your choice may be the sharper drawer of your refrigerator.
Do you know how cold your fridge is? Don't feel bad, I didn't know the exact temperature in my fridge either.
Food safety experts recommend maintenance Refrigerator temperatures between 33-39 ° F.. This area is enough to keep your apples fresh – if you can save space.
Before putting them in your sharper drawer, place your apples in perforated plastic bags. The bags help Maintain moisture while the perforations prevent too much moisture from building up around the fruit.
Alternatively, you can store them in a loosely covered container.
If you are transporting larger fruit, you should store it in an additional refrigerator. If there are no other frost-sensitive fruit or vegetables in it, you can set the temperature to the coolest setting.
If you keep your harvest in the refrigerator, remember that this fruit gives off a ripening gas, ethylene, and you need to keep other fruits and vegetables separate to keep them from going bad faster than usual.
Apples keep in the refrigerator for 30-90 days, depending on the variety.
If you have a large harvest that won't fit in your fridge or if you don't want it to take up valuable real estate in the fridge, there are other places to keep your apples.
Depending on your climate, you can choose an unheated basement, garage, or root cellar.
If you have a room on the north side of your home or a covered patio that stays cool in the winter, this may also be an option.
Wherever you choose to store your crops, remember that you want to make sure the temperature stays above 29 ° F at all times.
Once you've chosen a storage location, you'll need some flat boxes or a wooden or metal rack to allow air to circulate.
One method commonly used to store this crop is to wrap each fruit in newspaper or kraft paper. For this purpose I like to use the plain brown shipping paper that serves as padding for my online purchases.
Alternatively, you can put them in a box, each surrounded by straw so that they don't touch.
Another potential storage medium would be to nestle your harvest in a barrel of biochar.
While I haven't tried this method myself, some friends of mine who are avid biochar gardeners claim that it keeps the fruit wonderfully fresh and crispy all winter long.
Once you've chosen your preferred storage medium, place the apples in a layer on your rack or in your containers, making sure none of the fruits come into contact with the others.
After your fresh harvest is cleared away, you need to check it weekly looking for any signs that the fruit is ripening too quickly or going bad and remove it to protect the rest.
You may also want to note the date it was saved in your garden booklet.
Now that you've safely put away your well-stored apples, it's time to deal with those that failed the fresh storage test.
Any fruit that has blemishes or missing stems while frozen on the tree or otherwise unsuitable for long shelf life can be preserved in a number of ways.
Probably one of the easiest ways to preserve this fruit is to put it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
Since frozen apples lose their crispy texture, you should probably reserve them for making applesauce, baked goods, or other recipes where texture isn't important.
Preparing these fruits for freezing or other preservation methods becomes a lot easier when you have an apple core, one of the few kitchen utensils that I consider a must have.
Lehmans The model is equipped with a very well designed model that has a core release feature that allows a large amount of apples to be prepared for preservation much faster and easier.
Easy Release Apple Corer
Once you have pitted your fruit, you can either remove the peel or leave it on. It's ok to freeze them with or without the skin so it really depends on your personal preference.
Remove and dispose of badly unclean areas and cut the fruit into slices or cubes.
To prevent your slices or cubes from turning brown, soak them in a mixture of eight parts water and one part lemon juice. Alternatively, you can steam blanch for a minute and a half to two minutes to stop the enzymatic processes that cause browning.
To keep the pieces from sticking together, spread the slices or pieces on a baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the freezer, and after freezing (usually within a few hours), transfer it to a plastic freezer bag or other airtight bag Container.
Label your containers with the freeze date and use your stash in it eight months for the best quality.
Would you like to learn more about the advantages of freezing over canning as a preservation method for your fruits and vegetables? Check out This article on our sister site Foodal.
If you want an easy way to store apples for later use but don't have enough freezer space, dehydration is a great way to turn these fruits into healthy, sweet snacks.
Dried apples are one of my favorite snacks when my sweet tooth is behaving!
These fruits can be dried in the oven at a low temperature or in a dehydrator.
To do this, core and cut into thin slices – about 1 / 8- to 1/4-inch – and soak the slices in a mixture of eight parts water and one part lemon juice for three to five minutes to avoid browning.
Drain and pat dry before placing the slices on a rack over a baking sheet to allow air to circulate.
Put it in a 100 ° F oven for two to four hours and check it regularly. Rotate it if necessary. Let them cool on wire racks before transferring them to an airtight container.
Store in a cool, dry place and keep for up to a week.
For more information on this process, see this guide on how to dehydrate food on our sister site Foodal.
When it comes to canned foods, these autumnal fruits can be turned into many different incarnations: canned foods, jams, jelly, applesauce, apple butter, pie filling, or even juice.
Apples can be made with either a pressure cooker or a water bath scanner. Make sure to follow safe canning practices – you can learn more about food canning at home on our sister site Foodal.
And if applesauce is one of the ways you want to preserve your harvest, here are instructions on how to canning homemade applesauce. also on Foodal.
There are many ways to store the sweet abundance of your apple harvest: you can keep it in a cool place in a cool place, or you can convert it to frozen, dried, or canned.
And if you've got a particularly green thumb, you may have enough fruit to devote to each method and diversify your fall and winter joys.
How do you want to store your harvest? Let us know in the comments below.
And for more information about growing applesNext, take a look at these guides:
About Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
Kristina Hicks-Hamblin lives on an arid land in the Utah desert. Originally from the temperate suburbs of North Carolina, she enjoys discovering ways to meet a climatic challenge. She is a certified permaculture designer and environmental consultant in building biology and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kristina loves the challenges of dry horticulture and teaches other climate-compatible gardening techniques, and she strives to create gardens that are as many birds and bees as there are edible ones. Kristina prides itself on the fact that every year she spends more money on seeds than on clothes.