One of the best things about late summer and early fall is the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables that are abundantly ready for harvest. And one of the most beloved fruits ready for the picking during September is the humble apple. Yes, fall is a time of hot apple cider, apple pies and the simple joy of biting into a fresh Empire, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apple.
In addition to their versatility, apples have the advantage of being quite easy to store. In fact, if you follow a few simple steps, you should be able to store the following apples for at least five months – and sometimes even longer. Storing apples is easy, and it’s a great way to have fresh fruit for you and your family during the winter months.
What You’ll Need
If you are ready to put some newly harvested or market fresh apples into storage, you will need the following:
- A container such as a box or basket
- A root cellar is nice to have but certainly isn’t necessary
In order to keep your apples unspoiled, you’ll be pitted against three main foes: time, bruises and contamination from a rotten apple.
You can, however, increase the amount of time you have by selecting apples that store longer. Choose varieties that have a thicker skin and a more tart flavor, rather than thin-skinned sweet apples. Apples that that will store for up to 5 months include:
- Golden Delicious
- Red Delicious
- Northern Spy
- Granny Smith
Avoiding Bad Apples
Have you ever heard the expression “one bad apple spoils the bunch”? Well, it’s really true. If one apple starts to turn, it will also spoil any apple in which the rotten spot has contact. To avoid this, simple wrap each apple in newspaper.
You don’t need any special technique for wrapping the apples – just ensure coverage so they don’t make contact with other apples.
While you’re wrapping apples, scan them for bruises or other defects. Bruised apples should be used up quickly and not put into storage. Store only your most perfect apples.
Storing Your Apples
Storing your apples is quite simple, but there are still a few things that you should know:
- Store only fresh, ripe apples. The fresher your apples are when you put them in storage, the longer they are likely to last. Also, remember that ripe apples store the best. If they have become overripe, or are still a bit unripe, they will not last as long.
- Separate apple varieties. Different types of apples have different shelf lives, so if you’ve got more than one variety that you will be storing this winter, keep different varieties in separate boxes or baskets.
- Separate apples by size. You may not think it makes a difference, but apple size actually does matter! Larger apples simply don’t last as long as smaller ones – so divide your fruit into small, medium and large, and organize them so that the large fruit get eaten first.
- Don’t store apples and potatoes/onions next to each other. Potatoes and onions release a gas that causes apples to rot more quickly. If you are storing apples and potatoes/ onions, they shouldn’t be stored right next to each other (in the same root cellar is fine, though). Apples also have a tendency to absorb the flavor of other foods.
- Store in a cool dark place. You should never allow your apples to freeze, but they will do great if they are kept around 32-34 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also want to keep them in a dark place. Areas that work well for storing apples include refrigerators and root cellars, or you also may do well keeping them in boxes in a basement, pantry or enclosed porch.
- High humidity. The place you choose to store your apples should also have a decent amount of humidity (about 90 percent is ideal). But don’t allow apples to get wet or they will end up rotting.
- Check your apples on a regular basis. Look for any signs of spoilage, and be sure to remove any fruit that is starting to rot.
Stored properly, your apples should last well into late winter or even early spring. If you have too many to eat fresh, then consider making cider, pies, applesauce or a dish that can be frozen.
Apples kept in storage will become sweeter over time, so enjoy tasting your harvest at different intervals throughout the winter!
What advice would you add on storing apples? Share your tips in the section below: