Apple Storing and Processing Made Simple

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Apples for storing

Isn’t autumn magnificent! All those colourful leaves, fresher mornings and wild pickings to be had – and then there’s the abundance of awesome apples! They’ve been cropping since summer, but it’s the later to mature apples that will keep the longest. So now it's time to find out how to store apples properly, and three delicious ways to process them...

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How Long Do Apples Keep?

When apples ripen is a good guide to how long they’ll store for. Early ripening apples don’t keep for long at all, so they’re best eaten straight off the tree.

Apples ready to pick mid-season generally keep a while longer, for around two to three weeks. To maintain freshness put up to 10 apples into a polythene bag, pierce some air holes into the bag then place your apples into the refrigerator.

Late-season apples are the real keepers. Most varieties should keep to the end of the year, and some as late as next spring – if they’re stored correctly.

Wrapping apples in paper stops them touching and spreading disease in storage

How to Store Apples

Only store varieties known to keep well. If you can, pick apples in the morning while it’s still cool, and slightly under-ripe so they don’t over-ripen in storage. Only perfect apples make the grade, so use up blemished or bruised fruits immediately.

It’s important to prevent apples from touching in storage. That way if one goes bad it won’t contaminate the others. You can loosely wrap the apples in paper to help avoid this.

Apples should be stored somewhere cool but frost-free. If it’s still warm and you only have a few apples, keep them in your refrigerator until the weather turns fresher.

Apples need good air circulation to store well

Place the apples into slatted boxes, racks or a purpose-made apple store. Whatever you use, it must allow for good air circulation. Consider insulating boxes with hay, straw or shredded paper if temperatures are likely to fluctuate or drop too low. Suitable storage spaces include sheds, root cellars, well-ventilated basements and shaded, enclosed porches.

Smaller apples tend to keep for longer, so eat the largest ones first. Regularly check stored apples and use up or compost any that are going soft or beginning to rot. Your garden birds will appreciate any less-than-perfect apples, especially at a time of year when finding enough food’s a struggle.

Core and peel apples then store them in the freezer for use in all manner of recipes

Freezing Apples

If you haven’t got anywhere suitable to store your apples, freeze them. Frozen apples can be used for baking, smoothies, jam, jelly and applesauce.

Begin by coring then peeling your apples. Cut them into slices then coat the slices in lemon juice to prevent them discolouring. One lemon should give enough juice to treat slices from six to ten apples.

Arrange the slices onto a cookie sheet or baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment, then pop them into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid they can be transferred into labelled freezer bags or containers. This stops the slices from freezing into a single lump. Or simply freeze them in portion-sized containers. You can also prepare ready-to-bake apple pie fillings for the freezer.

Dried apple rings are a tasty snack that will store for months

Making Apple Rings

Or make your own apple rings. Start with washed apples, either peeled or (my preference) left as they are. Core the apples then cut into very thin slices – about an eighth to a quarter inch (3-5mm) thick. Arrange the slices onto oven racks or dehydrator trays so they’re not touching. If you like, add a dusting of cinnamon. Dehydrators make drying easy and give a uniform result. Set the temperature to 135ºF or 57ºC. If you’re using an oven, set it as low as it goes – usually 150ºF, 65ºC or gas mark 1.

Drying takes from six to 12 hours depending on slice thickness, water content and drying conditions. Your apple rings are ready when they’re dry and leathery to the touch. Or dry them further for crispy apple chips!

Once your apple rings have completely cooled pack them into airtight bags or containers and store somewhere cool, dark and dry for up to six months.

Apple juice is easy to make without any specialist equipment

Making Apple Juice

Apple gluts can also be juiced – and you don’t need any specialist equipment! Put cored, chopped apples into a large stew pot. Add just enough water to cover, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat till the apples collapse to a soft mush. Now strain the mash through a fine-mesh sieve, working it back and forth with a spoon to extract all that lovely juice. This will need doing in stages.

If you prefer your juice clearer, filter it through cheesecloth or coffee filters. If necessary, adjust sweetness and add more water if it tastes too strong. Refrigerate your juice to enjoy within the week, can it by pouring hot juice into sterilised jars, or freeze in airtight containers to keep for up to six months.

Whether you eat them fresh, put them into store or process them into delicious snacks and drinks, there’s no excuse for wasting apples this autumn! Please share your ideas for storing and processing apples below.

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Show Comments


"This is a very helpful guide. Thanks for sharing this Benedict. Have a great weekend!"
Ollie Oakley on Friday 28 September 2018
"Thanks Ollie - and you too. Hope you prepare some delicious apple-y treats."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 1 October 2018
"I like to use the cores and skins from cleaned apples to make Apple Cider Vinegar. It's very easy, and tastes great!"
Susan Ownby on Saturday 21 September 2019
"Thanks for all this useful information. Our discovery apple tree is dropping apples by the bucket load so fast I can't keep up with eating or sharing."
Janet Young on Saturday 21 September 2019
"Hi Susan - great idea - and love the fact that absolutely nothing is going to waste there! Janet - you've got a fantastic tree there. Don't feel to guilty if you can't manage all the fruits the local wildlife will help finish off any leftovers. :-)"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 23 September 2019
"Thanks Ben The guilt is somewhat assuaged. Many thanks"
Janet Young on Monday 23 September 2019
"Have you a easy recipe for cider from our apple trees please"
Lynnderr on Saturday 12 September 2020
"Hi Lynnderr. I must confess to never having made cider - though I'd love to give it a try at some point! There are plenty of suggested recipes online which may be worth investigating, but having never made it I can't vouch for any of them. I'm an old hand at drinking it though! Good luck with this project - what a great task to have!"
Ben Vanheems on Monday 14 September 2020
"What prefect timing, I didn't realize that you could freeze apples. I also make apple cider vinegar with the peels and core when I make apple pies. Simple recipe 6-8 apple peels and core, placed in clear glass jar (fills to about half full) add water to completely cover. I used a quart size jar, add about a teaspoon of sugar. cover top of jar with paper towel and rubber band place in cool dark place for two weeks. Then strain out solids and place back in cool dark place, again with paper towel and rubber band for another week. then check to see if you like the strength of flavor. Once you do place proper lid on and you're done. "
Donna on Saturday 17 September 2022

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