How to Store Apples to Keep Fresh Longer

Last week we discussed visiting apple orchards and cider mills. I love a crisp, fresh apple. If you like to pick your own or buy from apple orchards, you probably know what I mean. My apple wish would be my apples always taste like that, but we all have eaten older, softer apples. They’re good but not great. I love the way a bowl of apples on the table looks, but do not love the apples after a couple of days. Kept at room temperature, whole apples will only stay fresh for about a week. Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated. How do the grocery stores sell fresh apples year round? Science.

Storing Apples

After harvest, apples can be stored for months in controlled atmosphere storage rooms where the temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and humidity levels are adjusted to put them into hibernation. This is how we have crisp apples to buy in January. The best we can do in our homes is refrigeration. Apples like it cold (but not freezing), with relatively high humidity. An apple will store the longest at 32°F and 90% humidity. A dark spot is best. Don’t worry if you can’t get those exact conditions—that’s just to get the absolute longest storage time.

If you only have the one refrigerator, place the apples in the crisper drawer. Crisper drawers offer a more humid environment than the rest of the refrigerator interior. Most are adjustable between high and low through a sliding humidity control setting that opens or closes a small vent in the drawer. Keep the vent closed for high humidity for apples. Opening all the way is for low humidity produce.

Because apples can absorb odors from other foods stored in the same area, keep apples in plastic bags in the drawer. The plastic also helps apples retain their own moisture. Make sure that there are several air holes in the apple bag. Do not store any other produce in that drawer. Avoid washing fall apples before storing them and do not remove the stem. Water absorbs through the skin of the apple and will actually speed up the deterioration process. Instead, wait to wash apples until you are ready to eat them. Apples with stems last longer than stemless apples. If you have any bruised apples, use them first and do not put it with the other apples. One bad apple really can ruin the other apples.

If you have an extra fridge in the basement or garage that you don’t open as often as the one in the kitchen, use that for storing apples. Wrap each apple in a single sheet of newspaper and place them in single layers on a tray. You can then stack the trays to maximize the number of apples stored. Apples should be stored at a constant temperature trying to achieve the goal of 32°F and 90% humidity.

Choosing The Right Apples For Storage

Pick unblemished, unbruised, ripe apples. Use the damaged fruit first including those without stems and do not store with the other apples.

The best apple varieties for storage are the more tart and thick-skinned ones, such as McIntosh, Fuji, Rome, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith. The apple varieties harvested late in the season tend to be good keepers. If you pick your own, ask the orchardist for a recommendation. Different geographic locations may have different heirloom varieties. Up in northeast USA is Northern Spy, an heirloom apple from East Bloomfield, NY, while Arkansas Black originated in the mid-19th Century in Benton County, Arkansas. The sweeter, thinner-skinned types — such as Delicious or Gala — can still be stored, but they don’t last as long, so use them first.

Check the apples periodically and remove any that are spoiling. Use the large ones first because they tend to get soft before the smaller ones. Apples continue to ripen in storage, so place each variety on its own tray (or in separate crates) because they ripen at different rates.

How to Use Your Apples

Raw Apples

Along with colorful leaves and sweater weather, apples are a true sign that it’s fall. Gala apples are best for eating raw. They’re best if you wanted to do salads with apples or if you wanted to add sweetness and crunch to your lunchtime sandwich. Slice and add to Apple Peanut Butter Toast for breakfast.

There’s nothing better to add to a fresh salad than crisp bites of apple.

Baked Apples & Cooking Apples

Crisp, cool days call for your favorite easy apple recipes like a simple baked apple. With thousands of apple varieties, how do you choose when a recipe calls for ‘baking apples’? If you want to be adventurous and try different apples, Bon Appetit has a great article on the best apples for baking.  Their test kitchen baked a variety of apples including Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Winesap, and Pink Lady (or Cripps Pink). The main point is to buy fresh, crisp apples to bake.

You may already have your favorite cooking apple types, but if you’d like to try different varieties, look no further. Better Homes & Garden suggests 10 best apples for cooking crisps, pies, etc. due to best texture and flavor:

  • Braeburn.
  • Cameo.
  • Cortland.
  • Crispin.
  • Empire.
  • Fuji.
  • Golden Delicious.
  • Granny Smith.

The best baking apples offer a balance of sweet and tart flavors as well as flesh that doesn’t break down in the oven. Once you know which apples to look for, experiment, mix and match to find your tastiest combination. The more varieties you use, the richer the blend of flavor.

Fix dinner with a slow cooker filled with Roast Beef With Apples and Onions. It’s very easy and fancy enough for company.

For a simple sweet treat, Apple Crisp is a favorite. Traditional homemade caramel apples are wonderful for a kids’ party. When you plan an adult get-together, a Festive Caramel Apple Tray is easy, decorative, and tasty.

Wishing you many happy apple moments this fall.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

20 thoughts to “How to Store Apples to Keep Fresh Longer”

  1. What a fabulous post about apples, not only have you given such good information on how to store apples you have also linked to so many fantastic recipe ideas for apples. I’ve pinned this for future reference.

  2. This is really useful to know. It’s coming to that time where my dad’s apples on his trees are just about ready. I did not know that about not washing apples until you are ready to use them, how interesting!

  3. The festive turkey Carmel tray is very cute. I will need to make this for the parties to come this fall!!

    Thank you for visiting Gma’sPhoto!
    Take care and best wishes.

  4. Very useful and interesting article. I have doing it all wrong. I usually wash my apples and all fruits and veggies except mushrooms before storing. I wll try leaving my apples alone if I buy a bunch of them. Thank you for the informtion and for sharing at #aclwcc. Pinned.

  5. We always store our apples in the fridge (even though we usually eat a batch in under a week!). My husband’s grandfather had a cold apple storage room in his basement and I loved that he had fresh, crunchy apples year round.

  6. Great tips, here! So many things I didn’t know about apples. And great recipes, too. I’m happy to tell you that I’ll be featuring this post tomorrow at Thursday Favorite Things, starting at 10:00 a.m. CST. 🙂

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