Fall – that perfect season when grapes and apples are in their prime. I don’t know about you, but picking apples is one of my favorite garden chores.
But then comes that dreaded feeling we all have felt when we wonder what to do with all those apples? I don’t want them to go to waste, but there’s only so many apple oatmeals, cakes, pies, jams, and sauces I can make and eat.
Well, you can store them for later use. There are two ways of doing this: storing apples for short- and long-term usage.
Here are the details about both processes, so you can choose the one that suits you best.
Let’s get started!
Storing Apples In The Short Term
If you’re planning to use your apples the following week, you can just leave them on your countertop.
However, you shouldn’t keep them near other fruits and vegetables because apples produce ethylene, which can speed up the ripening process of its neighbors.
And the amount of this gas increases with storage, higher temperatures, in rotten or bruised apples, etc. (1)
So, if you have a couple of apples that have started to become soft, move them away from the others because they will lead to the domino effect. Use them to make applesauce or an amazing jam.
You can also place your apples in the crisper drawer in your fridge, where they will be able to last up to 6 weeks or so.
These fruits love cold temperatures just above freezing and higher humidity, which is why they do so well in the refrigerator.
Storing Apples In The Long Run
So, you’ve finally figured out the best timing for planting apple trees and now the time has come for their harvest.
And once that’s done, the only thing left is to store them properly to be able to enjoy them, preferably until the next harvest or at least summer.
Here are some tips that can help you out!
Choosing The Right Variety
Some apple varieties store better than others and can last for much longer. Sweeter apples usually don’t store as well as those with a tart flavor.
For instance, Delicious and Black Diamond apples are extremely sweet and aren’t the best for long-term storage.
But varieties such as Granny Smith, Jonathan, Honeycrisp, McIntosh Pink Lady, Winesap, Fuji, Gold Rush, Braeburn, and Rome are ideal for long-term storage. They can last at least 6 months in storage due to their thicker skins and less sugar content.
In addition to the variety, you should also pay close attention to the actual appearance of the apples. Choose blemish-free ones without any bruising, cuts, or insect damage. They will produce less ethylene and be able to last longer.
In fact, if your apples are already bruised, damaged, or starting to rot, they can quickly rot your entire batch, so make sure to use those as soon as possible and not store them with the healthy ones.
You can eat them fresh or turn them into a delicious apple juice, sauce, jam, or butter.
P.S. Avoid storing store-bought apples for long-term use. Chances are, they’ve already been stored for quite a long time, which reduces their lifespan in your home.
The best practice when storing these fruits for long-term use is preventing them from touching each other. This will prolong their lifespan and keep their skin from wrinkling and flesh from becoming soft and floury.
This method will also keep them from touching the rotting fruits (if some pass your thorough inspection), making them last longer.
Wrap each apple in black-and-white newspaper, avoiding colored and shiny inserts. Or you can use paper bags, towels, and even butcher paper to keep them safe.
And if you simply don’t want to do this extensive chore, you can always place apples in a box and separate them with clean straw or sawdust. Put each fruit at least an inch apart for this method to work.
Small or medium-sized cardboard boxes or wooden crates are the best for storing apples. This is strictly to make your life a lot easier because you should check your apples weekly for any spoilage, which is much easier to do when they’re in smaller containers.
Additionally, if your storage location is extremely dry, you can mist your apples after you wrap them in paper. These fruits love humidity and spraying can raise it to perfect levels.
When storing apples, I personally prefer wooden crates because you can stack them on top of each other and save a lot of space that way.
And finally, always store the same varieties with each other. Different kinds of apples have different amounts of ethylene and longevity, so it’s best not to mix them up.
P.S. Place smaller apples at the bottom of the crate (or cardboard box) since they usually tend to ripen more slowly than the larger ones.
Finding The Best Storage Location
The best temperature for storing mature apples is between 32 and 39°F, depending on the variety. This will keep them fresh for at least half a year or up to a whole year if you monitor them closely. (2)
Temperatures below the recommended levels may lead to freezing, and those above will make them mature faster and spoil.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep the humidity between 90-95% to prevent them from spoiling and shriveling. (3)
That’s why the best location for storing apples is in a cellar. Many older homes have them and they are the perfect spots for storing garden and orchard produce such as apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc.
Sadly, most modern homes do not have the option of a root cellar, but there are some alternatives. Just make sure to find a cool, dark, and humid location and you’re good to go.
An unheated basement, garage, or even a shed are great options as long as they don’t freeze. Keep your apples cool and in a humid spot, and they are sure to love any of the alternative spaces.
And if you have a heated basement, close some vents and open some windows to vent them before bringing your apples in.
Finally, whatever spot you chose, remember to prepare your apples well for storage and keep them in a cool, dark, and humid place. That way, they’ll last for at least 6 months.
Of course, you will have to check up on them on a weekly basis to remove the fruits that start to spoil.
1. Hanses, E. (1945). Quantitative Study of Ethylene Production in Apple Varieties. Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.
2. Tripu, D. & Farcuh, M. (2021). Keeping it Cool: Cold Storage Recommendations for Apples and Peaches. UMD Extension.
3. What Are the Best Storage Conditions for Apples? (n.d.). ISU Extension and Outreach: Horticulture and Home Pest News.