fresh apples in apple orchard row with trees and green grass

Apple Orchard

It’s apple season, our favorite time of year! Almost nothing is better than a fresh apple, and there are so many varieties to choose from that it’s hard to determine which one is best.

And, the question is, once you get them, how do you store apples for later use?

Let’s talk about how to store apples. Properly storing the apples will give you fresh apples almost all year, through spring and summer. has an excellent site that’s really informative about apple varieties and their uses. There’s a handy infographic apple variety guide on the site that also tells you about how to store the apples. Use this information to help you decide what kind of apples to pick that will fit in with how you want to use them.

We try to stock up on apples when they are available. We love to pack a picnic, get together at the local orchard to pick apples from their trees and spend time in the beauty of autumn.

Remember this tip: If you’re picking your own apples off the tree, handle them carefully, almost as you would handle eggs. Try to avoid any bruising and nicking. If the apple gets bruised, the spot will deteriorate faster and cause spoilage.

What To Do With Your Apples?

several bushel baskets of red fresh apples for storage
Bushel Baskets of Apples

After our time in the orchards, we always come home with bushel baskets of fresh-picked apples and have to decide what to do with them.

  • Should we make apple pies?
  • Process them for applesauce or pie filling?
  • Freeze sliced apples for later recipes?
  • Store some whole apples for munching?

We end up doing all of the above. Today, we’ll talk about how to store whole fresh apples, and touch on other preservation methods as well.

apple pie next to fresh apples in wood box
Apple Pie and Fresh Apples

You want to be sure to take care of your fresh apples so that they will last as long as possible. Proper handling and storing of your apples will let you have fresh, crispy apples for months.

How To Store Fresh Apples

You’ve heard the saying “one spoiled apple ruins the whole bunch?” It seems that this is true in real life for apples! If you have one apple that is rotting, it will affect the other apples near it and cause them to rot too. Pretty soon, all of your apples are spoiled and inedible.

No one wants spoiled apples! Let’s talk about different methods of storing fresh apples so you don’t end up with some.

Short-Term Apple Storage

short-term storage of fresh apple slices with peanut butter on white plate
Fresh Apple Slices with Peanut Butter

If you have just a few apples, you’ll probably want to eat them rather quickly. Short-term storage is your answer, and your refrigerator is an excellent place to put them.

“Pick” one of the best varieties of apples for eating fresh. These include Ambrosia, Braeburn, Empire, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jazz, Red Delicious, and others.

The apples you want to use now can be stored in the crisper of your refrigerator. Keep them cool but don’t freeze them! The perfect temperature is between 30 – 35 degrees Fahrenheit with 90 – 95 percent relative humidity.

Keep them in a separate crisper drawer, away from other fruits or vegetables. Apples emit ethylene gas which can start the decay process in any fruits and vegetables that are around them.

Always store fresh apples whole. Don’t cut them into pieces, as they will turn brown. Instead, cut them right before you are ready to eat them, for the freshest possible slice. If you need to pack them for later, shaking a few drops of lemon juice on the slices will keep them from browning.

Try to keep them apart so they don’t touch each other. To do this, you can place them in a plastic bag with holes in it, or wrap each of the apples in kraft paper.

Long-Term Apple Storage

“Pick” the right kind of apple for long-term storage. Those that are picked late in the season are the best for storage apples. They are tart and will have thicker skins. Tart apples have less sugar in them which helps keep them longer without breaking down and rotting.

The best apple varieties for storage include Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Rome, McIntosh, Northern Spy, Winesap, and Yates. Ask your apple farmer or favorite nursery for their recommendations.

The sweeter, thinner-skinned types, like Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala apples are good for eating now, but not good for long-term storage.

Remove Damage or Bruising

Before preparing them for storage, inspect the apples carefully for bruises, nicks, soft spots, or bug damage. Put only the perfect ones into storage and use the damaged ones for eating now or cooking. Think about making a nice batch of applesauce or apple butter with those that are damaged or bruised.

Size Does Matter

Take time to separate the apples into small, medium, and large sizes. You’ll want to make sure to use the larger apples before smaller ones as they will get soft faster.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Also, apples will continue to ripen while in storage. Sort them by variety, as some varieties will ripen more quickly than others. Separating them by size and variety will help you know which ones to eat first.

Cool Not Freezing is Ideal

If you have a lot of apples to store, look for a cool, dark place that has is relatively humid like a basement, garage or cellar. Keep them cool and dry. The best temperature is close to freezing but not below. If the apples get frozen, they will be mushy when thawed. The ideal storage temperature is between 30 – 35 degrees Fahrenheit with 90 – 95 percent relative humidity.

No Touching!

Apples cannot touch each other in storage. Keeping them apart will minimize any bruising. Wrap each apple in kraft paper and place it into a box. The paper will keep the apples apart, not touching.

If possible, keep your apples in a single layer or use trays to separate the layers. For an inexpensive option, you can use some filing trays to hold the wrapped apples.

Some companies offer apple storage racks that allow you to store the apples in single layers. Air can circulate among the shelves, so you won’t need to wrap each apple.

The Ripening Effect

Apples continue to ripen after they are picked. Keep different varieties of apples separate, as they will all ripen at different speeds. Check the apples periodically to see that they are all good. If any start spoiling, remove them and use immediately. There’s that applesauce again.

Keep Away From Potatoes!

Apples and potatoes are not friends and should not be stored together. Apples give off ethylene gas which will cause the potatoes to spoil sooner.

Other Methods to Store Apples

Preservation by Canning

jars of homemade applesauce with apples on top of the jars
Jars of Homemade Applesauce

If you have nowhere to store whole fresh apples, you can preserve them until you are ready to use them. Canning options include apple butter, applesauce, pie filling, chutney, or plain slices. Be sure to follow the recipes for canning your apples regardless of what you decide to make.

Apple Freeze

two apples on stems with ice on them
Frozen Apples

If you want, you can choose to freeze them as a method to store your fresh apples. But not exactly like the picture!

Apples can be frozen whole, sliced or made into a pie filling. Frozen apples are not really good for eating raw and really want to be used for cooking. You can use frozen apples to make pies, applesauce, cobblers, apple butter, or other baked dishes. Use your imagination and make it easy and delicious.

  • You can freeze apples while they’re still whole. If you want to freeze them whole, wash them thoroughly and freeze them on a cookie sheet. When they’re completely frozen, transfer them into freezer bags. Don’t try to freeze them in the bags as they will turn mushy and clump together. Use them for baked apple recipes.

  • Slices are convenient. If you want to freeze slices, wash the apples and then peel, core and slice them into your preferred sizes. Freeze them on a cookie sheet until completely frozen, then transfer them into freezer bags. Use in recipes.

  • If you want to freeze into pie filling, try this. Once the apples are washed, peeled and sliced, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of lemon juice to them. Put them into pie plates that are lined with plastic wrap. Once frozen, transfer them into freezer bags. When you’re ready to make your pie, place the filling into a pie crust, cover with a crust, and bake until golden. There’s no need to thaw the apples out first.

Dehydrate the Apples

dehydrated apple slices on white plate next to 3 apples
Dehydrated Apple Chips

Depending on what you have, you can use a dehydrator or the oven to dehydrate your apples.

Wash the apples and slice into rings or slices. Dunk into acidulated water which is water with vinegar or lemon juice in it to prevent browning. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Place on trays and dry as instructed. It will take 8 – 12 hours to get dried. Store in jars.

Dehydrated apples make a delicious snack the kids will love. They can also be added to recipes like compote or applesauce to add that fresh apple flavor.

Apple Cider

apple cider in glasses with cinnamon stick
Apple Cider

Apple cider is delicious! It’s raw apple juice from fresh-picked apples that still has its pulp and sediment, as it has not been filtered to remove them. It’s easy to make, and you can use any kind of apples for it.

Choose what variety of apples to use depending on whether you like your cider sweet, tart, or somewhere in between. Blend the kind of apples to find your favorite taste.

How much cider to you want to
make? It’ll take about fourteen pounds of apples to make one gallon of cider. Once
you decide what apple varieties to use, wash and clean the apples, removing the
stems and any bruises or damage. Cut them into quarters and place into a food
processor. Process until it looks like applesauce. Strain the pulp to get the
juice out. Serve chilled. You can keep the cider in the refrigerator for about
two weeks.

Hard apple cider takes a bit more preparation and time but will yield a nice reward for your effort. Prepare enough cider to make five gallons for the recipe. You’ll have to wait at least five weeks total from when you start the process (more if you can stand it, age makes it better like wine). When it’s ready, chill and drink your delicious hard apple cider.

How to Store Apples, Apples, and More Apples

fresh red apples
Apples, Apples, More Apples

We hope these ideas will give you some inspiration for what to do with all of your apples this fall.

Talking about autumn colors, here are some ideas of what perennials to plant for fall color next year and every year after that.

What is your favorite? What did you decide to do with your apples? How did you store your fresh-picked apples? Please leave your remarks below.