September and October are prime picking months for apples. If you recently made a trip to your local farmers’ market or are lucky to have your own apple trees, you probably have a bushel or two waiting for you to devour them. We’ll show you how to preserve apples short and long term, and make delicious recipes for food storage.
It’s incredible how many different types of apples there are, from the very sweet Gala and tart Granny Smith to the sweet-tart Pink Lady and mildly sweet Golden Delicious.
Then there are the countless apple recipes, from pie and crisp to cobbler and chutney. It’s no wonder apples are one of our favorites fruits. Apple season happens once a year, and it’s easy to end up with many pounds of apples in your kitchen.
Unfortunately, fresh apples only last so long sitting on the counter. Luckily, there are many ways to preserve these fruits to enjoy their tasty goodness until the next harvest.
- Choosing and Preserving Apples Short and Long Term
Choosing and Preserving Apples Short and Long Term
Each apple variety has its own distinct flavor and texture, and it’s essential to know the differences before preserving them.
After choosing the perfect apple for your tastes, preserving them is simple, whether you decide to refrigerate or freeze them, or make your favorite apple recipe for canning.
Choosing the Best Fruit Before Preserving Apples
There are many apple varieties, and choosing the right type is essential, depending on how you plan on preserving them. Some of them are extremely sweet and perfect for eating raw while others, such as Granny Smith, are ideal for baking.
When choosing apples for food preservation, it’s vital to pick healthy ones and know when apples are ripe.
It’s easy to tell when apples are gone bad. Avoid fruit with soft spots, broken skin, and worm holes. If you do have a few damaged apples, use a knife to remove the bad part and eat the rest.
Determine how you plan on using your apples. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith hold up very well in the oven and are the perfect choice for baking in a pie, cobbler, and crisp.
Fuji, Gala, and Golden Delicious are sweet options for applesauce and apple juice, while Fuji and Braeburn are best for apple butter. If you plan on canning apples, choose tart, crisp apples that are not mealy such as Cortland, Fuji, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp.
Ways to Preserve Apples in the Home
While there are a few ways to preserve apples, the counter and refrigerator are best if you plan on snacking on your fruits throughout the week. However, there are some steps to follow to keep them fresh the longest.
Preserving Fresh Apples
While it’s not recommended, it’s safe to keep your apples in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter if you plan on eating them within a few days. Fortunately, it is easier to store apples at room temperature than it is for preserving fresh bananas, which spoil much more quickly.
However, cool storage is best. Do apples last longer in the fridge and freezer? Yes, they certainly do. The ideal temperature for keeping them is between 30 and 35°F, with 90 to 96% humidity.
To store apples in the fridge, especially a small number, place them in a plastic bag with holes in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Keep them separate from vegetables since apples release ethylene gas.
If you have a large bunch of apples, consider keeping them in a cool, dark area such as a cellar, basement, or garage.
How to Preserve Apples in the Freezer
The best way to preserve apples is in the freezer, if you don’t want to refrigerate apples or have too many. It’s pretty straightforward, and no special equipment is involved. Frozen apple slices are useful for adding to smoothies, pancakes, and apple pie.
Peel and core the fruits and slice them into desired sizes. Pour water and lemon juice into a bowl, add the slices to the lemon bath for five minutes, and drain them.
Spread the apples on a parchment-lined baking sheet and set them in the freezer for four hours of flash freezing. Place the frozen apples into a freezer bag and return them to the freezer for up to one year.
If you have an abundance of lemon juice, you can also store lemon juice in the freezer. Add it to ice cube trays, let it freeze solid, and put the cubes in storage bags in the freezer.
Freezing is also one of the best ways to preserve lemons in slices just like apples. They’re great for garnishing drinks and desserts.
Canning Apples for Long Term Storage
Canning apple slices is a relatively simple chore and extends your apples’ life by up to a year. They are useful for making into applesauce and apple pie filling, or straight from the jar. This basic canned apples recipe uses ten to twelve pounds of apples.
Fill a bowl with four cups of water and add the lemon juice and quartered apples to prevent browning. Set a pot on the stove over medium-high heat, add the sugar and water, and simmer until it dissolves.
Use a spoon with slots to transfer the apples from the lemon juice to the pot and boil them for five minutes. Pack the cooked apples into the canning jars, leaving a half-inch of headspace and pour the hot syrup over the top to cover them.
Remove the air bubbles, secure the lids in place, and process them in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove the apple jars and let them cool for about 24-hours before storing them.
Preserving Apples by Making Apple Butter
To preserve fresh apples by making them into a sweet and comforting spread, try making homemade apple butter. It’s similar to thick applesauce but with a bit of tang, and using a slow cooker makes the job nearly effortless. Try it on ice cream or buttered toast.
Place the apple slices into a crockpot and add the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Mix the apples and cook on low for ten hours, stirring every few hours.
Transfer the cooked apples into a blender and puree until smooth before pouring the apple butter into a storage container. Place it in the fridge for two weeks or freeze it for a few months.
Save Apples by Making Applesauce
Nothing says autumn more than a bowl of applesauce topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. This four-ingredient recipe takes only three steps to prepare.
It is a healthy snack on its own, useful for making fruit leather, or added as a baking substitute for eggs in your favorite baked goods.
Mix all ingredients into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the temperature to low, and simmer it for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook five more minutes to thicken the sauce.
Remove the pot from the heat and use a potato masher to mash the apples to the desired consistency. After the sauce cools, pour it into a storage container and keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Ways to Preserve Apples by Dehydrating
Dried apples are a healthy snack for on-the-go and liven up just about anything from chicken-rice soup to a hot bowl of oatmeal. Drying them takes little effort in the oven or dehydrator, and they last about six months in the pantry.
In a bowl, combine the lemon juice (citric acid) or vinegar with water and set it aside. Peel and core the fruits and slice them into quarter-inch pieces before submerging them in the lemon water bath.
Drain the apples in a colander for a few minutes to let them air dry. Spread them in a single layer on food dehydrator trays and dry them according to your model’s instructions.
If you don’t have access to a dehydrator, lay them on a cooling rack placed inside a cookie sheet in an oven set to 145°F. Keep the door propped open for several hours, while frequently turning, until they are dry.
There are many ways to use apples, whether you are into pie making, like incorporating them in savory entrees or enjoy making your own pectin.
However, like most fruits, apples have a limited shelf life, and preserving apples is the best way to have them on hand throughout the year.
Learning how to preserve apples using various techniques means that you get to eat sweet and tart apples all year round, so why not share our apple preservation tips and recipes with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest?