Apples: How to Store Apples for the Winter at Home

This month's notes: December 2016: Apples are still  available, but already picked.  In some areas, late season crops, are still available (if there hasn't been a frost) - like persimmons, pears, winter squash, kiwis, even figs and raspberries.  See your state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. But now it is time to tag your Christmas tree at a local Christmas tree farm (and enjoy a bonfire, smore, hot chocolate and free hayrides, and often Santa visits! And next Spring, you'll want to take your children to a free Easter egg hunt - see our companion website to find a local Easter Egg hunt!

And we have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy  directions

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Apples: How to Store Apples for the Winter at Home

Apples can be kept for months, given the right variety and conditions.  Here's how to store apples for the winter:

Varieties of apples that store well:

It's almost easier to say which apples do not store well.  In general, softer , thin-skinned tpes like Gala and Delicious (red and yellow),  do not age well or store well. Summer varieties (early ripening varieties) again, like Gall, also do not store well.  You want harder, later ripening varieties. There is a table of most common apple varieties at the bottom of this page and a see this page for a more detailed chart, organized by ripening date, of apple varieties.  It also identifies which apples store best.

The apples need to be bruise-free!

How long will they store?

Typically, three or four months. After that, they start to dry out, get a wrinkled appearance and become softer and more spongy feeling.  Still good to make applesauce or apple butter, or even dried apples.

Storage conditions

These are critical:

  1. Temperature: cool; just above freezing (but never to or below freezing) is best. Short of that, as cold as you can get without freezing!
  2. Light: dark or dim light.  NO direct sunlight!
  3. Humidity:  90% humidity keeps the apples from drying out. Unless you have a humidifier with a setting for percentage of desired humidity, there's probably not much you can do about this. But the apples must stay dry; if water comes in contact it will start rot!
  4. Vermin: Non- human type, that is: bugs, animals etc. None! Free of life forms that will attack your apples!
  5. Spacing: apples should not touch each other.  Those points of contact will spread mold!
  6. Do not store apples in the same small room with potatoes or tomatoes. As these age, they release a gas that makes apples spoil faster. A large room should be fine, if they are not near each other. ANd pungent foods, like onions, can affect the flavor of apples, which can absorb these odors.

While a walk-in fridge or root cellar is ideal,  an unheated basement, an enclosed, unheated porch, an heated garage that does not freeze, an unheated attic, will also work well.

Materials needed

  • Newspaper
  • Shallow boxes or crates (get free boxes from Costco and Sam's Club which are ideal for this (3 or 4 inches deep and about 18 inches by 34 inches wide and long)
  • A cool dark, dry place: a root cellar is ideal, if you have one.  Otherwise a basement or garage that does not freeze (unless you live in a climate that is warm in the winter - duh!).

How to do it

  1. Wrap each apple individually in a sheet of newspaper. I use a page each apple (tear the double pages in half along the seam).
  2. Put an apple in  one end of the page and simply roll and wrap it up! I twist the ends a bit to keep it from unraveling.
  3. Don't mix apple varieties. Different varieties ripen at different rates, so put different varieties in different boxes.
  4. Sorting: as you wrap, set aside any bruised apples. Apples with even small bruises should be set aside to use first - don't even bother wrapping these. Only bruise-free apples should be used for long-term storage.
  5. Put each wrapped apple in one of the storage boxes, 1 apple deep.

Monitoring Storage

The boxed apples need to be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won't freeze.

Periodically (weekly, at least) unwrap a few apples to verify for spoilage.  Look for dark or wet spots as a sign.

Remove spoiled apples and any contaminated newspaper right away.


More information

Below is a table of typical storage durations under ideal conditions gathered from various university extension services.

Storage life of some common apple varieties
at 30-32°F. and 90-95 percent relative humidity
Variety Typical storage life
Lodi   1-2 weeks
Gala   2-4 weeks
Cortland 3-4 months
 McIntosh 3-4 months
Jonathan 3-5 months
 Granny Smith 3-5 months
Winesap 3-5 months
Stayman 3-5 months
Northern Spy 3-6 months
Chieftain 3-6 months
Fuji 3-6 months
Arkansas Black 3-6 months
Rome 3-6 months

    

References:


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Picking Tips

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