How to store apples
Picking and consuming a fresh apple, straight from the tree, is one of the gardens great treats. As anyone with an apple tree or two can tell you, they will often produce a harvest of great excess. Unless you, or someone you know owns a cider brewery many, of these apples will go to waste. However, this does not need to be the case. Luckily apples can easily be stored, with certain varieties staying edible for 4-6 months all while keeping their flavour.
Selecting the best keepers
Unfortunately not all apples will store for long periods of time. As a general rule the end of season apples with harder waxier skin will be the best for long term storing. Some even storing into the new year. While the normally sweeter earlier season cultivars are best consumed soon after picking.
- Early-season cultivars (such as ‘Beauty of Bath’, ‘Bardsey’, ‘Discovery’ and ‘Scrumptious’) which ripen in July to August are best consumed soon after harvest as they are not the best for storage. This is the perfect apple to give out to friends, family and neighbours.
- Mid-season cultivars (such as ‘Ellisons Orange’, ‘Gala’ and ‘Lord Lambourne’) are harvested slightly under ripe at the start of September and will store for one to two months in the correct conditions.
- Late mid-season cultivars (such as ‘Cox’, ‘Egremont Russet’ and ‘Saint Edmunds Russet’) which are harvested in late September will keep for two to four months if stored correctly.
- Late-season cultivars (such as ‘Braeburn’, ‘Christmas Pippin’, ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Pixie’ and ‘Golden Delicious’) which are harvested in October before the first frosts will be the best for storage. If stored correctly these will keep into the New Year.
Harvesting Apples for storage
When picking your apples you wish to store, there are a few key things to look out for:
- Make sure you do not pick any over ripe apples as these will spoil quickly. These are best taken into the fruit bowl and consumed soon after picking.
- Slightly smaller apples will tend to store better. Larger apples will go start to go soft first in storage, so if you are selecting some larger ones for storage make sure you use them first.
- Select apples which are blemish free. Be on the look-out for any bruising, brown rot or general gashes on the skin. A blemished apple is normally still fine for consumption but they will rot during storage.
- When harvesting try your best to keep the stalk attached to the apple as these will store better.
- Look for any signs of moth caterpillar holes on the skin of the apples. Apples which have internal maggot during storage spoiling the rest.
How to store your apples
Short term storage
If you only have a few apples you wish to consume over the coming weeks then the fridge is the easiest option. Simply put four or five apples in a plastic bag (preferably biodegradable) and poke holes all around the bag. Place the apples in their own compartment in the fridge away from other fruit and vegetables. Apples can and will speed up the decay of neighbouring produce.
These apples will happily stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Check the apples regularly and consume any which are showing signs of damage first.
Long term storage
Once you have your apples ready for storage they will need to be kept somewhere cool and dark, which has good ventilation, and an ideal temperature range of 3-7°C. Personally I use my garden shed which has been insulated, this keeps the frost out but does not get too hot over Autumn and Winter. If you do not have a shed garages and Cellars are also great options.
Selecting the correct storage container is key to your success. All containers need to have good airflow, open sided crates, crates made out of wooden slates or ideally special apple storage racks.
Once you have your container, lay the apples stalk down making sure they are not touching each other. A popular way to ensure they remain apart is to wrap the apples in newspaper. While this works, it makes checking on your apples much more time consuming. Keep mid-season and late-season cultivars separate as they can speed up the late-seasons ripening, reducing storage time.
Make sure bugs or rodents which may fancy a free meal are kept at bay! In the past hungry mice have gnawed holes in my late-season apples so take appropriate precautions.
One bad apple
We have all heard the saying “one bad apple, can spoil the others”, well this is not just a saying. When it comes to storing apples it’s the truth. This is why is it so important to regularly check your apples in storage. I recommend checking every three or four days at a minimum. It really is surprising how fast rot will spread across your apples in storage. Any signs of softness, rot or being overripe remove that apple from the rest.