Whether you eat them whole as a crunchy five-a-day snack, stuff them into an apple pie, or stew them for a seasonal treat, apples can be used in so many ways. Hard to believe you could ever have too many of them, but sometimes a few can wind up languishing in the fruit bowl, turning wrinkly, brown and mushy.
But it is possible to store apples so that they last for weeks – even months – after you’ve bought them. Here are the quickest, easiest ways to make Autumn’s finest last longer.
How to freeze apples
Any kind of apple can be frozen. You can freeze cooking apples and eating apples using the same method: freeze them sliced or whole on a baking tray, then transfer them to freezer bags for long-term cold storage.
Freezing sliced apples requires a little more prep, but makes them quick to use in recipes, as you can take them out of the bag and pop them straight into a batch of muffins.
The easiest way to freeze apples is whole – skins and all. Apples frozen by this method are best for blending into a juice once defrosted, as the taste and texture can change during the freezing process. Ready to get started? Here’s how…
How to freeze whole apples
Step 1: Wash
To get rid of anything on the surface of your apples, gently give them a rinse under the tap, then scrub dry with a clean tea towel.
Step 2: Freeze
Lay your apples (or apple), not touching each other, on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Place them, uncovered and laying flat, in the freezer.
Don’t leave them like this for more than 2 hours, as this can run the risk of your apples getting freezer burn.
Step 3: Bag it up
When your apples have frozen solid, tip them into a freezer bag, labelling it with what’s inside and the date you froze it.
Whole apples will keep for approximately 6 months in the freezer – perfect for prepping a delightful smoothie, whenever you get a craving but don’t have fresh fruit to hand. Just remember to defrost them first.
How to freeze sliced apples
Step 1: Wash, peel, core and slice
When sliced, apples can be used for pastry fillings, smoothies, apple sauce, chutney and more. Prep them as you would for snacking – wash the apple, peel it (if you prefer), core then chop.
Step 2: Banish the browning
When an apple is exposed to the air, it oxidises, turning an unattractive brown colour. It’s safe to eat, but you can stop this from happening with a simple storecupboard solution.
Mix 1 tbsp of lemon juice with around 250ml water, dip the apple slices in it for a few moments, then leave them to dry on a sheet of kitchen roll. This should help prevent the apple slices going brown for several hours.
Step 3: Freeze
Lay the slices out on a baking tray (leaving them uncovered), and freeze for a few hours until solid. Don’t let them touch each other, as the fruit’s natural juices will mean they stick together.
Step 4: Bag
Pour your slices into a freezer bag, label, and store. When you’re ready to use them, take the quantity you need, and add straight into pie fillings, or use to top an apple tart.
Can you freeze cooked and stewed apples?
Yes, you can freeze cooked apples. You can also freeze stewed apples with ease, which will help make your next apple crumble an even simpler dessert.
Once your apples are cooked, they need to cool completely. Portion them up in small plastic containers, or individual freezer bags, then place them in your freezer. This way, they’ll keep for up to 6 months.
Fancy that crumble? All you need to do is fit the frozen cooked apples into a dish, sprinkle some crumble mix and sugar on top, and pop in a preheated oven until the apples are cooked and the top is beautifully golden.
How to store apples
Thanks to their protective peel and hardy constitution, apples are highly suited to long-term storage: that’s up to 3 weeks at a time in a cool, dry and dark place, compared with lasting just under a week at room temperature on your kitchen worktop. As with other fruit and vegetables, such as potato, only perfect apples should be picked for storage, as flawed fruits can spoil the whole bunch.
Next, decide where you’ll store your apples. They should always be kept a little above freezing: a temperature of around 3°C works for most apple varieties, so think the fruit and veg drawer of your fridge. Don’t pile them on top of other fresh produce, however, as they release ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process.
For wrapping apples, you’ll a need a plastic bag with small holes pierced in it, as this will help maintain the correct humidity. Apples are mostly water, so need a humidity level of 90-95%. A plastic bag will retain moisture, but tiny air holes allow just enough air circulation for apples to breathe. As long as there are a few gaps for oxygen, you can throw your apples into the fridge in the bag they came in. Handy for when you’ve got a few Braeburns going spare.
If you’re storing apples for some time, you will see a waxy substance form on their shiny red (or green) skins. Don’t be tempted to scrub it off, as it’s the apple’s self-protection mechanism: it helps keep out bacteria and lock in the delicious juices.
Need to store apples in another cool, dark and dry place? Try your porch, garden shed or garage. Wash your apples, pat them dry, and loosely wrap each in a sheet of newspaper. Then, layer them in a cardboard box (with a few air holes punched in), and find a suitable spot; away from sunlight is best. Thick-skinned apples like Granny Smiths tend to best suit this kind of storage, but it will work for most varieties.
How to use frozen apples
Wondering how to use frozen or stored apples? Here are our tastiest (and most imaginative) suggestions – suitable for fresh or preserved fruits.
Parnsip and apple soup
Baked apple pakoras with spiced apple chutney
Sausage and apple casserole
Rough puff mini apple hand pies
Apple crumble pie
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
In order to enjoy optimum flavour and quality, frozen items are best used within 3 months of their freezing date. For more tips on freezing and defrosting food, read our article Love Your Freezer.