How to Store Apples and Keep Them Fresh
Whether you picked apples at an orchard or bought them at the store, learn how to store apples to keep them crisp and fresh.
If you’ve been wondering how to store apples, keep reading. We found the best tips and tricks to keep fruit as fresh and flavorful as the day it was picked. (You’ll need ’em for these fresh-picked apple recipes!)
To start, choose the best apples. I’ve found that some apples keep better than others—specifically, apples that are more tart. Choose apple types like Granny Smith, McIntosh, Fuji, Rome, Northern Spy or Winesap. The thicker skin on these apples also helps them last longer.
From picking to storage, handle apples as gently as you would an egg. Don’t drop apples into bags or send them tumbling onto countertops. This will damage the skins and bruise the flesh—both of which will speed the production of ethylene gas that makes apples rot.
How to Store Apples (Whole)
The ideal environment for storage is a humid spot with a temperature between 30-35° F. For a small number of apples, the crisper drawer in your fridge is a great storage spot. To increase humidity, apples should be in a plastic bag with holes, or be covered with a damp paper towel.
How to Store Apples (Cut)
Your cut and sliced apples should be stored in resealable bags or airtight containers, and kept in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Yes, sliced apples will begin to turn brown as soon as you slice them—but you can easily prevent the browning.
How to Prevent Cut Apples from Browning
Though apple slices that have turned brown are technically fine to eat, they don’t look appetizing. (No kid I know will eat brown apple slices!) The browning is caused by a chemical reaction: enzymes in the cut surface oxidize when exposed to air. The good news is there are a few items in your pantry that can keep cut apples looking fresh:
- Salt water: Use 1/4 teaspoon salt to two cups of water. Soak apple slices in the salt water for a few minutes, then rinse before serving or storing. This brine keeps browning at bay for up to a week.
- Lemon juice: Tossing cut apples in lemon juice will keep them from browning. It will also impart extra tartness and lemon flavor to the apples. Use these slices in lunchboxes and on fruit platters, or in sweet recipes like apple crisps and pies. Sliced apples tossed in lemon juice will start to brown again after a few hours.
- Lemon-lime soda: This trick is a favorite of the Taste of Home food styling team. Soak cut apples in lemon-lime soda, like 7-Up or Sprite, for about 10 minutes. Drain them just before using. Since the flavor is neutral, the fruit needs no additional rinsing. Apples soaked in the lemon-lime soda will look good for a couple of days.
Can You Freeze Apples?
Yes! You can freeze apples whole or sliced. Freezing apples will preserve them for several months. Since freezing changes the texture of apples, making them softer, they’re best used in cooking, baking or in smoothies.
Whole apples: The benefit here is that you don’t have to do as much prep work beforehand. Wash and dry them well, then freeze them in a single layer on a tray. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and seal.
Sliced apples: Prepping and slicing beforehand makes it easier to thaw what you need for use in recipes. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into large slices. Toss the slices in lemon juice or soak them in salt water, then rinse. Freeze the slices in a single layer, and once frozen, store sealed in freezer bags.
Tips from the Test Kitchen
How do you keep apples fresh longer?
Choose small apples, as they last longer than larger ones. Any apples that have bruises or nicks should be moved away from the rest, and used right away before they spoil. Keeping apples in a cool place will also help them stay fresh.
How long do apples last in the fridge?
When stored properly in the refrigerator, your apples can last six to eight weeks. Learn more about how long produce lasts in the fridge.
Do apples last longer on the counter or in the fridge?
Kept at room temperature, whole apples will only stay fresh for about a week. The fridge is the best place to make your apples last.
Do apples make other fruits and veggies go bad faster?
Yes! Apples give off ethylene gas as they ripen, and this gas will make other produce go bad more quickly. Store other produce away from apples. Don’t miss the other produce mistakes you may be making!
What’s the best way to store apples for winter?
A cold cellar or garage are great choices for long-term winter storage of apples, as long as the temperature won’t go below freezing. Wrap each apple in newspaper and store them in single layers in a dry location. Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch, though. Check the apples often throughout the winter, and discard any that are beginning to rot.