Preserving Apples

applesI know you all thought that October’s Can Jam would be apples, which, of course, would have been wonderful, since I still have 20 lbs in the garage awaiting preservation. Some were thrilled with my pick of chiles (although none more than I!) while others, not so much. As a consolation prize of sorts, I’ve done my own round-up of apple preserving recipes, tips & techniques (just in time for apple season to be over here in the Northeast. Don’t say I never gave you anything.).

Have a great apple recipe to share? Shout it out in the comments below!

applesPreserving Apples

COLD STORAGE

Basics: Store apples for months in a cold (32 – 40 degrees F), preferably humid (80 – 90% rh) spot, either in a refrigerator, a root cellar, or even a basement or garage.

Details: Some apple types keep better than others: lists abound on the Interwebs but I find they are no substitute for personal experience (for instance, Stayman-Winesaps are rumored to be excellent keepers, but mine did not last a month). Apples need air circulation (so don’t bury them in woodchips or sand, like you might for potatoes & onions) and a bad apple will quickly spoil the bunch, so check through them regularly. Last year I stored apples from the end of October to the end of February; granted, they were quite wrinkly by then, but still tasty in chutney.

FREEZE

Basics: Core, peel and slice apples for their intended use (pie, for example); toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Pile into a Ziploc bag if you don’t mind them sticking together a bit upon freezing; otherwise individually quick-freeze slices, spread out on a plate or tray in the freezer, then pile into a bag once frozen. Alternatively you can freeze prepared pie filling or applesauce (I have made pies from frozen apple pie filling and I think that canned pie filling works better; freezing the apples breaks the cellular structure of the fruit, releasing more juice once the apples thaw, and seems to make for a very soggy pie). You can also freeze apple “leavings” (the cores and peels leftover from various recipes) until you gather enough for a batch of apple pectin stock.

dried-applesDRY

Basics:  Wash, core and slice apples,  laying slices individually, without touching, on the trays of a dehydrator, or on baking sheets. Dry in the dehydrator at 135 degrees F for 12-18 hours, or in your oven as low as it will go (range is usually 150 – 200 degrees F) and start checking at 8 hours. Store in airtight containers for up to 1 year.

Details: I like my dried apples unpeeled; you can peel them if you like. I also do not treat to prevent browning; they only brown slightly while drying, and it is not unappealing. This is certainly the easiest way to preserve apples and they last quite a long time; I’m just now using the last of the fall’s 110 lb harvest (perfect timing if I do say so myself) and while they have softened a bit over a year’s storage in Ziploc bags, they are just as tasty as they were last November. How dry you make them is a matter of preference, but the drier they are, the longer they will store; I dry mine until they are leathery, but still flexible, and they last at least a year.

Use: In homemade granola, in muffins, quickbreads or scones, rehydrated in a marinade or dressing, or solo as a snack. Also, I am always surprised by how much people love these as a gift; so simple, yet people consistently ask for more.

apple-pieCAN

FERMENT

You can, of course, also ferment apple juice into apple wine and apple cider into hard cider (I just haven’t attempted this yet. Oh, but when I get an apple tree with actual, reachable fruit – watch out!)

AROUND THE WEB

SEASON

Fall.

11 comments

  1. thank you!!!! we are still getting about 10 lbs a week here and i can’t eat them fast enough- so far there is about 15 qts of applesauce in the pantry; 2 qts of dried; one pie in the freezer; 4 pints of pie filling in freezer; 5 pints of apple preserves (which taste just like pie filling) in the pantry and about a million apples whole on the counter!

  2. Ann

    Almost a year late but this is JUST what I’ve been looking for! I’ve a garden full of apples to store – though I tend to leave lots for the birds to eat over the winter. I usually just store somewhere cool and dark but hate how lots end up being thrown away when they go brown. Thanks so much!

  3. Love this blog post – I know I’m a couple of years late but I’ve just found it. We’re in the southern hemisphere and so our apple season is now well under way and I now know what to do with all the apples from my tree. Thanks.

  4. Leslie

    Recently found your blog and I’m so happy I have! It has fabulous recipes and such a lot of great information. I was wondering how thin you slice your apples for drying. I’ve never made them but would like to this weekend. Thanks!

    • Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for the kind words! As for the apples, I usually go just a bit smaller than 1/4-inch, but it doesn’t matter all that much; if you slice them quite thin, they will dry more quickly to a crisp texture. If you leave them thicker, they take longer to dry, but maintain a softer, leathery texture once dry.

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