If you’ve recently made a trip to Bauer’s Market and happily brought home a bushel or more of apples, you probably found yourself wondering what you’re going to do with them all. While it may have seemed great at the time to fill your cart with the glistening, fresh produce, it can possibly be overwhelming to think of how to get rid of them all in the short while they will last. The truth is, apples can last much longer than we’ve always thought. It all boils down to how they are stored.
When purchasing apples in the store, we traditionally see them stored on the shelves, far from any refrigeration. Due to this, it can be easily believed that this is the best way to store them at home too. In reality, we roll all our retail bins into a 37℉ cooler every night. This 2-story cooler also holds all the bins of freshly picked apples, straight from the local orchard, that haven’t been bagged yet too.
While keeping a few apples on the counter is a great idea to promote healthy snacking, their ability keep is limited to only a short time. Apples left on the counter can usually only be expected to last roughly a week or so, depending on the variety. Apples stored in the fridge, however, can have a lifespan of 1-2 months or more (Haralson, Cameo, HoneyCrisp all can be kept for 6+ months with proper home refrigeration)!
Why Apples Need Refrigeration
Apples, like many fruits and vegetables, continue to ripen even after they are picked. This is due to their production of ethylene gas. Ethylene is responsible for not just ripening the fruit though, but can also lead to quicker decay, depending on how much of it is produced and how fast.
In the warmer temperatures and the lighter conditions on our counters, the production of ethylene is much faster, meaning our fruits rot faster. In cooler, darker temperatures though – like those found in the refrigerator – the production of the gas is slowed significantly, so our fruits can stay fresher for much longer.
Refrigerating Your Apples
To get the best performance out of your refrigerated apples, here are a few of our top tips to have them tasting their best for as long as possible:
Use the crisper drawer. Just like many of your other delicious fruits and veggies, apples will be happiest if kept in the controlled climate of the crisper drawer.
Keep them away from other fruits and vegetables. Not all fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas, and those that don’t can often have quite an unhappy reaction when faced with its super-ripening capabilities. Additionally, those other fruits and vegetables that do produce it may cause trouble for your apples by giving them more than they bargained for. It’s best to keep your apples alone to prevent either tragedy.
Use blemished apples right away, rather than storing. Apples with bruises and cuts will rot much faster than those without blemishes and will spoil those around them as they go. This doesn’t mean that they need to be destined for the composter though. You can still enjoy their delicious flavor, fresh or cooked, just use them first. Consider making a pan of apple crisp or break out the slow cooker and throw in your cored apples (leaving the peels or not, whichever you choose) with some cinnamon and enjoy fresh applesauce!
Give them plenty of air. Many people believe their apples will do best in a plastic bag, but apples need air circulation to help them breathe and to keep them from suffocating in ethylene. If you do prefer to keep them in a bag, for whatever reason, simply rip the bag down lengthwise to let the apples breathe.
When you bring home a bushel of apples, you shouldn’t have to devour them all in a week or two. While you can always come to visit us for a new bag every week, you can also savor the flavor longer by storing them in the fridge to enjoy fresh snacks and delicious cooking throughout the season.