How Long Do Apples Last: Exploring the Shelf Life of an Apple

How long do apples last? That’s the ultimate question for any apple-loving, apple-pie-baking, applesauce-making chef who’s just bought a bag of apples from the store!

Once you’ve got them home, your delicious Granny Smith or Golden Delicious isn’t going to stay juicy and fresh forever. Apples do go bad, and when they do, the only place for them is the compost heap. 

Most apples only last a week, tops, but with a few tips and tricks (and the help of a refrigerator), you can stop apples from going brown, turning moldy or mealy, or going off for much, much longer. In this article, we explore the shelf life of an apple, explaining why they go bad and what you can do to slow it down!

What’s the shelf life of an apple?

A spoiled apple is a useless apple. Bad apples are not only foul-tasting but if there’s mold or bacteria growing, they can actually make you ill. But when do apples go bad, and exactly how long does it take for an apple to rot or turn moldy? 

It depends on where you sourced your apples. If the apple is organic and has been freshly picked from your garden’s apple tree or a nearby farm or apple orchard, then you have time on your side. These apples will last for at least two or three weeks at room temperature before they start to turn. 

However, if you’ve picked up a bag of apples from the grocery store, you’ve got much less time. These apples would have been picked several months ago and kept in storage before being shipped to the store. Once you get them home, they only last a week at room temperature, max, before they start rotting. 

How do they make apples last so long? 

So why do apples expire after a few weeks if they are organically grown and picked, but grocery store apples can be several months old by the time you get them? Shouldn’t they have already rotted? 

Mass-produced apples are kept in very specific conditions, and this allows us to have access to apples all year round - even in winter. 

Once picked, the apples are cleaned, then given a waxy (yet edible) outer coating that keeps moisture in and prevents them from spoiling quickly. The apples are kept in rigid, temperature-controlled locations, where they can last for months. 

How can I make my apples last longer? 

Okay, so you’ll be wondering how to keep apples from turning brown and going moldy once you get them home. In fact, you can use the same principles apple-growers use to keep apples fresh even after months of long-term storage. 

While an apple begins to lose its freshness and starts to rot after a week at room temperature, it’s going to last much longer in your fridge. If you don’t want to be eating a wrinkled apple, we suggest storing it in your refrigerator!

When temperature-controlled, the apple can last for several weeks once it’s been brought home from the store. You can even freeze apples if you’re looking to store them for several months. They need to be able to thaw naturally on the side when it’s time to eat them again, and they can lose their juiciness - but freezing is also a great way to store cooking apples that are going to be baked or turned into applesauce later on! 

How to tell if apples are bad? 

So how can you tell if your apples have gone bad? In most cases, it’s going to be pretty obvious. There will be a foul smell, it will look rotten or moldy, and it’s not going to be in any way appetizing!

Sometimes, however, it can be difficult distinguishing bruising (which is perfectly fine) from browning, or the apple could look great on the outside but be completely rotten inside. In all cases, though, there will be a few telltale signs to look out for, even if it’s not overwhelmingly obvious after a quick visual inspection.

The following are all signs that your apple has gone bad:

  • Soft or mushy to touch
  • Soft spots under the peel
  • Wrinkly exterior
  • Holes in the apple peel
  • Brown skin inside or out
  • Obvious discoloration
  • Foul, rotting smells 
  • Mold, furriness, or other growths 

What happens if you eat a bad apple? 

Just because your apples are starting to go brown or mealy doesn’t mean they just aren’t edible - they just aren’t exactly appetizing! 

They’ll be all right for a day or so after they’ve started to turn, but they become much better-suited to cooking or baking rather than snacking. 

However, if you suspect the apple is rotting, or are in any way concerned about its edibility, play it safe and throw it in the food waste bin. When an apple starts to rot, there are going to be bacteria and other microorganisms present. These can cause illness if consumed (and food poisoning is not fun!). 

How long do sliced apples last? 

Apples that have been sliced or skinned with an apple peeler aren’t going to last as long as a fresh apple in its original state. Once sliced, the soft juicy inside of the apple is exposed to the outside world, and it starts to turn brown.

Soon enough, the sliced apples will be rotting, foul-tasting, and not so pleasant (or safe) to eat. The transition is remarkably quick, too, and a sliced apple will start turning brown after just two hours. While it’s still safe at this point, it doesn’t look appetizing!

You should store sliced and peeled apples in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Here, they’ll last three or four days. Likewise, you can seal them and freeze them for long-term storage. 

How long do apples last: the final say 

Fresh, organic apples will last for a few weeks when kept at room temperature and much longer in the refrigerator. Store-bought apples will last for at least a week at room temperature, but we recommend storing them in the refrigerator to increase their longevity. 

Remember, while apples that are just starting to turn brown might not be appetizing as a snack, they still cook or bake fantastically well. Rather than throwing them out at the first sign, try turning the apples into an apple pie or applesauce!

Why not bookmark our guide to apples, so you know for how long apples stay fresh?