How to Store Apples for the Long Term

Store-bought apples can last for weeks at a time if they are stored correctly, while freshly harvested apples straight from the tree have the potential to last several months. However, to realize the longevity of an apple, you need to know how to store apples correctly!

In this article, we’ll be exploring the best ways to keep your apples fresh and where to store apples in your home for the longest-lasting results. If you’ve got a fresh harvest on the way or just bought a big bag of apples on special at the local grocery store, then keep reading to find out how to store apples for the long term!

How long do apples last? 

Apples have the potential to last for a long time, but the lifespan of an apple can vary drastically from one fruit to the next. Different varieties of apples can last longer than others, but the major difference actually comes down to where you’ve sourced your apples from.

The reason for this is that apples from the store will have been kept in storage for several months before you pick them out and take them home. Apples are kept fresh in temperature-controlled environments and through the use of waxy protective sprays. Modern storage methods can keep an apple fresh for several months at a time. 

When your apple hits the store, though, it’s already well into its lifespan, and it won’t last more than 3 to 6 weeks once it’s at home (presuming it’s kept in the optimum conditions, too). Apples that have been picked fresh from your personal apple trees or orchard, or apples that have been sourced straight from the farmer (and have just been harvested) can last for several weeks longer and can even be kept fresh over the entire winter season (again, they need to be stored correctly!). 

However, it’s impossible to know exactly how long an apple is going to last. At the store, you have no way of knowing how long the apple was in storage - you may get lucky and purchase a freshly picked apple! In general, though, store-bought apples won’t last as long at home as apples that have been freshly harvested.

How to keep apples fresh, for longer

The first tip, when learning how to keep apples from turning brown or going moldy, is to remember to keep them whole. Apples last longest when they are intact, which means no slicing or using the apple peeler until you’re ready to actually eat them!

Regardless of whether your apple is store-bought or hand-picked from your apple tree, they last longest when they are in cool conditions. Apples deteriorate faster when they are in direct sunlight or subject to warm conditions. The temperature is incredibly important, so they are best kept in a cool, dark pantry, or better yet, in the refrigerator. 

Should apples be refrigerated? 

While you can store apples in the pantry, the best option is to keep apples in the fridge. At room temperature, an apple from the store has a lifespan of as little as 1 week. In the pantry, this lifespan goes up to 3 weeks, but in the refrigerator, it goes up to as much as 6 weeks or more.

The refrigerator helps to keep your apples fresh by keeping them temperature-controlled (much like how farmers keep their apples fresh for months at a time). You can extend their lifespan further by storing the apples in sealed plastic bags whilst they are in the refrigerator - try to keep them airtight! 

How to store apples long term outside the refrigerator 

However, we understand that you might not have space in the refrigerator for a big pile of apples, and that’s fair enough; there are more pressing kitchen ingredients that usually need the fridge space. 

If you don’t have enough space for keeping apples in the fridge, then store them in the coolest, darkest places you can find. Good options include the pantry, the garage, the basement or cellar, or the coolest cupboards in the kitchen. 

You may be asking yourself “what is the best way to store apples outside the fridge?”. Well, you might not have expected this, but one of the best methods is to wrap them up in newspaper. This helps to protect them and keep them fresher for longer. If you can, wrap each apple individually, and place them carefully into a box. 

Be selective, too, when you’re choosing apples in the store or selecting them for long term storage. Apples that are showing signs of bruising or moldiness should be eaten immediately, rather than stored with the others. Look for firm, crisp apples with no signs of discoloration or bruising. 

Should you wash apples before storing them?

Never wash your apples before storing them! This is the quickest way to shorten their lifespan. You only ever need to wash apples just before you’re about to eat them.

Apples have a protective layer of wax that covers their outer skin, and it’s this wax that protects them from outside influences - microbes, oxidation, etc. Apples have a natural layer of wax, but often, the farmer or supplier adds a protective layer of artificial wax to ensure they can last longer. 

Wash the apple, and you’re removing their protection from outside elements. 

How to store cut apples 

If you’re storing cut apples, then you have to store them in the refrigerator. As soon as you cut into an apple or remove its peel, you’re instantly subjecting it to oxidation. Apples that have been cut turn brown very quickly (in a matter of hours or less!). 

As soon as they have been cut, the apple slices need to be placed into a ziplock bag or airtight container, where they are protected against further oxidation. If you can, it’s a good idea to tightly wrap the slices in plastic wrap to further protect them. In the fridge, cut apples will last for at least 3 days, but not much longer.

If you’ve prepared too many apples in advance, then consider turning your cut apples into an apple stew or applesauce. Cooking the apples will ensure they don’t go to waste, and you can save the resulting dish for much longer (or freeze it for several months). 

Are some apples better for long term storage than others? 

Some varieties of apples are better for long term storage than others. It generally depends on their shape and texture, primarily how thick their protective skin is. 

Great apples for long term storage include large cooking apples, such as Granny Smith or Bramley apples!

How to store apples for the long term: the final say 

Store-bought apples can last for weeks at a time if they are stored correctly, so it’s important to keep them wrapped up or kept in the fridge!

Harvested apples can last even longer, so if you have your own apple trees or make your purchase straight from the supplier, your apples can be kept in great shape for months. 

If you’ve got a bulk buy of apples in the pantry, then why not bookmark our guide to storing apples for the long term?