The easiest way to preserve apples… is not to preserve them at all but to store your apples properly in autumn so that they last into winter. The fact that apples keep has made them a mainstay of the homesteading tradition and storing them is so much easier than turning them into sauce, jelly or drying them on a rack. This technique is also good for quinces, pears and medlars too, and especially good for those of us who start freaking out with the amount of autumn bounty that needs bottling this time of year!
So. Here’s how to store apples…
Step one: sort your good apples from your bad apples. It is actually true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch so be really picky – any apples with even the tiniest bruise or signs of spoilage should be popped on the bad apple pile and made into jelly, cake, sauce, or just eaten quickly with the bad bits cut out! It’s also worth noting that some apples store better than others: tart, thick skinned varieties store better than thin-skinned sweeties. A good keeper should last for at least three months.
Step two: wrap your apples in recycled paper (old paper bags, tissue or even newspaper work well). This is so your stored apples won’t be touching each other – they give off ethylene gas which helps them to ripen, so you don’t really want them super close together and getting all ripe on each other. The paper also protects the rest if one good apple decides to go rogue and rotten on you. Oh, and did we mention it makes a sweet little lunchbox snack, pre-wrapped for extra surprise?!
Step three: store them in ventilated boxes in a cool, dark place if you have a cellar, then good for you! If not, a cool spot in the shed, pantry or under the bed will suffice. Or why not build the cool room featured (with plans) in Pip issue 5? We snaffled some apple boxes and dimply apple holders from the lovely folk at our local grocer to store our apples. If you’re storing different cultivars it’s best to keep them stored separately as they will ripen at different rates. Oh, and do not store them anywhere near potatoes, unless you want them to ripen in a hurry.