Should You Refrigerate Apples to Keep Them Fresh?
Whether you prefer Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, or heirloom varietals, there are many types of apples to choose from at the grocery store or farmers' market. No matter your favorite, the ideal apple will be crisp, juicy, sweet, and maybe a little tart, depending on the variety. But how long will it stay that way when you bring it home? We talked to two experts to find out how to keep apples fresh for as long as possible, including whether refrigerating them is the best way to store apples.
Our apple authorities are Ken Wortz, the head distiller for Sauvage Distillery in Charlottesville, N.Y., which recently launched Upstate Vodka made entirely from New York State apples, and chef Laura Scheck, founder of Teaching Table, which inspires home cooks to cook more, shop less, and waste nothing through personalized lessons and hands-on cooking workshops.
The Best Way to Store Apples
Like other pome fruits such as pears and quince, apples should generally be kept in a cool, dry, shaded place, says Wortz. Scheck adds that "the best place to store apples is going to depend on your own environmental conditions (such as how warm or humid it is in your home), for how long you want to store the apples, and where and how you store other vegetables." For example, if you happen to have a low-temperature root cellar, apples can last up to 10 months down there.
Refrigerator vs. Countertop
If you want to increase the shelf life of your apples, Wortz and Scheck agree that the crisper drawer of your refrigerator is a great place to store apples. "They can last six to eight weeks stored in a refrigerator," says Wortz. Scheck adds that if your room temperature is on the warm side, the refrigerator is ideal for storing apples even for shorter periods. Still, not refrigerating them won't immediately ruin them—they can still last one to two weeks on the counter.
Keep Them Away From Other Fruits
"Apples release the gaseous hormone ethylene, which will cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen faster, especially if the apples themselves are bruised or overripe," says Scheck. "If you don't want to encourage ripening of other produce, store apples in a plastic tub or a bag in the fridge, or in their own produce drawer." If they're on the counter, they can be stored in their own bowl, away from other fruits, or in a paper bag, she adds.
One Bad Apple...
"Be sure to remove blemishes or consume apples with bruises and blemishes quickly, as these will encourage the remaining apples to rot," says Scheck. Wortz agrees: "If you are storing many apples together, it is good to keep checking them as one bad apple will also ruin the others."
How Long Can Apples Last?
"Store-bought apples have already been stored and spent time in transit," says Wortz. "If they are kept in cold storage they can be good for months from the date they are picked. Once you buy them, though, they will last one week out of the refrigerator and six to eight weeks in the refrigerator."
Once apples are cut, Scheck says they should be put in the fridge as soon as possible. And to prevent browning, "wrap them tightly in plastic or beeswax wrap and consume within a few days," she says. "Or, squeeze some lemon juice on them."
Preventing Food Waste
"Use your blemished or bruised apples right away (removing and discarding the bruised parts, of course)," says Scheck. "If you can't eat the apples right away, cook them down into an applesauce or compote that can be used later for a pie or turnover filling, or juice them and freeze the juice for another day. Just use them!"