Do You Really Have to Refrigerate Apples?

As the weather is turning cooler and the autumn leaves are changing to beautiful shades of red and orange, it is not just a signal that it is time for pumpkin spice everything. It is also apple harvesting season! If you are anything like me, you will have an abundance of fresh, crisp bushels all the way to the holidays. This brings about an important question: do apples need to be refrigerated?

Now, you definitely want to do everything you can to keep those delicious apples nice and crunchy. Refrigeration might come to mind immediately. Afterall, the cool environment is known to preserve perishables. However, keep in mind the refrigerators are also a moist environment, which can significantly speed up the ripening of the fruit (source).

Keep Your Cool

It is actually a big debate whether you should refrigerate apples or not. The bottom line is, you do not really have to. But should you?

The great thing about apples is that they will keep fine without refrigeration. This makes for a great snack to take along camping or to pack for lunch. They will hold up fine without any form of cool storage.

However, keeping them at room temperature will be good for apples to keep for a few weeks – around a couple of weeks is a good estimate (source). If you have a large amount of apples on hand and cannot consume all of them at once, keeping them in the fridge will in fact extend that shelf life significantly.

According to some sources, you can even keep apples good for six months or even more if you store them in a temperature between 30º to 40º F, with high humidity. This is an interesting theory, though I’ve never had the chance to try it yet, since these conditions are not commonly achieved with regular home appliances.

An Apple a Day

It is all about timing with fresh fruits. If you’ve gone an picked your own apples at your local orchard, you know you have your produce at its best and freshest.

However, most of the time, we only go as far as the grocery store for our fruits, making it a lot harder to gauge how long they will keep, based on when they were picked.

If you are buying from your neighborhood farmer’s market, do not hesitate to chat up your friendly farmer. They will be more than happy to give you the lowdown on apple picking dates – and their offerings will definitely be nice and freshly picked.

The farther you get from the orchard, the trickier it gets to figure out when the apple was picked, and therefore until when you can keep it fresh. With supermarket bought apples, often the best you can go with are the sell by dates.

  • Fun fact: those stickers with the sell by dates are (supposed to be) edible! Well, they are food safe, at the very least.

One Bad Apple

There are a few signs that will tell you if your apples are going bad. Overripe apples will have bruises or discoloration. Their skin might even go a bit wrinkly.

Inside, an overripe apple might be a bit soft to bite and have a grainy texture (source).

A good rule of thumb is that the firmer apple varieties like the tart Granny Smiths will hold up longer than softer varieties like the Golden Delicious (source).

It would also be interesting to note that apples should be stored in containers separate from other fruits and vegetables. They give off ethylene, a gas that causes produce to spoil faster. If your refrigerator has a separate compartment, store your apples in there. Otherwise, a sealed plastic bag will do the trick (source).

Apple of My Eye

What to do with all your apples before they go rotten? Make your apples last so much longer by dehydrating them. Homemade apple chips are easy to make and so much better than store bought brands. If you make them on your own, you will know exactly what goes into them and they definitely will not contain any preservatives.

All you have to do is slice your fresh apples into very thin rounds. If you do not have the knife skills, a mandoline would be great for this. You can choose to leave the peel on or off. Pop out the seeds carefully.

Toss your apple slices with cinnamon sugar. I love adding an extra kick of cinnamon. It makes the chips taste like apple pie!

Pop the slices into a dehydrator and let them sit for six to eight hours, or until they are dried and crisp. If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply preheat your oven to 200ºF. Bake your apple slices for an hour, flip them over, and bake them for another hour or two. Store your apple chips in an airtight container (source). For a more detailed step by step, cook along with this video:

As for overripe apples, don’t through them out just yet. Just like browning bananas in banana bread, overripe apples can still be wonderful in applesauce which all ages will enjoy a nice warm bowl of on a cold, chilly night. For a unique little twist, try making some smooth apple butter. Check out some more great overripe apples here.

Do you have any favorite apple recipes that you are looking forward to making this harvest season? Share them with us in the comments below!

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