Apples: storing and preserving
Storing apples in the refrigerator
In Minnesota, apples are at their peak of production between August and mid-October. For best results, store apples in a cool, dark place. If refrigerated, they will remain crisp and juicy longer. Keep them in the refrigerator's humidity controlled compartment, or in plastic bags with small air holes to keep a high moisture level.
Two ways to prevent darkening of cut apples
Cut apples darken quickly when they are exposed to air. Prevent darkening by:
- Sprinkle with commercially prepared ascorbic acid products on the apples will keep them fresh-looking for cooking or preserving.
- Dip cut apples in a solution of three tablespoons of bottled lemon juice mixed with one quart of water. This method is not as effective as the commercial ascorbic acid products.
Home canning apples
When canning slices, sauce and sweet spreads, use high quality apples without signs of decay. Do not can "windfall apples" (fruit that has blown off the tree) because they are likely to contain mold spores which can result in spoilage. Choose apples that are juicy, crisp and preferably both sweet and tart. For safety and best quality, hot-pack all home-canned apple products and process in a boiling water bath for the specified times. NOTE: open-kettle canning (putting hot food into a jar, covering with a canning lid and not further processing it in a boiling water bath canner) of any product is NOT safe!
Choose apples that are juicy, crisp and preferably both sweet and tart.
Why do I have to process apples or applesauce in a canner?
If the top surface of home-canned applesauce turns brown, it is probably due to oxygen reacting with the sauce and turning brown. This usually happens because the sauce was not processed for the proper length of time. Processing kills spoilage organisms and drives out all the air, which contains oxygen.
To prevent browning and destroy spoilage organisms, always process for the recommended time for Minnesota altitudes:
- Boiling-water bath canner —20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts;
- However, you can freeze unsweetened apple slices if you are going to cook or bake them in pies or cobblers.
- Freeze slices on a cookie sheet; when they are frozen solid, remove the slices and pack in freezer containers.
Reviewed by Lou Ann Jopp, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2011.