One fruit has what it takes to keep for many a long month, just for us to savor it deep into the heart of winter: the apple.
The epitome of fruits that can be preserved, apples can be stored in pristine condition until Christmas and even later.
From harvest to storage, here are the rules to follow for an optimum preservation of your apples.
Apple varieties that keep well
Choosing your apple variety is important, because not all varieties keep equally well.
Even though all apple types can keep for several months if stored properly, some varieties are more stable, even lasting from fall to spring.
Here are apple tree cultivars that keep extremely well:
- ‘Belle de Boskoop’
- ‘Belle fille de Salins’
- ‘Calville blanc d’hiver’
- ‘Delbard Jubile’
- ‘Pentecost apple’
- ‘Reinette de brive’
- ‘Reinette de Caux’
- one more Reinette: ‘Reinette de Cuzy’
- ‘Canada Gray Reinette’
- ‘Reinette de Saintonge’
There are still many more since the number of varieties of apples is impressive: some have listed over 1,000!
Harvesting the apples
This is one of the most important steps if you’re aiming to keep your apples for a long time.
No point in collecting apples that have fallen to the ground, they are wounded and would only keep for a couple days. You must eat them quickly or bake clafoutis, apple crumble or jam.
You must collect the apples directly from the tree, and they must be carefully chosen and picked in dry weather.
- Choose apples that are neither too green nor too ripe.
- Lifting the apple up delicately, rotate it by a quarter turn.
- If the apple breaks off from the tree, it is ready to harvest.
- Place it lovingly in its basket to avoid wounding it.
Selecting the apples that will keep best
To ensure that each apple is perfect and doesn’t bear any trace of disease or fungus, a first step is to segregate the “1st class” apples.
- Spread the apples out, ensuring that they don’t touch to avoid spread of any later contamination.
- Check on the apples over the next few days.
- Remove apples that show signs of weakness (darkening, coloring, browning, spots, etc…).
- Segregate the most beautiful apples, those that look in perfect condition.
Storing and keeping apples for the winter
This step will determine the proper keeping of your apple, since, in proper storage conditions, you’ll be able to keep them past Christmas, even until spring.
- Spread the apples out on crates, trays or shelves, again ensuring that they don’t come in contact with one another.
- Ensure that air circulates well around the apples.
- Store crates in the dark, away from moisture and ideally at a temperature of around 50°F (10°C).
- Inspect your apples regularly to quickly remove those that deteriorate first.
With these guidelines, you should be able to keep your apples for many long months, and thus enjoy fresh fruits in winter.
Smart tip about keeping apples
In many monasteries across Europe, you’ll find a curious niche in the thick stone walls.
- In the walls of wide, cool, unheated corridors, between two large horizontal slabs of rock, an arm-deep hole about a foot high and several feet long (30 by 100 cm) appears.
- To this day, this is where monks store their apples!
- Each apple is spaced six inches (15 cm) from the next. Even if one rots, it won’t contaminate the others.
- As they meditated on the way to their cloister garden, each monk would reach in and grab an apple for precious winter vitamins!