Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit: delicious by themselves or cooked into applesauce or apple butter, a great companion for everything from pork to pumpkin, and part of meals from breakfast to dessert.
In the fall, apples are inexpensive and plentiful, and they are easily stored for use throughout the year.
But can you freeze apples? And is freezing the best way to preserve apples?
Today we’ll explore the best ways to store and use these family favorite fruits.
Can You Freeze Apples?
Yes, you can freeze whole apples. Simply wash them well, then place whole, unpeeled apples on a cookie sheet, and place the sheet in the freezer.
Once they are completely frozen, place them in freezer bags for long term storage and write the date on the freezer bag.
If frozen apples are well cleaned and well-sealed, they will last for a year or more in the freezer.
Freezing apples individually before placing them in bags helps keep them from freezing together in a clump, so later you can remove them from the freezer one apple at a time.
How to Thaw Frozen Apples
The best way to thaw frozen apples depends mostly on how you intend to use them.
How To thaw frozen apples for baking
Simply move them from the freezer to the fridge and let them thaw slowly, at least overnight.
Slow thawing preserves the apple’s tissues, preventing the apples from having excess moisture and a soggy, bruised texture when used in baking.
How To thaw frozen apples for cooking
If you will be cooking your apples into apple sauce, apple butter, jelly, or the like, you can place them in cool or lukewarm water until they are thawed enough to slice, and then use the partially thawed frozen apples just like fresh ones.
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How Best to Preserve Apples
Now, just because you can freeze clean whole apples with their skin doesn’t mean you should.
Even frozen apples bruise easily with pressure and handling, and, once defrosted, they are likely to brown very quickly.
Depending on the type of apple, and your storing and defrosting methods, your thawed apples may be brown and spongy, not pale and crisp like fresh apples.
Here is the best way to make sure your apples last, and preserve their color and texture:
Peel, core, and slice your apples
Prevent browning and oxidation while you work. While you are peeling and coring, protect your sliced apples from browning.
In other words, the moment you have sliced the apple, protect it from browning while you move on to the next apple.
There are several ways to prevent apple browning, and here are the most popular:
The lemon juice method
Take a large bowl and fill it with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of cold water
The ascorbic acid method
Ascorbic acid is simply concentrated vitamin C and works on the same principle as lemon juice.
It can be purchased in the canning section of the grocery store.
For a few apples, mix ½ tsp of ascorbic acid with 3 tbsps. of water in a bowl.
For a lot of apples, add 1 tbsp of ascorbic acid to a gallon of water in a bowl (or follow the instructions on the package)
The Fruit Fresh method
Fruit Fresh is another canning supply easily found at the grocery store, and it is primarily made of citric acid and works the same way as lemon juice.
For a few apple slices, just sprinkle the Fruit Fresh powder on the apples.
For a large quantity, mix 2 tsp Fruit Fresh with 2 tbsp of water, and toss the slices in the liquid
Immerse apple slices in preservative
No matter what method you are using, it’s important to coat every apple slice with the preserving solution, and prevent the slices from oxidizing while you peel and core the rest of your apples.
Some people place a plate in the bowl over the apple slices, to keep them submerged in the solution.
Freeze the slices individually
Once all your apples are cored, peeled, sliced, and coated in a preservative that prevents oxidation, you can lay the individual slices out on a cookie sheet and freeze them.
After they are frozen, they can be placed together in a freezer bag or other air-tight container, labeled with the date, and kept for up to a year.
Freezing apples in slices make them much faster and easier to use than thawing whole apples and keeps them fresh, crispy, and delicious for longer.
**Wondering what to do with your left-over asparagus? Find out if you can freeze it in our detailed guide here!!**
Can you freeze whole apples with skin?
You can freeze apple slices with skin if you want, but you shouldn’t freeze the whole fruit.
Sliced apples freeze and thaw more quickly, preventing them from getting brown and mushy.
Can you freeze apples for pie?
Yes, you can freeze apples for pie.
Frozen apples make delicious pie, and freezing allows you to work efficiently and plan head. Here’s how to freeze apples for pie:
Follow the above steps of peeling, coring, slicing, and preserving your apples.
Par-cook the apples
Par-cooking the apples prevents them from shrinking in the pie, so your apple pie will be chock full of apples, without a big empty gap inside the crust.
The par-cooking method differs depending on how far in advance you are freezing your slices.
To par-cook apple slices for long-term storage:
- Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer.
- Poach your apple slices for 3-5 minutes, until they are lightly tender.
- Remove from the water and immerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
- Then pat them dry, place on a cookie sheet, and freeze them.
- Once they are frozen, place them in an airtight container and keep them frozen for months.
To par-cook apple slices for short-term storage:
Although apples will last in the freezer for a long time, spices and seasonings won’t.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and other apple pie spices will lose their flavor in the freezer, so apple pie filling shouldn’t be stored frozen for more than a few days.
With this method:
- Sauté your apple slices with sugar, spices, butter, or any other ingredients you would use in your apple pie filling.
- Remove the filling from the heat, and place in a parchment-lined pie pan.
- Freeze the filling in the pie pan.
- Once it is frozen, remove it from the pie pan and place it in a freezer bag or airtight container.
That way, your pie filling is ready to use the moment your crust is ready, and the frozen filling can be placed right into the crust.
Using frozen filling usually means that your pie needs an extra 5-10 minutes to bake completely, and a dark pie pan will help keep the bottom crust from getting soggy, or blind bake the bottom crust first.
How do you store apples for the winter?
You can follow the steps above to freeze apples and store them for up to a year.
If you have a cool basement or cellar, you can also wrap whole apples (make sure they are clean and free of bruises, damage, or soft spots) in a sheet of newspaper, and put the individually wrapped apples in a box or basket in a cool, dry room.
They will last for up to four months.
What are the best apples for freezing?
The apples that freeze the best are the apples most popular in the grocery store since they also hold up best to storage and transport.
Look for Fuji, gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Macintosh, and red or golden delicious.
How long do frozen apples last?
Frozen apples last for a year or more.