If you’re wondering what to do with a bumper haul of apples, never fear, there are plenty of ways to preserve your crop. We turned to some of our favourite bloggers for advice, asking them how they deal with an apple glut.
Here are some of the best ways to store and preserve this most traditional of British fruits, along with top tips from those who’ve been there, done that and have the chutney to show for it! Inspired to grow a few more varieties? Take a look at our excellent selection of apple trees here.
- How to store whole apples
- How to dry and dehydrate apples
- How to freeze apples
- How to make apple chutney
- How to make apple jams and jellies
- How to make apple leather
- How to make apple cider
The first technique for preserving apples requires almost no effort at all. In fact, all you need is a cool, dry shelf in the garage, attic, or utility room. As Kev at An English Homestead says:
“The easiest way to preserve the harvest is in its natural form – I’ve built lots of apple racks and if you pick the right variety then you can be eating them well into next year – I ate my last stored apple on June the 1st this year!”
Varieties like ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Gala’, ‘Fuji’, and ‘Red Delicious’ store well over the winter months, but much depends on good preparation too. As Kev says, “careful picking, storage and selection of variety is all that is needed. You need to be vigilant with checking them and remove any that go bad.”
To reduce the chances of your apples going bad, place them so they’re not touching, or do as Sam aka The Hairy Horticulturist does, and “wrap apples in paper and store somewhere cold…”
Dried apples are a delicious snack you can enjoy anytime you need a little extra fuel between meals, and they’re also a great baking ingredient, either in their dried form or rehydrated.
To dry apples, simply wash your harvest before cutting it into thin slices and drying in an oven on its lowest temperature setting, or in a dehydrator. If you’d like to prevent the fruit from oxidising – turning brown – first soak the slices in brine (2oz salt to 1 gallon of water) for a few minutes before removing with a slotted spoon and patting dry with kitchen paper.
Drying times vary according to the temperature setting of your oven, but in any case, it’s easy to tell when your apples are ready – simply pick a few slices at random and give them a squeeze. Dried apples should have a rubbery texture and will spring back into shape when squished.
Store your dried apples in cardboard boxes lined with brown paper, or in sealed, sterilised jars. Carla Whitehouse of @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57 says, “I sterilise my jars by washing them. I place the jar in the oven on 140c for 10 minutes and pour boiling water over the lids.”
One of the easiest ways to deal with surplus apples is to freeze them. Do bear in mind, however, that when you thaw the fruit, the water in the cells expands, breaking the membrane and softening the fruit. For this reason, it’s a great idea to process your apples before you put them in the freezer – it saves on space too.
Mandy of MandyCanUDigIt has a ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ tree in her garden. Planted from a pip when she was a child, it now produces a crop of apples, which although plentiful, tends to be badly affected with scab. She says, “it’s a real chore to core, peel and chop such apples and life’s too short.” Her solution? Cook the apples with lemon juice, allow them to cool, and then work the fruit through a colander to remove the skins, pips and bits of core – that’s right, you don’t need to peel and core your apples for this recipe! Mandy spoons her compote into ziplock bags before labelling and freezing. What a great idea!
Katie at The Marmalade Teapot is an apple chutney fan. She says: “My top tip is to jazz up a simple cheese toastie with a good layering of this apple chutney. Warmed through, crispy on the outside & oozing in the middle, it’s my absolute guilty pleasure.”
Chutney-making needn’t be complicated, says Choclette from Tin & Thyme – “it’s just a case of cooking everything down until the mixture is thick.” Her favourite is her spiced apple chutney. “Sometimes,” she says, “I’ll make two or even three batches as it makes splendid gifts for chutney loving friends and family.”
Richard at The Veg Grower Podcast is also a fan of apple chutney. Including sultanas, muscovado sugar, mustard seeds, ginger and cinnamon, he uses a slow cooker to make his chutney – an energy-saving method that couldn’t be easier.
Apples are also delicious when processed into a sweet or savoury jam or jelly. Michelle at Veg Plotting uses her surplus dessert apples to make a delicious sweet apple jelly. A very simple recipe, it’s so easy to make – she enjoys hers with bread and peanut butter. After decanting the jelly into warmed, sterilised jars, store in a cool, dark cupboard. The jelly is ready to eat right away, but also keeps very well.
Over at @flowers_and_veg_at_no_57, Carla has a big apple tree at home and a plum tree at work, so she combines the fruits to make a delicious jam. Carla admits that she loves to be surrounded by mason jars filled with homemade preserves: “It’s so lovely to look at them – it gives a sense of security especially in these uncertain times.” Find her recipe for plum and apple jam on her Instagram page.
Looking for a snack solution kids will love? Sarah at Craft Invaders says, “yummy, healthy, super-easy and cheap to make – fruit leather is the ultimate grab and go snack.” She also says that “making fruit leathers at home is really easy, fun to do with the kids, and you get to control exactly what goes into them!”
If making fruit leather sounds like something you’d like to try, why not have a go at Sarah’s lovely plum and apple fruit leather recipe? Containing just apples, plums and lemon juice, the full method is over at her website.
You’ve peeled, simmered, mashed, pressed, pulped, and processed but still you have left-over apples? Now’s the time to make cider. A gloriously messy process, the kids will love helping – and can join in the drinking too because, depending on your choice of apples, you don’t have to wait for your juice to turn alcoholic before drinking it.
If you’d like to have a go at making your own cider – a country tradition as old as the hills, we highly recommend taking a look at Kev at An English Homestead’s series of posts about cider making. It looks like a fun way to enjoy some fresh air and exercise before sitting down for a tipple from last year’s brew.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to preserving apples. Getting the most from your harvests is a great way to enjoy tasty snacks all year round, while cutting waste and saving you money. Visit our fruit tree hub page for more information and advice.