If you’ve ever bought or grown a good crop of apples, you know how difficult it can be to use them all up before they turn brown, bruise, or otherwise become inedible. Luckily, apples are one of those fruits that takes well to freezing, extending their applicability for months and greatly minimizing food waste!
Learning how to freeze apples properly and efficiently will help ensure you never waste another bushel of harvested or store-bought apples. Read on to learn the most simple and effective methods of how to freeze apples.
What Tools Do I Need to Freeze Apples?
One of the biggest questions you may have about how to freeze apples is, “What tools do I need to freeze these apples properly?”
The good news is, most methods for how to freeze apples are fairly straightforward and can be done with minimal fuss! No bulky machines or fancy equipment is really required. The best-recommended tools to freeze apples simply are:
- Plastic wrap or sealable or silicone bags
- A plate or baking tray lined with parchment paper (if slicing apples before freezing)
- An apple peeler
- A knife (if slicing apples before freezing)
If you are interested in learning how to freeze apples that have been processed and packed, either in a dry or liquid pack, it is also recommended that you prepare with these additional tools:
- A cooking pot (if liquid packing)
- Glass jars or hard plastic containers (if liquid packing)
- A ruler to measure the space between your solution and the rim of the jar (if liquid packing).
- Jar lids you can label (such as chalkboard jar lids)
Preparing Your Apples For Freezing
When planning how to freeze apples, you’ll want to consider whether you prefer to freeze them whole or sliced. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, so it’s important to choose which preparatory method best suits your needs!
Preparing Apples: Freezing Whole
The whole method for how to freeze apples is certainly the least labor-intensive! With very little effort at all, you can pop your apples in the freezer and be done; simply wash the apple, wrap it in plastic wrap or place in a sealable or silicone bag, and place it into the freezer. Just like that, you’re done!
The downside to freezing apples this way is that they can be inconvenient to navigate once it comes time to use them, and they may brown up and bruise more easily once defrosted; so you’re really trading the up front labor for more work to make the apples useable once you defrost them. For this reason, it’s often recommended to process the apples a bit before storing them in the freezer.
To reduce the risk of browning when storing your apples whole, you can peel them and dip them fully intact into a solution of water and lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 gallon of water) before bagging and freezing them.
Preparing Apples: Processing Before Freezing
When it comes to choosing how to freeze apples, don’t be discouraged by the work that comes with processing them ahead of time. This can be a really great way to ensure you maximize the longevity and use of your frozen apples in the long run!
To process them, simply peel, core, and slice your apples ahead of time; then take your apple slices and dip them into a solution of water and lemon juice (you’ll generally want a ratio of about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to every 1 gallon of water)—this will help prevent them from browning as they freeze.
To keep your apple slices from sticking together while they freeze and forming a hard-to-manage clump, lay the apple slices out on a plate or baking tray that’s been lined with parchment paper and pop the plate or tray into the freezer for a few hours. After they’ve hardened just a bit, you can place the apple slices into sealable bags or silicone bags without any concern of them clumping together while they finish freezing!
Processing and Packing Your Apples
When deciding how to freeze your apples, you may want to consider processing and packing them before freezing. This is a method similar to canning the apples and will make them an even better element in pies or sauces once you’re ready to use them.
Packing Apples: In Syrup
If using a packing liquid is your preferred method of how to freeze apples, you will simply need to make a syrup, which involves a ratio of either 2 cups of sugar to 1 quart of water (for a light syrup) or 3 cups of sugar to 1 quart of water (for a medium syrup).
Once the sugar has dissolved completely into the lukewarm water, allow the solution to cool, then it’s time to pack your apples into your glass jars or hard plastic containers.
If you are using a pint-sized container, you will want to pack the apples down and fill the rest of the way with syrup to within ½ inch of a wide rim or ¾ inch of a narrow rim. If you are using a quart-sized container, you will want the syrup within 1 inch for a wide brim or 1 ½ inch for a narrow rim.
You can also make use of a syrup pack in a large sealable bag. Once the syrup is completely cooled, simply add it with the apples in the bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing it and storing it in the freezer/
Packing Apples: Dry Packing
Dry packing apples before freezing is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to freeze apples with a dry pack:
Once you have peeled, cored, sliced, and dipped your apples in a lemon-and-water solution, you will need to drain them well, removing as much excess moisture as possible, and then sprinkle them with sugar (roughly ¼ to ½ cup of sugar to every quart of apples; you can adjust this based on your sugar preference, using less if you prefer more natural apple tartness and more if you prefer a sweeter taste) and toss to coat. Then place the apples into your sealable freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before storing them in the freezer.
What Are the Best Types of Apples to Freeze?
Typically, when planning how to freeze apples, if you have the option ahead of time you will want to choose apple varieties that have a firmer, crisper texture naturally, as these will hold up the absolute best under freezing conditions.
Some of the best varieties of apples to freeze are Cortland, Jonagold, Empire, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith apples, due to their firm flesh and snappy texture.
How Long Do Frozen Apples Last?
One of the reasons so many people are eager to learn how to freeze apples is because these delicious fruits just don’t have a very long shelf life overall! They can range anywhere from a few days on the counter to up to a few weeks in the fridge, but that’s often nowhere near enough to make use of a large batch before they go bad.
Particularly if you grow your own apples or go apple picking on a regular basis, you’re likely to end up with more apples than you know what to do with. However, frozen apples can last as long as 8 months!
Will Freezing Apples Ruin Their Texture and Nutrients?
Thankfully, apples take quite well to freezing and will have very little breakdown if you do your research on how to freeze apples properly and take the preparatory steps to process them!
It is true that the texture of an apple will change somewhat with freezing. They won’t have quite the same firm integrity as a fresh apple, which makes them no longer ideal for raw snacking. However, this does not make them useless! They’re still great for baking and cooking and will make a fantastic addition to countless dishes, especially if you use a lemon-and-water solution and store them in an airtight container.
Though there may be a bit of breakdown in some of the nutrients in the apples if you store them for longer than a year, typically apples will keep their baseline nutritional value extremely well in the freezer
Should I Really Peel Apples Before I Freeze Them?
Though it may seem counterintuitive when considering how to freeze apples, it’s actually very useful to peel these fruits before freezing them! The apple’s skin will not protect it from freezer burn or any other elements while freezing. In fact, removing the skin will actually reduce the risk of browning if the apples are also processed properly in a solution before being stored in the freezer. Because whole apples do not typically receive this same processing before freezing, they’re exponentially more likely to brown and bruise swiftly once you defrost them.
For these reasons, whether storing whole apples or sliced ones, it’s recommended to peel them before you process them, and to process them before freezing them.
How to Use Frozen Apples
Equally as important as how to freeze apples is the question of how to use them once they’re thawed! Because freezing apples does change their texture slightly, it’s recommended that they be cooked rather than eaten raw once defrosted.
Some of the best ways to use frozen apples are:
- In baked dishes such as pies, tarts, muffins, and breads
- In an apple crisp
- For concocting a crockpot batch of homemade apple sauce or apple butter
- In smoothies
Wrapping Up How to Freeze Apples
Feeling confident now in how to freeze apples when you’ve got a hefty crop to go through? Don’t stop learning there! There’s lots to know about apples, from how to grow them to how to prepare them for cooking, how to tend to apple trees, and so much more.
Excited for more apple content? Visit our apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!