They don't call it a crisper for nothing.

By Betty Gold
Updated October 07, 2020
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Did you know that over 750 varieties of apples exist in the world, and that there are more than 100 types of apples in the United States alone? While we can't properly preserve all of them—much as we'd like to try—we've got to start somewhere.

Indeed, fall is fleeting enough as it is, and we'd rather not waste a single piece of that precious fruit that you just hauled back from your apple picking adventure. You have far too many apple pies, crumbles, cider cocktails, and other apple recipes to tackle.

The secret? Your refrigerator's crisper drawer.

Remember that step one in wasting less fruit is avoiding storing certain types of produce too closely together. This is a very common mistake that can lead to food going bad prematurely, especially apples. Buildup of the chemical compound ethylene gas can cause them to ripen faster, so storing your apples separate from bananas, melons, apricots, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, and figs will help prevent them from sharing ethylene gas and therefore ripening one another. The cool temperature of the fridge will also help slow the emission of ethylene.

Bottom line? There's nothing worse than a rotten apple. The good news is that when stored properly, you shouldn't ever have to toss—or worse, bite into—a mushy apple ever again. Follow these simple tips about selecting and storing the fruit, and your apples will always be as delicious as they are good for you.

The Best Way to Pick and Store Apples For Long-Lasting Freshness

Believe it or not, color is not the best indicator of quality when it comes to this fruit. When shopping, the first priority is to make sure your apples aren’t bruised—this usually means mealy, flavorless flesh underneath. They should be firm to the touch, crisp, and free of nicks and bumps. Also, a fresh, good-quality apple should have a pleasant, not-too-powerful aroma. 

Flick an apple near its stem: if the sound is hollow, the apple is a bit too ripe. Listen for a dull thud, which means you’ve found perfectly ripe fruit. Avoid apples that are noticeably soft, mushy, or indent easily after you press the skin. And remember, when you're carrying your apples home from the grocery store or orchard, be gentle! Avoid dropping apples into your shopping card or bag—pretend you're handling eggs. Set them down carefully to avoid bruising them.

Unless you plan to eat your apples within a few days, don't keep them on the kitchen counter. For longevity, cooler temperatures plus darkness and humidity is key. Your fridge's crisper drawer is ideal—they’ll last about two to three weeks. Be sure to avoid keeping near other fruits that release ethylene gas. In a pinch, or if you don't have space in the crisper drawers, you can loosely wrap apples and keep them in your basement (or garage, if you live in a cold climate).