Storing away your harvest has to be one of the most satisfying elements of growing your own food. Knowing that precious bounty is safely hoarded for you to consume through the leaner months brings a simple feeling of security. So how do you guarantee that one of our most favoured crops, the apple, lasts well into the winter?
Choosing a storable variety is key. Some apples, such as ‘Discovery’ won’t keep even into September, whereas others like ‘Pixie’ will sit, perfectly formed, well into the New Year. Bruised fruits won’t store because rots set into the damaged tissue. It’s therefore best to use up any blemished fruits quickly, or to slice and dry, or puree then freeze them.
Put aside your most perfect, unmarked apples for storage. A fruit store should be cool (but frost-free), humid yet airy – a shed or garage is ideal. Don’t keep your apples next to any strong smelling items such as pesticides, fuels or wood preservatives as they can absorb the aromas. Lay each apple, untouching, onto a wooden slatted tray. This allows air to flow freely around the fruits, and lets you see and remove any rotting apples rapidly. Consider rodent controls if they’re appropriate, and feel free to nestle each fruit in loosely packed straw or paper as this helps to absorb excess moisture.