Apples are one of the most popular fruit to grow and productive trees that reward our care and attention with bountiful harvests from late summer to autumn.
You can make the most of your crop by carefully storing your apples. There are several ways to do this, depending on variety, from keeping them fresh in the fridge for a few weeks, to long-term storage in apple crates.
Early apple varieties, harvested between September and October – such as ‘Beauty of Bath’ and ‘Worcester Pearmain’ – don’t tend to keep well and are best eaten within a fortnight of harvesting. But late apple varieties, harvested in November – such as ‘Newton Wonder’, ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ and ‘Ashmead’s Kernel’ need to ripen in storage over four or five weeks and will then last throughout the winter months if they’re stored correctly.
If you need help choosing an apple variety to grow or want to know whether the apples you have will store well see our guide to the best apple varieties to grow.
Only store firm, unblemished apples, as damaged fruits are likely to go mouldy and infect the rest of your crop. Check your stored apples regularly and remove any damaged ones immediately.
How to store apples
Monty Don shows you how to store apples, explaining which fruits will store well, where to put them so they don’t deteriorate or rot, and how long they will keep. Watch this short video guide from Gardeners’ World for full details.
The following storage suggestions will help you decide which option is best for you.
To store apples over winter, wrap each one in a single sheet of newspaper and place them in single layers on a tray. For a cheap alternative to apple racks, use an old filing tray, adding more layers as you need them.
For possible storage alternatives see our best shed storage ideas and solutions.
If you have the space and a large apple tree, you may want to invest in an apple rack. Apple racks can store a large quantity of fruit, and enable air to circulate between the layers, so you don’t need to wrap each fruit individually.
Getting the biggest harvests
Meadow-style planting looks lovely growing beneath apple and other fruit trees. However, if you’re after a bumper harvest, keeping the area below your tree free of competing plants will leave more water and nutrients available for your tree. Spread a mulch of garden compost around the base of the tree each spring, ensuring the area extends at least 1m from the trunk. Try to avoid letting the compost sit directly in contact with the trunk, as this could encourage fungal diseases.