Fall weather brings the best fresh apples in bushels. While we are in a season of peak apple production in many states, you might consider preserving some specialties that will add variety to menus throughout the year. Apples can be dried, made into applesauce or apple butter, or even made into a delicious apple pear jam. Those who treasure the crispness of fresh apples will not be impressed by soft canned or frozen apple slices, but they can be preserved by those methods, also.
Whether you are buying apples by visiting the nearby orchard, the grocery store or market, or even picking apples from your own backyard, choose the preservation method that is best for your apple variety. Varieties that are good for freezing include: Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Stayman, Jonathan and Granny Smith. Varieties that are good for making applesauce and apple butter include: Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Stayman, Jonathan, Gravenstein and McIntosh. Red Delicious apples are best eaten fresh. They do not freeze or cook well in most opinions. There are so many newer varieties in the last few years, it will take some time to get this list updated, but it is a starting place for your choices.
When selecting your apples for preserving, choose apples that are free of defects, such as bruises, skin breaks and decayed spots. Little brown spots appearing solely on the skin of the apple, called “russeting,” does not affect quality of the tissue underneath. Beware and on the lookout for browning or broken skins that are evidence of actual spoilage such as rotting or mold.
If making applesauce, apple butter or dried slices with your apples, use them as soon as possible after harvest. If any apples must be stored, keep them in a cool, dark place. They should not be tightly covered or wrapped up; a perforated plastic or open paper bag, basket or wooden crate are good choices. If kept in the refrigerator, apples should be placed in the humidifier compartment or in a plastic bag with several holes punched in it (or in a zipper-type vegetable bag). This prevents loss of moisture and crispness. Apples should not be placed close to foods with strong odors since the odor may be picked up by the apples.
Here are some options to prepare for and choose from in preserving your apples:
Making and canning a flavorful applesauce:
Making and canning a tasty, robust apple butter:
For those who want a no-sugar added apple butter:
(ours was developed for sucralose as a sweetener but no sweetener is necessary)
Drying apple slices or rings:
Combining the best of fall fruits in tasty pear-apple jam:
Making old-fashioned, pretty crabapple jelly:
Canning a special, spicy gift-quality apple chutney:
And if you like the option of a spicy pickled profile, also check out this apple relish:
And, for all those extra apple slices to save for pies and desserts later in the year, freezing:
For more information on canning and freezing methods, including packaging choices and headspace for freezer containers, see general sections on these topics available from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia, https://nchfp.uga.edu.