When apples are in season, they are one of the best fruits on offer. Crisp, sweet, and full of flavor, it's hard to resist buying up in bulk. If you've got more apples than you know what to do with then don't let them go to waste. Instead, freeze the fruit for times when apple supplies aren't so good.
We’re about to show you the best ways to freeze apples so that they retain their quality and are easy to use in that apple pie recipe when the time comes. Before getting started, you’ll need a baking sheet, freezer bags, and a pen for labeling. If you aren't going to freeze the apples whole then you'll also need a chopping board, peeler, and a sharp knife.
How to freeze apples - 4 options
This guide will show you how to freeze apples sliced, whole, as apple pie filling, or in a sugar syrup. Before you start, think about the likely use for the fruit and choose the most appropriate option. Freezing slices with no added sweeteners will provide the most flexibility when it comes to using them. But if you enjoy apple pies, then pre-making the filling with a sugar and spice mixture makes sense.
1. Apple slices
Prepping the apples before you freeze them is a good option because they are a lot easier to use when the time comes to add them to your next recipe. The problem is that apple turns an unpleasant brown color once the skin has been removed. To avoid this, your first step is to fill a large bowl or the sink with eight cups of water. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of salt and stir until dissolved. Once each apple is peeled, cored, and sliced, the pieces should be soaked in the brine bath to ensure the apple retains its lovely color. You can also use any other ascorbic acid solution or lemon juice to keep the fruit looking its best.
After 2-3 minutes of soaking, place the apple pieces in a strainer, allowing the water to drip out. Lay the apple slices on a lined cookie sheet in a single layer and transfer to the freezer. Keeping them separate on a tray will mean you can easily separate the pieces when needed. Adding them straight into a freezer bag will result in one solid clump of fruit!
After four hours the apples will be frozen on the tray, making them suitable for placing in freezer bags. Pack portion-control quantities that match the recipes you’ll use the fruit in. For example, if you normally use four apples in an apple cobbler then add roughly this amount to the bag.
Remember to label each bag with the fruit’s name and date. It seems unnecessary, but it is easy to confuse everyday ingredients once they're covered in a layer of ice. You should also write down the intended use for the apples whenever possible.
2. Whole Apples
It isn't so common to freeze whole apples because once they are thawed the texture becomes mushy and dicing them can be a challenge. Of course, this won't be a problem when used for juicing, smoothies, or apple sauce.
To freeze whole apples, give the fruit a thorough wash in cool water before drying with a clean towel. Place the fruit on a baking sheet and freeze overnight before transferring to freezer bags. Once again, placing the fruit straight into a freezer bag will cause them to stick together and they'll be hard to pull apart without defrosting. Finally, label each bag with the name of contents and date before returning to the freezer.
3. Apple Pie Filling
Freezing apple pie filling is excellent for time management. You can make a large batch and freeze in appropriate portion-sized bags. To begin, peel the apples and remove the cores, then slice the apples on a chopping board. Cut them up to whatever size suit you need then add to a large bowl and mix in the sugar and spices, ensuring the fruit is nicely coated.
Take a pie dish lined with aluminum foil and scoop in enough fruit for one apple pie. Freeze for four hours then remove the fruit from the foil and place in a freezer bag before returning to the freezer. Next time you're in a hurry to make dessert it will be easy to pop one of these into a pie crust and bake. Always cook the pie with the fruit still frozen; the apple juice will turn the pastry soggy if it has been allowed to thaw.
Related reading: What are the best pastry boards currently on offer.
How to make apple pie filling for the freezer
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes. Makes: Filling for 4 pies.
- 7 pounds apples, peeled, cored, sliced
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 cups water
- Place the apples into a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over the fruit. Toss to ensure that all the apple slices are evenly coated. Set aside.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Steering constantly, allow the mixture to boil vigorously for two minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and then mix in the apple wedges.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the fruit softens. Don't let the fruit get too mushy, it needs to retain a firm texture. Leaving the lid on, remove from the heat, and allow to cool for one hour.
- Using a large spoon or ladle, transfer 4 equal-sized portions of apple into four separate freezer bags that are a suitable size. You can also use the method we mentioned above for freezing apple pie filling in aluminum lined pie dishes.
- Allow the fruit to cool completely before transferring to the freezer.
Did you know? Apple stored in an airtight bag should last for up to one year frozen.
4. Packing in Syrup
If you like your apple sweet but don't want the added spices that come with making apple pie filling, then freezing your fruit in a sugar syrup (simple syrup) is a good option. To make it, combine equal parts water and sugar and heat in a saucepan on the stovetop until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the solution to cool completely before adding to the bags of peeled and sliced apples.
Don't want to add lots of refined sugar to your fruit? Another option is to use honey. With this sweetener, boil 2 cups of water and pour it into a bowl along with one cup of honey. Next, pour the mixture into the apples to ensure they are nicely coated.
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How to use frozen apples
When using the apple for pies, baked goods, or anything that has a dry element, don't thaw the apple first. Instead, cook the fruit from frozen as this will allow most of the liquid to get cooked out rather than leaking into the other ingredients and making them soggy.
- heat gently in a small saucepan to make an apple compote for topping on ice cream, waffles, and pancakes.
- add to baked goods like muffins, cakes, or a delicious apple pie.
- blend into a smoothie for added nutrition and flavor.
- use for applesauce, jelly, jam, apple butter, or any dessert that benefits from apple.
If you decide to make applesauce or apple butter with your frozen fruit and you've made too much, then you can freeze it for later use. Allow it to cool and store in airtight freezer-safe containers.
Frequently asked questions
How long can apples be frozen for?
Apples can be stored in the freezer for up to one year before they start to lose the quality of their flavor and texture. To help the fruit stay fresh ensure the freezer bags are completely sealed and that all air has been removed from the bag.
Can I freeze apples with the skin on?
If you intend using the apples in recipes with the skin still on then it is perfectly fine to freeze the apples unpeeled. Peeling the apples after the fruit has thawed will be difficult, so it is much easier to remove the skins before freezing.
Do frozen apples turn brown?
Once frozen, apples will not turn brown if they have been immersed in a bath of salted water. Use 8 cups of water combined with two tablespoons of salt to bath the fruit in. Another option is to peel the fruits and then blanch them for two minutes to stop the browning action.
Should apples be raw or cooked before freezing?
Apples can be frozen raw in slices, as a whole apple, or they can be pre-cooked before bagging and freezing. Apple that has been frozen raw will provide more options for using the fruit in recipes that call for uncooked fruit such as smoothies.
If you're trying to reduce the family's food budget or you simply love an efficient kitchen then freezing food is a fantastic time-saver. Not only do apples taste delicious when they are in season, but they are also a bargain for a short time each year. This is your perfect opportunity to buy in bulk and spend a morning peeling, coring, and slicing fruit before freezing it. If you don't have a large freezer then try to make plenty of space in advance so that there's room for the apples.
Once the job is done, any time you need to make a pie in a hurry, or you're longing quality fruit in the depths of winter, you'll have fruit at your service. But keep in mind that not all apples are equal when it comes to "freezability". Check out our guide to the sweetest apples which shows the best uses for some of the most common fruit varieties. We recommend the Granny Smith as a great all-rounder for cooking and they freeze well.
Do you have a special technique for freezing apples that helps them retain their taste, color and texture? Please let us know in the comments below.