How to Freeze Apples

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Freezing apples is a great solution when we end up with more apples than we can eat before they start to get soft and soggy.  No one likes soft soggy apples! You can freeze them whole, sliced, sweetened, plain or ready for pie! 

We will explore how to freeze apples and share tips and tricks to keep your apples from turning brown and keep them bright and fresh.  I’ll share what I personally think is the best way to freeze apples, and other options that will work for you.  

Included on this page.

What is the best way to freeze fresh apples?

Slices in my opinion.

This section is all about MY opinion on the best way. But… there are lots of alternatives. After you see how I do it, take a look at the other options below. There may be a reason you want to do it different.

  • Wash Peel core and slice apples.  You can slice them as thick or thin as you like.  If you use a gadget like an apple peeler corer slicer it makes this step very fast!  When I’m freezing apples I tend to like a thicker chunk so I just use a paring knife and peel and slice manually.
  • Treat to prevent browning. I recently learned to use salt water!  Traditionally I’ve used lemon juice in water but recently I tried a salt water soak.  It works so well that is the method I prefer and recommend.  You do have other options though.  (See below for details on all options) 
  • Lay the slices out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking sheet.  You don’t want to pile them up as they will then freeze together.  If they are slightly touching it is probably fine, they will break apart but a lot of overlapping will cause your apples to clump together.  
  • Place the pan in the freezer.  Put the pan in the freezer for a couple hours to freeze the apples.
  • Once frozen, package for the freezer. My preference is freezer bags. But I do also use freezer containers on occasion too. (read below for more options.)

You could also just package them in in recipe sized quantities if you know it won’t be a problem having them all in a clump.  This would save you a step.  I like the pan method so I can take my apples out as I need them.

Optionally use a sheet of parchment paper to keep apples from sticking to your cookie sheet.  Or use a metal spatula to gently break frozen apples free.  I don’t usually use parchment but many people like it.

Apple slices laid out in a single layer on a small cookie sheet.

So all the above is MY preferred way to freeze apples.

Now for all the many options that you have.

Can apples be frozen whole? 

Yes, apples can be frozen just as they are.  Whole, with the peels and everything.  

Personally I can’t think of why you’d want whole frozen apples.  Anything you make with the apple will usually be sliced in some way so it doesn’t make sense to freeze them whole. When you thaw the apple, the texture won’t be like a whole fresh apple. BUT, if you do have a reason to freeze whole apples.  It’s perfectly ok to do so.  

Just wash your apples, place on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  When they are frozen, package them in freezer bags. 

Freezing Applesauce or Apple Butter

Freezing applesauce is a great way to preserve apples if you don’t want to can it.  Canning Applesauce would be my preference but freezing is fine too.  Just make your applesauce as usual, and then package for the freezer.  This works for apple butter too!   It works well to freeze these in freezer containers or bags. 

Freeze fresh apples for apple pie.  

I love this method.  Freeze the apples right in a pie plate.  When they are frozen you can remove it from the pie plate.  The apples will keep that shape. Wrap in freezer bags and put in your freezer.  When you want to make a pie, remove the pie shaped bunch of apples, and place it in your pie crust.  You won’t have to make your apple pie filling it will be ready to go in the pie.

A pie plate filled with peeled and sliced apples.
This pie was frozen without the cinnamon sugar. You can add it to your apples now or later when you bake the pie.

Optionally you can just make the pie and freeze it crust and all.  I’ve got more instruction here on freezing apples for pie and how to bake it without ending up with a soggy crust from the frozen apples. 





How Do You Freeze Apples Without Them Turning Brown?  

When you slice the apples and expose the flesh of the apple to the air, it starts an enzymatic process.  Oxygen and enzymes cause the browning of the apple.   The skin of the apple protects it but when we either cut or bite an apple… it gets brown.  

Protecting the apple that you’ve just sliced slows down that process.  You’ve got a few choices on how to do this.  Some work better than others. Even simply slicing them into water will help, although it doesn’t work as well as having some sort of treatment.

 No need to do anything with whole apples since they are not peeled or slice.

Treatments to keep apples from turning brown.

Create one of the following solutions in a bowl and add apples as you slice them.  When all your apples are sliced allow them to soak 5 minutes or so.  Drain and freeze as you desire.  Some of these work better than others.  My top choice is salt water.  

  • Sugar water – 3-4 Tablespoons sugar dissolved in 1 quart water. 
  • Lemon water-  2 Tbsp. lemon juice dissolved in 1 quart of water.
  • Ascorbic Acid (aka Fruit Fresh) comes as a white powder. Follow the directions on the package.  
  • Salt water – 2 teaspoons salt dissolved in one quart water.  (My new favorite)
  • Blanching- Did you know you can blanch your apples just like tomatoes?  I didn’t but according to the NCFHFP this will keep apples from turning brown.  Blanch 1 minute. (I have not tried this one!)
Whole apple, clear mixing bowl with sliced apples, apple peels and a half sliced apple all sitting on a white cutting board.

Salt water is in my opinion the most effective at keeping apples a nice white color.  Any of the above will help, however salt seems to work best.  If you are concerned about a salty taste simply rinse the salt water off before freezing your apples.  

NOTE –  I’ve seen people recommend just spraying lemon juice or lemon water over your apples using a spray bottle.  I tried that a few years ago when I was dehydrating apples.  It didn’t work very well at all.  My apples were certainly edible, but the browning was very noticeable.  

Freezer Packaging Options  

Freezer Bags.  

This is my preference.  Freezer bags are convenient and take up less space in the freezer.  Be sure you use the bags labeled for the freezer not just storage.  The plastic will be thicker and will protect the contents better for a longer freezer life.  

Sliced apples in a freezer bag.

Freezer Containers

Plastic containers with lids work well.  You can purchase freezer specific containers.  I like these square containers for easy stacking.

I recently picked up a few of the Ball brand freezer containers. They call them ‘jars’ for some reason. They are not jars. They are plastic. I really like them for quality and sturdiness and use them often both in the freezer and just as storage for leftovers or whatever.

Apple slices being packed in syrup in a square freezer container with a green lid.

Both styles are equally good, in different ways. Square ones are not as sturdy but stack nicer. The Ball brand is a much better quality.

You can also repurpose plastic cottage cheese or yogurt containers if you know your food won’t be in the freezer for a long time. They are sufficient for short term… like a couple weeks.

Containers specifically made for the freezer will give a longer freezer life.  But if you know your apples won’t be in the freezer long, any plastic container will do. 

Glass Canning Jars

I know people who freeze items in glass jars.  I actually don’t suggest it.  They are fragile, they don’t stack well in the freezer and take up a lot of space.  If you do decide to use glass jars, use mason jars with the straight sides.  Jars with a shoulder are even more likely to break.  And leave a good couple inches of headspace.  

Individually Wrapped  

Whole apples can be simply wrapped individually if you choose.  Wrap in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags for extra freezer protection.

Packaging Options

Plain

You can just freeze your apples plain with no extra sweetener.  This is how I usually freeze my apples.  It gives a more versatile product for recipes later. Do treat to prevent browning, again a salt water soak is my preference.

Pack in Syrup

This will completely cover your fruit with syrup and protects it well.  It is good for apples to be used uncooked after thawing.  Using freezer containers works great for this but freezer bags can work also.  

Sliced apples in a Ball freezer container packed in syrup.

To make the syrup dissolve 1/2 to 4 cups sugar in 4 cups warm water.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  

1/2 cup sugar would be considered a very light syrup.  4 cups sugar would be very heavy!  That is 1/2 sugar 1/2 water…. That’s if you like super sweet!  

You can substitute corn syrup or honey.  Keep in mind the flavor difference that honey will give.  Not a bad difference, but it might depend on how you want to use your apples.   

You could also use apple juice or other juices to freeze.  

Pack apples into your chosen freezer container filling as much as you can without bruising the fruit. Leave some generous (2 inches) headspace for expansion.  Add cooled syrup until just covered.  Seal the container, mark the contents and freeze. 

Sprinkled with Sugar

This works best with freezer bags because you want to remove as much air as possible.   This is as simple as just sprinkling on some sugar before packaging.  1/2 cup sugar for about a quart of fruit is recommended but I’d say this could be to taste.  The full amount of sugar will protect the apples more.

The easiest way would be to place apple slices in a bowl, sprinkle on some sugar and toss to coat all the pieces.   Package, label and seal.  Squeeze out as much air as possible.  Or lay out on cookie sheet to freeze individually and then package label and seal.   

Seasoned for pie or other deserts.  

Add sugar and a bit of cinnamon if that is the way you use your apples later.  Follow the same method as the sugar pack… just add a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever seasonings you like.  This works great for those apples you choose to freeze in a pie plate.  

Peeled sliced apples in a clear mixing bowl being mixed with cinnamon sugar.

FAQ 

What are the best type of apples to freeze?

Any apple can be frozen.   Tart, firm apples will hold up better and have a nice apple after thawing.

Do you have to peel your apples?

You don’t have to peel your apples to freeze them, however I find it more versatile to peel them.  

Think about how you’ll use the apples later.  Most things I make with apples, I’ll remove the skins.  There may be some things that I’d leave the peel on but not having the peel won’t hurt anything.  So it just makes sense to peel them.  

So my recommendation is;  Peel them now rather than try to do it later.  

How long will apples last in the freezer 

8-12 months approximately. Freezer life will be dependent on packaging and how the apples were prepared.  It can also depend on freezer temperatures.  Freeze at 0 degrees or lower for best quality.

Tip – If you are adding a lot of packages to your freezer at the same time, be aware that it will take longer to freeze each package.  Don’t stack more than 2 or 3 unfrozen freezer bags together. 

You don’t want the center of the stack to remain un-frozen for too long.  It is better to scatter them around.  After everything is frozen you can neatly stack it all in one pile to keep your freezer storage neat.

How to use frozen apples.  

Freezing your apples breaks down the cell walls and causes the apple to soften. You can just thaw them out and eat them as is but they won’t be crispy like eating fresh.
-You can use them in pies, or desserts.  
-Add them to oatmeal or other hot cereal. 
-You can cook them down to make applesauce or apple butter.  
-You can add them to a crockpot when you are making a roast to add some moisture.  
-I stuff apples in my turkey at thanksgiving I suppose a frozen whole apple would work for this too.  
-Baked dishes, apple cake. 
-Smoothies. 
-Simply heat it up and sever over ice cream! (Quite possibly my favorite right here) 

Freezing Apples

How to Freeze Apples

Learn how to freeze apples. Freezing is a great option for an overabundance, or just when we want to prepare ahead for all the apple desserts you love.
Print Recipe
Whole apples sitting on a white cutting board, one of the apples is peeled with the paring knife.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Apples
  • Salt
  • Water

Instructions

  • Wash, peel, core, and slice apples.
  • Treat to prevent browning. I use a salt water soak. Simply slice your apples right into salt water. About 2 T salt dissolved in 1 quart water.
  • When all apples are sliced, allow to soak 5 minutes and drain.
  • You can rinse with clean water to remove any salt residue if desired.
  • Lay the slices out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in any flat pan.
  • Place in the freezer.
  • When frozen remove the apples from the pan and package in freezer containers. Usually a couple hours is sufficient.

Notes

Optionally you can use a sheet of parchment paper to keep apples from sticking to your cookie sheet. Or use a metal spatula to gently break frozen apples free.

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