So, I took a look at my apple store over this weekend. It being February, the apples have been in there a number of months.

In previous years I haven't had a massive amount of success storing apples but I've learnt some lessons (secure the store against rodents, don't store windfalls) and I'm getting better results.

This autumn, for the first time, I decided to store apples from different trees in separate trays, instead of mixing them up.

Huge difference in success rates! We have four trees. The trays from three of them (two eaters and a cooker) are pretty clean and the apples have lasted well. The trays from the fourth tree (a cooker) are 100% brown and unusable.

Maybe this was my problem all along in previous years! Mixing them up, I just didn't realise that one variety was rotting out the whole store.

Is it normal for one variety to completely fail to store? Is store-ability widely variable depending on variety?

  • There are even some varieties marketed as 'storage apples'. All varieties store somewhat differently.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 20:26

3 Answers 3


Quite normal. Some varieties store well, some don't. As a rule, the better storing apples are harder than the not so good for storing apples as they come off the tree. If you know the variety (beyond it being a cooker) you might even find that noted as part of its description - in any case, you now know it for yourself.

An alternate storage method might suit the one that does not store as well (I made gallons of dried apples last fall, as well as apple sauce and apple butter.) You can also make sure that any stored whole apples from that tree are the first ones to be used, and to be sure to use them up before February (depending when the last time you checked the store was, you might have some idea how long they did last.)

Edit, Add: If you are not already doing so, you may also benefit from scalding your trays, to greatly reduce mold populations and perhaps also carryover of codling moths.

  • 1
    Entirely experiential, and I gave you +1 for mentioning the usual timing. One of my trees is a "Yellow transparent" (some places, same variety is called white transparent) - a Russian-bred summer apple. It goes from under-ripe to over-ripe in about 3 July/August days on the tree, and might store for a week or so if picked a little under-ripe. As soft as they are it's a bit tricky to get them sliced up to dry, but once dried, (or sauced) they keep quite well. They also happen to be great right off the tree.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 15:26
  • If you have enough is there a way you can make apple juice? If it's pasteurised it will keep and not go brown either.
    – user13638
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 19:09
  • Generally if I make cider I either drink it and brown tastes just fine, or I ferment it (which happens to be another way to get it clear and self-preserving if you take it to a finished state, rather than just fizzy and brown.) There are other ways to make juice, I just don't happen to use them; they seem rather fussy from what i read about them.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 19:29

Yes, how well an apple stores is definitely dependent on the variety. Many nurseries even market some of their trees as "good keepers". And some apples, like Spitzenburg, improve in flavor after they are stored for a few weeks. Others, like Empire, have the best flavor when you eat them straight from the tree.

As a general rule, most apples that ripen early in summer tend not to store well, often lasting just a couple weeks. Apples that ripen late in the fall tend to keep best, and are often fine 3-5 months after picking if stored properly.

  • I'll go with that. Yellow June is the earliest ripening Apple that I personally have experience with. The apples are only good for sauce from freshly picked apples. They don't store longer than a few weeks at best before they aren't even good enough for apple sauce.
    – Escoce
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 15:22

Ripening fruits produce ethylene, which in turn triggers ripening in not-already-ripening fruits - a feedback mechanism. So it may also be that by separating the fruits into different trays, you are localising this effect, so that the one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole damn bunch, or rather, the one ripening tray doesn't influence the other tray as much.

  • 1
    Unless you get into building your own CA storage which will actively filter it out, ethylene, being a gas, is everywhere.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 13:38
  • 2
    Yes, but high local concentrations do promote excessive ripening, and absent air movement, the concentration adjacent to a ripening apple will be significantly higher than the ambient level. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:50
  • 1
    Ethylene is lighter then air so rises, and is not everywhere. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 0:58
  • By that logic the earth's atmosphere would separate out into distinct layers of oxygen and nitrogen. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 6:21
  • 1
    I think it's also relevant that the ethylene is being constantly produced during ripening, as opposed to a one-time total release, hence the gradient. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 6:57

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