Apples store quite well* in my root cellar although in the 4 winters I've been here, I haven't had many to store. On my recent trip to Charlottesville, I stopped at Drumheller's Orchard in the Blue Ridge foothills near Lovingston, VA. I have bought peaches there several times but this is the first year I have been up there during apple season. The folks there are super friendly and helpful; their peaches have always been outstanding so I assumed their apples would be also.
On my way up, I stopped for apple samples that fit my criteria: tart taste, and long storage time. I sampled the selections during my stay in Charlottesville, and stopped back at the orchard on my way home to buy 2 of the 3 varieties I sampled.
I bought a half bushel of Albemarle Pippins, my favorite of the bunch. I would have bought a whole bushel of those, except the few remaining in the big wooden bins had been pretty well picked over. The other variety I bought was a half-bushel of Pink Lady apples. The taste was good but not quite as spectacular as the Pippin, although it keeps longer.
Since I often go for a week or two without opening the root cellar, sometimes food has spoiled from an overlooked bad spot. I didn't want that to happen with these apples, and the way to prevent spoilage is two-fold. The most important is to buy fruit that is unblemished and unbruised. The second thing is to wrap them individually so if one spoils, it doesn't affect all the others.
|Pink Lady apple, ready to wrap|
You can wrap the apples in newspaper, but if you do, be sure to avoid any with colored inks. (The colored inks contain heavy metals.) Our local paper has color on every page, even the classified, so I ended up buying tissue paper. The Dollar Store had packs of 40 sheets (20" x 20") for $1, and I cut them down to about 14" x 14" for ease in handling.
Most of my apples still had the stems so I had to place the apples on the tissue paper stem-up so the stem didn't poke a hole in the paper. (The objective of wrapping is to keep the apples from touching each other, so tears are a no-no.) Gently twist the paper corners around the apple, doesn't have to be tight, just enough to keep the apple inside the paper.
Stack them in a container to keep them off the floor. A cardboard box would work just fine.
|Pink Lady Apples|
Since I have 2 varieties of apples, I left a single apple on the top to identify the contents.
|Albemarle Pippin Apples|
I'm really glad I decided to wrap my apples. Close inspection revealed about a dozen Pippins that have tiny bits of damage, mostly some small nicks, but enough that I suspect they would not keep well. I cannot blame anyone since I picked them out myself. To be honest, it was a little dark in the apple house, and that bin was empty almost down to the bottom. I left the slightly damaged apples on top of the basket so I'd know which ones I need to use first.
Apples are now in the cool, dark root cellar, safe winter storage for several months!
*Note: Apples should not be stored with potatoes in the same room. As they age, potatoes release an otherwise harmless gas that makes apples spoil faster.