How long do fresh picked apples last?

Fresh picked apples can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months depending on the storage conditions. Apples continue to respire after they are picked, which means they are still alive and breathing. The key to making apples last longer is to slow down the respiration rate by storing them properly.

Quick Overview

  • Fresh picked apples last 2-3 weeks at room temperature.
  • Refrigerating apples can extend their shelf life to 2-3 months.
  • Cold storage at 30-35°F can keep apples fresh for 6 months or more.
  • Variety, harvest time, and storage conditions impact shelf life.
  • To maximize freshness, store apples in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag.

How Long Do Apples Last at Room Temperature?

At room temperature of around 68°F, the average shelf life of fresh picked apples is approximately 2-3 weeks. However, that timeframe can vary based on several factors:

  • Apple variety – Some varieties naturally last longer than others. Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith are among the longest lasting.
  • Condition at harvest – Bruising, nicks, and other damage create entry points for mold growth and moisture loss.
  • Time of harvest – Early season apples don’t last as long. Those picked later when fully ripe and mature keep best.
  • Ethylene exposure – Exposure to ethylene gas causes apples to ripen and deteriorate faster.

Keep in mind apples will continue to ripen after picking. Countertop storage accelerates the ripening process. Signs an apple is past its prime include skin wrinkling, mealy or mushy flesh, and mold growth.

How to Extend Room Temperature Storage

Proper handling and storage allows fresh picked apples to last up to 3 weeks at room temperature. Here are some tips:

  • Gently handle apples when picking and transporting to avoid bruises.
  • Sort out and use damaged or bruised apples first.
  • Keep apples away from heat sources like direct sun or appliances.
  • Store in a cool area away from ethylene gas given off by ripening fruit.
  • Place in a basket or bowl with good air circulation.

How Long Do Apples Last Refrigerated?

Refrigerating apples at 35-40°F can extend their shelf life to 2-3 months when stored properly. The cold environment slows the fruit’s respiration rate and other internal changes that lead to spoilage.

However, temperatures below 32°F damage apples. Avoid storing apples in the coldest section of the refrigerator like the back of the bottom shelf.

Tips for Refrigerator Storage

  • Store apples in the high humidity crisper drawer.
  • Place apples in a perforated plastic bag before refrigerating.
  • Sort apples periodically and use up any that are ripening faster.
  • Consume refrigerated apples within 2-3 months.

Maximizing Refrigerator Shelf Life

Follow these guidelines to get the most mileage from refrigerated fresh picked apples:

  • Pick apples later in the season – Fully mature, late harvested apples store better.
  • Select the right varieties – Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith have long fridge life.
  • Handle with care – Avoid bruising apples when transporting from orchard.
  • Discard damaged apples – Injuries invite moisture loss and rot.
  • Store in perforated bags – Maintains humidity while allowing air circulation.
  • Keep refrigerated – Cold temperature slows ripening process.

What’s the Best Way to Store Apples in the Fridge?

Here are some apple storage tips to get the most longevity in the refrigerator:

  • Place apples in perforated plastic bags before refrigerating. This helps retain moisture and prevents shriveling while still allowing air circulation.
  • Sort apples periodically and remove any that are ripening or deteriorating faster. One bad apple speeds up ripening of the rest!
  • Store apples away from ethylene producing fruits like pears, bananas, and tomatoes. The ethylene will accelerate ripening.
  • Keep refrigerated between 32°F and 40°F. Colder temperatures can damage apples.
  • Store apples in the high humidity crisper drawer. The added moisture helps slow moisture loss.

How Long Do Apples Last in Cold Storage?

Cold storage at temperatures just above freezing offers the longest shelf life for fresh picked apples. Kept between 30-35°F with high humidity, apples will remain fresh and crisp for 6-8 months.

Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage takes it a step farther. CA rooms regulate temperature, humidity, air composition, and ethylene levels. In commercial CA storage, apples last 8-12 months.

Tips for Cold Storage

  • Pick apples when fully mature but still firm.
  • CA storage is ideal, but regular cold storage also works well.
  • Store apples in perforated plastic bags to retain moisture.
  • Maintain temperatures between 30°F and 35°F.
  • Check apples periodically and remove any spoiled fruit.

Does Apple Variety Affect Shelf Life?

Yes, the variety of apple impacts how long it will stay fresh after picking. Varieties vary in their cell structure, acidity, thickness of skin, and other factors that affect shelf life.

In general, thicker skinned varieties last longer. And early season apples don’t store as long as those picked later. Here are some common varieties ranked from shortest to longest storing:

  • Ginger Gold – 2 weeks
  • Gala – 2-3 months
  • Braeburn – 3-4 months
  • Jonagold – 4-5 months
  • Fuji – 5-6 months
  • Granny Smith – 6-8 months
  • Honeycrisp – 6-8 months

Does Harvest Date Affect Storage Life?

Yes, apples harvested early in the season generally don’t last as long in storage compared to late harvested apples. Immature apples ripen faster after picking than mature fruit.

Here are some guidelines for harvest dates and storage life:

  • Early season – August-September – Store 2 weeks to 2 months
  • Mid season – October – Store 2-3 months
  • Late season – November+ – Store 5-6 months

Of course, variety also plays a role. But in general, apples picked later in the fall when perfectly ripe will remain fresh longer than early harvested fruit.

What Conditions Maximise Shelf Life?

To get the most mileage from fresh picked apples, the best storage conditions include:

  • Cool temperatures – 32°F to 40°F slows respiration rate.
  • High humidity – Prevents moisture loss and shriveling.
  • Good air flow – Allows internal gases to vent while retaining humidity.
  • No ethylene – Removes exposure to the ripening hormone.
  • Clean storage – Prevents rot from spreading between apples.
  • Intact fruit – No nicks, bruises or other damage.

How To Tell if Apples Are Still Good?

It’s easy to test apples for freshness. Look for these signs of spoilage:

  • Wrinkled skin – Indicates moisture loss
  • Brown or soft spots – Areas of rotting
  • Slimy texture – Bacteria or mold growth
  • Musty odor – Early stages of rot

Apples that are still good will be firm with smooth, bright colored skin. They will feel heavy for their size and give off a fresh, apple aroma.

Can Rotten Apples Spoil the Bunch?

Yes! Leaving spoiled, rotten apples in with fresh fruit will accelerate spoilage of the remaining apples. One bad apple really does ruin the whole bunch.

Rotten apples give off higher levels of ethylene gas which initiates the ripening process. They also contain mold and bacteria that can spread to adjacent apples.

Sort through apples periodically and remove any that are showing signs of spoilage. This helps preserve the rest.

What Accelerates Apple Spoilage?

Several factors can speed up the natural spoilage process of fresh apples after harvest:

  • Ethylene exposure – Ripens and deteriorates apples faster
  • Temperature – Heat speeds ripening and chilling damages apples
  • Bruising – Provides entry points for rot and moisture loss
  • Ripeness – Ripe apples deteriorate faster than firm, unripe fruit
  • Variety – Shorter storing varieties like Ginger Gold spoil quicker

By understanding what hastens apple spoilage, you can take steps to maximise shelf life through proper handling, storage temperatures, and variety selection.

Can You Refrigerate Ripe Apples to Prolong Freshness?

Yes, you can refrigerate ripe apples to extend their shelf life, but with limitations. Once apples are fully ripe, they will only last 1-2 weeks refrigerated. So it’s best to use ripe apples soon.

The cold temperature helps slow their respiration rate and other internal changes. But ripe fruit continues to deteriorate despite refrigeration.

For maximum freshness, refrigerate apples while they are still unripe. Storing mature, but still firm apples gives the longest refrigerated shelf life of 2-3 months.

Do Apples Ripen After Picking?

Yes, apples are considered a living, respiring fruit so they continue ripening after harvest. The internal changes include:

  • Conversion of starch to sugar
  • Lowering of pH (increase in acids)
  • Softening of flesh
  • Change in aroma and flavor

These natural processes don’t stop once the apples are picked. To slow ripening and maintain freshness, apples need to be stored properly after harvest.

Should You Refrigerate Apples Right Away?

It’s best to get apples into refrigerated storage as soon as possible after picking. Chilling them down quickly prevents excessive ripening.

However, don’t refrigerate apples if they aren’t fully mature. Immature apples are damaged by chilling injury if refrigerated below 40°F before adequately ripe.

Check apple maturity at harvest. Refrigerate immediately if firm and fully grown. Allow green, under ripe apples to ripen at room temperature 1-2 weeks before chilling.

How To Tell if An Apple is Ripe?

Signs an apple is fully ripe and ready to eat include:

  • Fully colored skin
  • Slightly yielding to gentle pressure
  • Sweet aroma at stem end when sniffed
  • Seeds dark brown color when cut open
  • Sweet-tart flavor when tasted

Under ripe apples will have green patches on skin, be hard as a rock, and lack aroma and sweetness when sampled.


Fresh picked apples have a variable shelf life ranging from just a couple weeks up to 6 months depending on variety, harvest timing, ripeness, and storage conditions. To maximize longevity of your homegrown or fresh picked apples:

  • Select late season varieties suited for long term storage like Fuji, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp.
  • Allow apples to fully ripen on tree before harvesting.
  • Handle gently to avoid bruising.
  • Store promptly in perforated plastic bags in the fridge.
  • Maintain refrigeration between 32°F and 40°F.
  • Check periodically and remove spoiled fruit.

With proper handling and optimal storage, fresh picked apples can retain their just-harvested flavor and texture for many months past harvest.

Leave a Comment