The gusty winds and torrential rain over the last few days has brought down some of my apples. These are no good for storing, but it has me focussed on how to keep the abundance of apples we expect to harvest in a few weeks time.
In an ideal world where I am as rich as Croesus I would have one of these...
.... This one is £299 from Harrod Horticulture - very nice, but in this world... I have to make do. The damaged apples are destined for apple puree or frozen in slices ready for crumbles and eve's pudding throughout the long cold winter months ahead. But the perfect ones... the really good eating ones, need to be stored properly if they are going to last until next year.
Firstly, the apples you choose for storage must be perfect, unblemished specimens. You don't have to wash them but its a good idea to give them a rub with a dry cloth to remove any last specks of dirt or 'creatures' that might be hanging in there in the hope of a good meal when you're not looking.
The ideal container would be a cardboard or wooden tray just a little bit taller than the apples, or even a supermarket plastic tray would do... (you know the one's they display the fruit and veg in). Here I am using a basket because it is all I have available (and of course the apples are not the one's that I intend to store, those are still on the tree, this is just for demonstration purposes). In the past I have stored apples in the drawers of an old dressing table in the potting shed - You need to have a good search around to find something suitable. It should be fairly sturdy, dry and not air tight.
Take a single sheet of newspaper. Fold it in half and then half again, and if the strip of newspaper is still a lot wider than the height of your biggest apple then you need to fold it over again, until it is just a tad wider than the biggest one.
Make two of these, exactly the same size. Lie them flat, one on top of the other and then secure one end with selotape, (not very eco friendly, but not sure if stapling it would be any better... perhaps you can think of a different way), and then selotape the two strips together every 4 or 5 inches along the length of the newspaper strip (secure both top and bottom) to make little pockets into which you can slip the apples...
Start making more and building up rows of apples. The aim is keep each apple separate from it's neighbour and thus any rotting during the storage can be kept to a minimum. Here I selotaped the top of the paper strip after inserting the apples, sometimes it's easier to do it this way, especially if your apples are all different sizes like mine.
Once you have a single layer you could cover it with sturdy cardboard and begin a second layer. Or if your box is more shallow then you can start a second box and stack them. Placing a wadge of folded newspaper between stacked boxes is a good idea too... it allows air to circulate.
Store your apples in a cool dry place - garage or unheated bedroom would do. Remember to check them periodically just in case any of the apples has gone bad and remove spoiled ones the instant you find them. Your apples should last well into next summer this way (could even last until next autumn but I always eat them all long before that!)