Backyard Apples

How do I use my backyard apples?

If you have questions about your backyard apples or are tired of making the same apple recipes, we can help! We have put together some general information on harvesting, storage and ways of preserving your backyard bounty. Go beyond applesauce and up your apple game with some new recipes that are sure to please.

Not all backyard apples are equal, and not all growing seasons produce perfect apples for all purposes. Some are great for eating on their own, but mostly they’re ideal for cooking and baking, where any inadequacies in the apples’ texture or sweetness can be overcome with time in the oven and an extra spoonful of sugar.

Before embarking on any large kitchen project using your backyard apples, it’s important that you get to know your apple tree. What do the apples taste like? Do you know what variety of apples you have? Are they firm or mushy, sweet or tart? Also, find out how well they’ll cook by whipping up a quick apple crisp or apple pie before you do any more baking.


Start here:

  • Harvesting
    • First and foremost, don’t use the fallen apples as they will spoil quickly and can contaminate your canning or ruin the taste of your baking. It doesn’t take long for bruised apples on the ground to start attracting ants and other critters. 
    • It is important to know the type of backyard apple you have in order to know when to harvest them. Generally, apples are ready to pick when you can easily remove them from the tree, are firm to the touch. and when cut open has a crisp and juicy texture. Immature apples can taste very sour and overripe can have a very mushy or mealy texture.  
    • Try picking apples daily and storing them in the refrigerator or cold room depending on the type of apple you have. Some backyard apples soften and overripen quickly if not refrigerated. 
  • Storage
    • Ideally, you should store backyard apples in single layers in a paper bag or cardboard box in the fridge or in a cold room, arranged so that the apples aren’t touching each other. They’re not the same as supermarket apples and they should be used quickly, or they’ll spoil. Check regularly and remove any spoiled apples. 
  • Preserving
    • There are several ways to preserve your bounty depending on how you want to use your apples in the next year.  If you want to freeze or can them, it is important to use an anti-darkening solution to prevent your apples from turning brown.  
    • Freezing is by far the easiest way to preserve apples. Before you start, decide on how you want to pack the apples and which anti- darkening method you want to use. We have all the important freezing fruit information here:


    Apple Slices: 

    • Wash, peel and core. Slice into 1/4-inch slices directly into an anti-darkening holding solution to prevent browning. Drain before packing them to freeze. 
    • For crisps, cobblers or pies, use an anti-darkening method in a medium syrup before packaging for the freezer. 
    • For pie-making or applesauce, use an anti-darkening method in a sugar pack or dry pack before freezing. 

    Other ways to freeze: 

    • Applesauce is a quick and easy way to use up apples and crabapples and it freezes well. 
    • Cooking down the apples, extracting the juice and freezing it to drink or make jelly in the winter is another option.  
    • Making apple pies and freezing them unbaked is a wonderful way to stretch your harvest into the dead of winter. Just remember to use quick-cooking tapioca as a thickener (not corn starch, which loses its thickening properties when frozen) and bake from frozen until the pie filling is bubbling through the vents. 
    • Home canning is another way to preserve your apples. This method takes longer and requires important steps to ensure the safety of your product. Before you begin, read through our General Directions for Canning Fruit to get the most up-to-date information and learn how to water bath process your fruit for storing in the pantry.  


    Jams & Jellies
    • Making jellies are also a great way to use up your backyard apples. If you are making jam or jelly for the first time or you need a refresher, read through these general guidelines before starting to get up-to-date information on jam and jelly making:


Fresh apple recipes:

  • Easy
    Baked Apples
  • Easy
    Apple Chutney with Thyme
  • Easy
    Apple, Bacon and Blue Cheese Salad