Whether you've gone apple picking or took advantage of a sale at the market, one way of storing fresh apples for year-round use is by freezing them. If you prepare them properly, your apples should keep well frozen for several months and not taste dried-out or bitter when thawed. Keep in mind that frozen apples are best used in recipes because freezing changes their texture, making them unsuitable for eating raw.
Any type of apple can be frozen. There are a few different ways to successfully freeze apples depending on whether they are whole, sliced, or made into apple pie filling.
Freeze Whole Apples
The easiest way to freeze your apples is to keep them whole. First, wash the apples thoroughly. Then, place them on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once they're completely frozen, transfer the apples to freezer bags. The reason for freezing on a cookie sheet first is so that you don't end up with a frozen clump of apples that will be difficult to store, separate, and thaw.
Freeze Apple Slices
If you have time, and you know you will need sliced apples for recipes, it is best to prep the apples before freezing. Peel, core, and slice the apples to your preferred size. To avoid browning, dip the apple slices in lemon juice, salted water, or an ascorbic acid solution prior to freezing. You can also blanch them for a minute or two to stop the enzyme action that causes browning.
Place the slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the apple slices to freezer bags. The flash freezing will keep the pieces from sticking together, so you'll be able to pull out only the pieces you need later.
Freeze Apple Pie Filling
If you plan on using the apples in a pie that you will make later on in the year (like at Thanksgiving), you can make the pie filling while the apples are fresh and then freeze it. (Some spices lose their potency when frozen, so you may find that it works best to add your pie spices just before baking.) Line pie plates with plastic wrap and place the apple pie filling into the pie plate. Place in the freezer, and once frozen, transfer the filling in the plastic wrap to freezer bags and return to the freezer.
Using Frozen Apples
To use a frozen apple pie filling, simply drop the frozen filling into a pie crust, cover with dough (remember to ventilate the top crust), and bake. There's no need to thaw the apples first, although you'll probably need to bake your pie about 20 minutes longer if using frozen apples.
If you turn the frozen apples into apple butter or applesauce but you're not big on canning, you can freeze both until you're ready to use it. Just be sure to pack into freezer-safe jars or containers, so they don't crack.