The cooling temperatures of autumn bring the harvest and sun-filled days at the apple orchard. However, this can lead you to have an overabundance of apples. What to do with the excess? You can freeze them, but if so, will they still be suitable for pie baking? We have consulted experts in the field of baking and food preservation to help you make this determination.
You can certainly use frozen apples to make pies. The key is to choose a variety of apple that holds up well in freezing and then to utilize proper preservation methods. Most experts agree that you should also not thaw the apples before cooking. This combination will get you the best results.
Freezing apples for future pie making is an easy process, but the devil is in the details! Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about preserving then using your harvest!
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Baking Pies From Frozen Apples
While it is perfectly fine to make baked goods from your frozen apples, there are some things that you can do to enhance the quality of your finished product, from choosing the right variety of apples to your freezing technique.
The Best Apples For Freezing
While all apples are good for freezing, some are better than others when it comes to maintaining the firmer texture that you want in an apple pie. Some apples are softer, and once frozen then cooked will become mushy and are much better for applesauce or apple butter.
The best variety of apples for freezing for pie are Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Cortland, and Empire. These apples are all very firm, with a stronger flavor. Granny Smith is the most popular pie apple and is the firmest, crispest type with a very distinctive tart flavor.
After choosing your apples, make sure that you process them as quickly as possible after harvest. This is true of any produce that you want to preserve; the longer you wait after picking, the poorer the quality.
That being said, if you have a chance to pick up a couple of bushels of 'ugly' apples at the end of the season, don't let that deter you! Canning or freezing is a great way to make use of the leftovers that would otherwise get tossed, reducing food waste all while stocking your freezer!
How to Freeze Apples for Pie
The method that you use for freezing your apples is just as important as the type of apple that you choose. There are a few ways that you can do this that works great for pie apples, and one that does not.
Freezing Whole Apples
This is the one method that you should not use if you plan on using your apples for pie. This is because in order to slice your apples, you will need to thaw them, and thawed apples tend to go mushy.
To learn more about freezing whole apples, head over to this article: Can You Freeze Apples Whole?
Sugar Pack Apples
This method works wonderfully for pie apples. First, peel then slice your apples into consistently sized slices.
Next, mix 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid into 3 tablespoons of water and sprinkle over the slices to prevent browning. Then mix 1/2 cup of sugar per quart of apples and pack tightly into your freezer containers, leaving about an inch of headspace.
Dry Pack Apples
Dry packing apples works the same way as sugar packing, except that you do not add sugar to the apples.
Since you don't have that coating on the fruit, it is best to lay the apple slices out on a sheet pan and freeze in a layer before packing into a freezer container or the fruit will all freeze together on a big clump.
Premade Apple Pie Filling
This method really makes it easy for you. Just dump your frozen filling into a prepared pie crust, bake and go! To make it, simply make your favorite pie filling recipe, then pack into your freezer container, leaving 1 inch of headspace, then freeze until you are ready to use.
Do You Thaw Frozen Apples Before Making a Pie?
While you can thaw your apples before baking, it is not recommended to do so for pie. Thawed apples tend to get mushy, which is better for recipes that call for pureed apples, like applesauce cake or apple butter. For the best results, you should mix your filling and bake while your apples are still frozen.
Try these three recipes from Home & Family to try making pie from fresh, frozen, and thawed apples for yourself!
How Long do frozen apples last?
Frozen apples will keep in your freezer for 6 to 12 months. They are best if used before the 6-month mark, as they may start to lose some of their crispness as time passes.
However, there is no reason that your late fall harvest can't provide for your Easter feast as long as you follow your proper preservation procedures.
How do you defrost frozen apples?
There are a few different ways that you can defrost your frozen apples. For safety reasons, you should not thaw any food item at room temperature, as this can cause bacteria to grow and make you sick.
1. Thaw Slowly in the Fridge
The best and safest means of thawing apples is in the fridge overnight. This is especially true f you want to preserve as much of the texture as possible. The higher the thawing temperature, the less firmness will remain to your fruit.
2. Thaw in Cold Water
This method is faster than the fridge but much slower than the microwave. Measure the amount of frozen fruit that you need into a sealable bag, then place it in a bowl and run cold water over it until it is thawed.
Before baking, you want to remove as much liquid as possible from the fruit, so press gently on the apple slices in the colander. There will still be some residue liquid, which will increase the chance that your pie filling will not be as chunky, but it will still taste good!
This is is the fastest way to thaw your apples, but you will not want to use them for pie unless you want an apple-butter type filling (which is good too!).
Use the microwave if you are making a recipe that called for applesauce or pureed apples. Just thaw them, drain, and pop in the food processor for a few seconds until you have the appropriate texture for your recipe. If you use this method, you need to cook or use the fruit immediately.
How long does it take to defrost frozen Apples?
Obviously, the more apples you are trying to thaw, the longer it will take. However, for the purposes of this response, we will assume that you are wanting to bake a pie.
In the fridge, apples for a pie should defrost overnight, or approximately 6 to 8 hours per pound. If you use the running water method, it will take 1/2 to 1 hour to thaw one pound.
Is Frozen fruit mushy when thawed?
It depends on the kind of fruit and the thawing method. Small fruits like blueberries with skin that have been thawed in the refrigerator overnight will be softer, but still fairly intact. This is the best method for thawing any kind of fruit, especially apples.
However, soft fruits like melon, strawberries, and tropical fruits will be pretty soft once defrosted. And if you use the running water method, they will be even softer. Microwaving is a good option if you are going to be using the fruit in a puree or smoothie, but that is about it.
Freezing apples is a wonderful way to enjoy the fruits of your harvest through the winter months. If you choose the right type of apples, process them promptly and correctly, you'll have the perfect recipe for a delicious taste-of-autumn apple pie!
Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts that may be of interest to you:
Can You Freeze Apples For Smoothies? [Inc. 5 Great Recipes!]