Our family loves to go to our local apple orchard to get the “windfalls” deal. Our orchard charges $5 per 5 gallon bucket of apples we find on the ground. For a family of 9, that is a great deal! We try to go as many times as we can.
Each time, we take three of our five gallon buckets lined with a plastic garbage bag. The reason for three is because that is how many fits in our wooden wagon with the pull handle. They would be way too heavy to carry! The reason for the garbage bag is so we can easily lift them out into a laundry basket while we prepare them for storage or use and we can have the bucket available right away. A family with not so many people in their vehicle could take these bags out and put them in the seats or more trunk space and put fresh bags in the bucket and go get more. Our family will fill the buckets with apples, load them in the vehicle, then go enjoy the fun things to do like sample the different varieties of apples, pet the animals, ride on the rides, slide down the slide or do the corn maze at our fun orchard.
Now it’s time to sort the apples. First we look at each apple and try to store the apples with no cuts, holes or bruises. The others we will eat soon, make applesause, desserts, dried apples, fruit leather, etc. In storage, we don’t want the apples to touch each other in case a few go bad, no need to spoil them all. Do not wash. They need their protective waxy coat to better preserve them.
We get a plastic storage container (we find many in our abandoned storage unit resale business) and wrap each apple with newspaper (you could use craft paper, tissue paper, brown paper grocery bags cut into squares, etc.) and place them all along the bottom, as many as we can fit. Then we do two more rows like this. We need to keep it this shallow or the weight would cause more spoilage of the lower layers. We do not put a lid on the container (they need to “breathe”) and store them in our basement which is like a root cellar and somewhat cool. It’s like storing them in a refrigerator, but it’s not as cold as a refrigerator. Some will still go bad, but the paper helps them not to leak those rotting juices onto the other apples.
We label the variety and write “eat first” on the thin skinned and more sweet apples as they do not have as long of a shelf life as the thick skin, tart apples.
When I get apples from the basement, it reminds me of the old sea ships in history books and stories that would be at sea for months and have an “apple barrel” to keep the apples in or Laura Ingalls books when she was married and had an apple orchard. Now we get to live it out and save money on apples!
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