Making a delicious apple pie doesn't have to be accomplished in one sitting -- freezing apples for later use is a great way to cut back on day-of-baking prep work. Plus, you can preserve your favorite apple variety at its peak freshness and then use it in your favorite baked dessert for up to a year later. Although popular apple types -- such as Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious -- are available in grocery stores and farmers' markets year-round, most are freshest from August to early spring.
Choose apples that are firm, crisp and ripe, without brown spots or signs of decay. You can freeze the apples either whole or sliced, but completing the pie filling prep work now can be a major time saver later. To freeze whole, simply wash with cold water, drain and core the apples. Then place them in a freezer-safe bag and freeze.
For pie fillings, use apples with a crisper texture, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious. The dry, more mealy-textured apples, like Red Delicious, do not offer the best consistency for pies.
To prepare sliced apples for freezing:
- Wash apples with cold water.
- Peel (optional).
- Remove the core (use an apple corer or slice the apple into quarters and cut the core off).
- Slice large apples into sixteenths or medium apples into twelfths.
The Dry Pack Method
This method is by far the most popular way to preserve apples for later use. First, place apples slices on a cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen solid. Then, remove the slices with a spatula and pack in plastic freezer-safe plastic containers or bags. Remove excess air and seal the container tightly. Also, remember to label the freeze date. Apples can be kept frozen and maintain high quality for 8 to 12 months.
Keep extra space in your plastic freezer containers to allow for the expansion of the fruit as it freezes. You can also put a piece of parchment paper between the layer of apples and the lid to keep the fruit submerged.
The Sugar Pack Method
For the ultimate time saver, you can prepare the apple pie filling and freeze it. Then, just pop the mixture into the pie crust and bake! To do this, prepare the apple slices as instructed above with this small adjustment: As you are cutting the apples, use a mixture of 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water to sprinkle on each slice. This will help prevent the apples from turning brown. Next, use this basic filling recipe or your own variation:
- 6 cups apples, sliced and peeled (6 medium)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine dry ingredients together and then mix in apples.
To freeze: Place the apple/sugar mixture into an airtight, freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze for up to 12 months.
When you're ready to bake your apple pie, allow the pie mixture to thaw before placing it in the pie crust. Alternatively, if you freeze the filling mixture into an aluminum pie plate, you can simply pop the frozen apple pie mixture directly onto crust and bake the pie at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Finish baking the pie until the crust is golden brown.