[nafex] Preserving apples: Does any of this make sense?

Brungardt, Sam (MPCA) sam.brungardt at state.mn.us
Tue Jan 29 10:36:13 EST 2013

1. Jim, storing fruit in a grain bin is a very old method of storage.  It works as long as frost does not penetrate into the grain as far as the fruit is located.  The grain provides insulation and a fairly even temperature, one that is not quickly changed by fluctuations in the air temperature.  In Russia, my forebears stored watermelons in the fall by burying them in a grain bin.  The frost did not penetrate the grain until around November, and by that time the melons had been consumed.

2. "Tempering" involves exposing a substance to heat.  I would guess that tempered sand is sand that had been heated enough to destroy any pathogens or weed seeds in it.  After the sand has cooled, it could be used as a medium for storing apples.

3. Storing apples in water is another trick from the old country.  Although in Russia apples were stored in a salt brine (sometimes to which spices or herbs had been added) and then allowed to ferment, thus preserving them (the result was a rather sour apple, a little rubbery in texture that was eaten, either as is or cooked with meat, such as pork or roast goose).  Often apples were simply buried in the shredded cabbage when it was put down and salted to make sauerkraut.  I would guess that covering the apples with juniper sprigs, weighting the apples and juniper sprigs down with boards (and presumably a rock on top of the boards), and then covering with "clean" well water might keep the apples from fermenting as would removing them from the water only with a fork or other implement and not with one's hands (using one's hands would most likely introduce bacteria or fungal spores to the water in which the apples were stored and the same would happen if the apples were allowed to float and be exposed to the air).

I hope this helps. -- Sam Brungardt, St. Paul, Minn. (USDA Hardiness Zone 4a)

-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Jim Fruth
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 8:03 PM
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [nafex] Does this make any sense?

    A friend of mine sent me this email wondering if any of these methods for storing apples actually works.  What do you think?

Jim  -Last fall, I picked up an old book in German at a neighbors garage sale. The title "Der Praktische Rathgeber", means: "the practical advice giver" and it was printed in Milwaukee, WI in 1877. It contains info on hundreds of subjects from A to Z for pioneer settlers in the USA. Since my wife always gets baskets of apples from the orchard on her folks farm, I found an article about preserving apples interesting and am sending you my translation of that section to find out whether or not you think those methods were actually successful. Three different methods were given under, "Preserving Apples":
1.  Stick the apples in a grain bin.
2.  In a vessel with an airtight cover, layer apples in tempered sand, without touching each other.  (?what is tempered sand?)
3.  Fill a clean tub or wooden vessel, within several inches from the top, with apples. Cover the apples with sprigs of juniper and place some narrow boards over them, close enough so no apples can get between. Crosswise over those boards, place another board with a rock on top of it, to hold everything down. Fill the container with enough clean well water to cover the first layer of boards. These apples stay in this water until the nest spring or later. If apples are taken out a few at a time, take care not to remove all the boards nor reach in the water with your hand, but spear the apple out with a fork.

Does that make any sense?

Jim Fruth
Pequot Lakes, MN 

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