I have been told for years that apple pie can be baked ahead of time and left out covered on the counter. This has meant that Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings could be devoted to the rest of the meal without spending time and valuable oven space on pies. But is it really safe to leave apple and Dutch apple pies out at room temperature overnight? I did some research to make sure and this is what I found out.
Apple pie, whether regular or Dutch apple, does not have to be refrigerated. This is because they are not made with any eggs or any form of dairy and contain only fruit, sugar, and spices. According to the USDA, they will be good for 2 days at room temperature and an additional 2 days in the fridge.
The scientific reason apple pies do not need refrigeration is that they do not contain the levels of protein and moisture that support the relatively fast growth of bacteria that would make it necessary to refrigerate them soon after they are made.
Now let’s explore the subject in greater detail.
How Long Does Apple Pie Last Once Baked?
How long apple pie lasts, as with any other type of pie, depends on the ingredients and the temperature of the room after it is removed from the oven. More specifically:
- If the pie contains eggs or any dairy product, it must be refrigerated as soon as it is cool enough to be refrigerated.
- Since apple pie, or any fruit pie, contains no eggs or dairy, they will be good without refrigeration for 2 days and 2 additional days in the refrigerator.
- If your house has a cool area like a utility room, porch, or root cellar where the temperature is 40 degrees or below, it would be safe to leave any kind of pie there for at least 2 days without refrigeration.
- If Apple or Dutch apple pie is still around after about 4 days, it can be wrapped carefully and frozen.
Here are recommendations for how long most types of pie last with refrigeration and without:
|Type of Pie||Should they be refrigerated immediately||Table Shelf Life||Refrigerated Shelf Life||Freezer Shelf Life|
|Apple Pie||No||2 days||2 additional days||6-8 months|
|Cream or custard||Yes||2 hours||4 days||Do not freeze|
|Any Fruit||No||2 days||2 additional days||6-8 months|
|Savory||Yes||2 hours||4 days||6-8 months|
|Sweet Potato & Pumpkin||Yes||2 hours||4 days||6-8 months|
How to Tell If Apple Pie Has Gone Bad
- The first sign that an apple or any other fruit pie is going bad is that the crust will become soggy. At that point, it should still be safe to eat, but the soggy crust may affect the taste.
- Any odd odor should alert you to the fact that the pie should be discarded.
- If the pie looks a little unappetizing but tastes alright, it should be safe to eat if it smells good, and there are no signs of mold.
- If the apple pie begins to show signs of mold, it should be discarded right away.
Things That Help Apple Pies Last Longer
There are a few things you can do to make your apple pies last longer.
- Refrigerate as soon as possible after baking.
- If not refrigerated after baking, you can safely store apple pies made with sugar at room temperature in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and away from excessive temperatures.
- Apple pies made without sugar or with artificial sweeteners must be refrigerated within 2 hours of baking.
- Keep the pie covered to avoid airborne contamination.
- Use a knife or pie server that is dedicated solely to that particular pie to avoid cross-contamination with other food.
- Once an apple pie is refrigerated and you pull it out to serve, don’t leave it unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
- Freeze apple pies after 4 days to use at a later date. It is important that you use a freezer-safe container to do so. Here is one found on Amazon that is perfect for the task.
What to Do If You Have Too Many Pies
If you should find yourself with too many leftover apple pies and you have given away as many as you possibly can, put them into the freezer unwrapped until completely frozen. Then, wrap them carefully with foil and freeze them to be used at a later date. Most apple pies will last for 6 to 8 months in the freezer.
Types of Pie That Would Not Be Safe Ever to Leave Unrefrigerated
Any pies made with dairy products and/or eggs would not be safe to eat if left unrefrigerated after baking. And, any fruit pies made without sugar or with a sugar substitute such as Stevia, Truvia, or Splenda must be refrigerated within 2 hours of baking. The sugar substitutes do not provide your baked goods with the natural preservative that pure cane sugar does.
Can Apple Pies be Frozen?
Apple pies can definitely be frozen for 6 to 8 months, and possibly for up to 1 year.
How to Prepare a Pie for Freezing
Wait until the pie is completely cooled before freezing. Apple pies should be placed in the freezer unwrapped until completely frozen, then wrapped in a good layer of aluminum foil to protect from freezer burn.
How to Thaw a Frozen Pie
Remove the frozen pie from the freezer 12 to 24 hours before serving and remove the foil and plastic wrap. Allow the pie to thaw in the refrigerator to avoid condensation that would ruin the crust by making it soggy. Let me stress here that any frozen pie should not be allowed to thaw at room temperature, which would cause condensation that would make the pie crust soggy. Instead, allow any frozen pie to thaw in the refrigerator.
After a frozen apple pie has completely thawed, it can be reheated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 30 minutes, and it will taste just like fresh!
How to Store an Unbaked Apple Pie
- Unbaked apple or other fruit pies can be covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Unbaked fruit pies can also be placed in a freezer bag or wrapped securely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and kept in the freezer for up to 4 months.
- When you are ready to bake the frozen fruit pie, unwrap the pie, cut approximately 6 vent holes in the upper crust, and place it on a cookie sheet. Bake without thawing at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
NOTE: When taking a pie from freezer to oven, I recommend using a metal pan as pyrex, and even corning ware have been known to shatter when going through these drastic temperature changes.
How to Store Apple Pie From the Grocery
Unlike most homemade pies, apple pie purchased from the grocery or supermarket contains preservatives that allow them to remain unrefrigerated. So, if you bought a pie from a deli, it will be good unrefrigerated until it’s expiration date. But, if you purchased it from the freezer or refrigerated section, the pie and any leftovers will need to be stored in your refrigerator.
Interesting Facts About Apple Pie
- The first mention of apples in history were comments by Alexander the Great in 328 BCE when he wrote that apples he encountered in Kazakhstan appeared to be “dwarfed.”
- The only kind of apple that grew in America before the founding of the settlement at Jamestown was the crabapple.
- Johnny Appleseed is a folk tale based on the life of John Chapman, who was born in 1774, and spent his life establishing apple orchards across the midwest but primarily in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The apples he planted were not the sweet varieties that we enjoy today but were the small tart apples used in making cider.
- Even though apple pie has, for many years, been a symbol of America, according to the Smithsonian Magazine website, “Apple pie is not all that American. Neither apples nor the pie originally came from America…” The early European settlers of Jamestown actually brought apple tree cuttings and seeds with them when they immigrated to the new world, and “the first recorded recipe for apple pie was written in 1381 in England, and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron in addition to apples.”
- There are recipes for Dutch apple pies that date back to 1514.
- The first apple pies contained no sugar.
- The first apples grown in America were not used to make pies, but instead were very tart and were used to make cider.
- The beginning of the use of the term, “as American as apple pie” is hard to pin down, but an advertisement in the Gettysburg Times promoting New Lestz Suits used the term as “American as apple pie.” But, by World War II, the term became commonplace as soldiers began to say that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie.”
What Is the Difference Between Apple Pie and Dutch Apple Pie
The difference between apple pie and Dutch apple pie is in the topping. Apple pie has a pie crust top and bottom with the apple pie filling nestled in between. The Dutch apple pie, however, has a bottom crust into which the pie filling is poured and, finally, is topped by a streusel made of sugar, butter, and flour sprinkled on top of the pie filling before it is baked. You can compare the two in the following recipes:
Homemade Apple Pie Recipe
- Pastry for a double-crust 9” pie
- 6-8 apples (approximately 6 cups thinly sliced)(one of the tart varieties is best)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup of granulated sugar
- ½ cup of firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Prepare the pie crust.
- Wash, peel, core, and slice the apples.
- Mix apple slices with lemon juice in a mixing bowl.
- Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, and spices.
- Add flour mixture and vanilla to apple slices and mix well, coating all apple slices.
- Pour apple mixture into pie crust.
- Cover with solid or lattice top crust.
- Place into heated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
- Tent top of pie with foil if crust gets too brown.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 1 hour before serving.
Dutch Apple Pie Recipe
- Pastry for a single-crust 9” pie
- 6-8 Granny Smith apples (approximately 6 cups thinly sliced)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup of granulated sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup butter
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare the pie crust.
- Wash, peel, core, and slice the apples.
- Place apple slices in pie crust
- Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
- Pour flour mixture over apple slices.
- Sprinkle lemon juice on top.
- Combine ½ cup sugar, ½ flour, and ½ cup butter with a pastry cutter and pour over apples.
- Place on the baking sheet and tent pie with parchment paper.
- Place into heated oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven, remove parchment, and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Even though most of the pies we are familiar with require refrigeration because they contain eggs and/or dairy products, the apple pie, the Dutch apple pie, and any other fruit pie do not require refrigeration for up to 2 days as long as they are made with sugar.
However, sugar-free fruit pies must be refrigerated because they do not have the benefit of the preserving properties of pure cane sugar. Also, fruit pies that are made with any of the many sugar substitutes available to us, including Stevia, Truvia, ….., must be refrigerated because even though these products are sugar substitutes, they do not contain the preserving properties of sugar.
So, once again, even though fruit pies do not require immediate refrigeration, they are only good unrefrigerated for up to 2 days. At this time, they can be refrigerated for 2 additional days and then frozen for 6 to 8 months.
Another vital thing to keep in mind was when the pies were baked, when they need to go into the refrigerator or freezer, and when they should be discarded. It is not always possible to determine by sight and smell just when a pie is no longer safe to eat. If you make quite a few pies for a holiday meal, just keep a record somewhere of the date each one was baked along with the following information:
- Pies containing eggs and dairy products will be good for 4 days in the refrigerator and then should be frozen or discarded.
- Any kind of fruit pies made with sugar will be good at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 2 more days, and should then be frozen or discarded.
- Any pie that hangs around for a week should be discarded and not eaten.
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