Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Season! How to Cook, Eat, Buy, and Store Apples

Anyone who has experienced a winter up north is well aware that between November and March the fruit looks dead. Wilty. Wrinkly. Pale. And dead. Only a few bright and shiny pieces of fruit gleam in the drone of listlessness. One of those are the apples. Thank goodness Johnny Appleseed was around in the 1700s to spread apple seeds across numerous states because now we can enjoy these beauties year round.

I will say that several years ago in blisterly Minnesota winters, I would have jumped at any apple. Any piece of fruit with life. Nowadays, I've become a bit of an apple snob...choosing organic over conventional given the fact that apples are numero uno on the dirty dozen list for pesticides and insecticides with a whopping 98% of the conventional ones being coated with the gunk. I'm not saying you have to buy organic too, but something for all you lovelies to think about.

Before I get into the grit and grind, keep in mind that most people have a favorite kind. With hundreds of varieties available, the characteristics can be just as varied as their appearance. So, I challenge all you so-called apple dislikers or 'not my favorite fruit' people to test the waters with a new variety this season.

I wouldn't be doing this post if apples weren't blessed with fabo nutrition in a pretty package. The average apple (1 cup, or tennis ball/average women's fist) has 65 calories, 3 g fiber, 10% of daily requirements for Vitamin C, and is also high in vitamin B6, potassium, and the phenol antioxidants.
Cooking and Eating Apples
New-ish uses for the familiar fruit (see specifics for best uses with various types below):
1. Slice apples thinly and add into pancake batter with walnuts, cinnamon, and dash of nutmeg
2. Hollow out raw apple, stuff with diced inerds, raisins, cinnamon and bake 350 degrees for 30min for warming dessert
3. Apple, Veggie, and Hummus...make like pseudo quesadilla with hummus as the 'glue'...PS: the apple and hummus combination rocks!
4. Dice up in chickpea "chicken" salad...the sweet crunch blends so well with the more savory/salty salad
5. Speaking of salad, add apples with candied pecans and dried cranberries to a bed of spinach
6. Slice thinly, spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 400 about 20minutes to make apple chips. Or make in a dehydrater.
7. Throw them into oatmeal with a few granola clusters and brown sugar for apple pie oatmeal
8. Spread peanut or almond butter on apple sections (ok, not a novel idea, but you just can't go wrong!)
9. Chop and add into you favorite fruit smoothie. Apples will add texture without an overpowering taste.
10. Spread apple butter on whole grain toast. Make your own by slow cooking 3-4 apples, 1 cup applesauce, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a crock pot for 6-8 hours.

Best Uses Guide
The following guide will help you determine the best use for different varieties of apples:

Best for eating fresh:   Gala, Fuji, Mutsu, Jonathan, Cameo, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Empire, Red Delicious, McIntosh, Braeburn, Winesap, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp

Best for pies:  Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Rhode Island Greening, Pippin, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp

Best for applesauce:   Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, McIntosh, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp

Best for baking:   Rome, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Pippin, Gala, Braeburn, Northern Spy, Gravenstein, York Imperial, Honeycrisp  

Best for salads:  Cortland, Golden Delicious, Empire, Gala, Red Delicious, Fuji, Winesap, Criterion, Pink Lady

Thomas P. Greenmarket: The Complete Guide to New York City’s Farmers Markets. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 1999.

Buying and Storing
Apples are best consumed when harvested between late August and October. They store well until the middle of the winter season, but do lose a nubbin of their nutritional value with time. Follow these tips when selecting applies:
  • Avoid apples with bruises or damage to their skin; however, brown or dry spots on the apple do not affect flavor and are good to eat
  • Store apples unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator
  • Store apples separately from cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
  • Do not allow apples to have contact with lettuce, cucumbers, or greens, because apples give off a gas that will speed up their deterioration
  • Use apples to help ripen fruits such as pears, peaches, and plums; place the unripened fruit in a bag with an apple—the gas given off from the apple will help to ripen the underripe fruit

1 comment:

  1. This is certainly one of the must-see guides about how to cook, eat, buy and store apples. I like apples, but so far I’ve eaten a few variants of this delight fruit.

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