Written By Kindy R. Peaslee, Registered Dietitian
Fall is upon us, the leaves are quickly changing and the season for apples is here. Why not try something new and take your family apple picking this fall and then go home and cook up some homemade applesauce, apple crisp (see recipe below) or apple pie – can’t you just smell the kitchen now? Read on to learn where the apple came from, how to pick an apple and the best way to store them……
The apple tree is believed to be native to southwesternAsia. It cannot be cultivated in tropical climates because it requires a period of cold and dormancy in order to thrive. The largest producers of apples are Russia, China, the United States, Germany, and France.
The qualities to look for in an apple include:
For eating out of hand: a firm, juicy, tasty, crisp apple
For pies: a drier, slightly acid apple
For applesauce: an apple that does not discolor easily
When buying apples, test the degree of ripeness; give the apple a flick close to the stalk; a dull sound indicates ripeness, while a hollow sound is a sign of over ripeness. Choose apples that are firm, brightly colored, and free of bruises. Apples are graded according to their size, shape, and qualities.
Apples can be stored in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator, where they will keep for a few weeks. For longer-term storage, place them in a dark, cool (32 – 40 degree F) and very humid place to prevent them from drying out.
If possible, buy organic apples. Apples win the fall fruit ‘high pesticide contest’ because they don’t develop resistance to pests very well due to the individually grafted trees that produce the large variety of apple choices and do get sprayed more frequently. Organic apples may be more expensive so if you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel the apples first. However, there is some loss of nutrition because the skins of apples contain fiber. As an alternative to peeling, try washing the apples with a vinegar water solution to help reduce pesticide residues.
A medium size apple weighs about 5 ounces. Apples are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. They contain pectin, which helps to control cholesterol, blood sugar, as well as improving digestion. Most of the apple’s nutrients are concentrated just under the skin, so it is best to eat unpeeled. The apple is also a rich source of fiber and an average size apple contains 4 grams of fiber. An apple with skin contains 3 to 5 grams of fiber depending upon the size. Eating raw apples cleans the teeth and massages the gums.
Apple-Pear Crisp & Yogurt Dessert Sauce
At harvest time, there is an abundance of apples and pears. This dessert is a simple and wonderful way to use these autumn fruits. The sauce is a versatile substitute for sweet creams.
4 cups (about 6 apples) tart apples, peeled and sliced
4 cups (about 6 pears), peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup oat bran
¼ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup margarine or butter
Yogurt Dessert Sauce:
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine apples, pears, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Transfer to prepared pan. In a medium bowl, combine oats, oat bran, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. With pastry blender, cut in margarine until uniformly crumbly. Sprinkle topping over apple mixture. Bake for 45 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in food processor or blender; process until satin smooth. Chill until ready to serve. Spoon over warm dessert. Serves 12
Source: Life’s Simple Pleasures by Karen Mangum, MS, RD
Try a fall breakfast recipe with fresh in-season apples and some whole grain ingredients.
Apple Oat Pancakes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: 10-12 pancakes
1 medium to large New York State Empire apple, cored, peeled and grated
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl, combine apples, oats, milk and yogurt; stir. Let sit for 15 minutes. Add Eggs and stir to combine.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and add to above mixture. Add oil and mix. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a hot,lightly oiled griddle, cook over medium heat until golden brown.
Serve with 100% pure maple syrup or applesauce.
About the Author: Kindy Peaslee is a Registered Dietitian from Saratoga Springs, NY. Sign up to receive free healthy recipes at www.healthy-kid-recipes.com and learn more about whole food based nutrition at www.askkindy.com.