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An Apple a Day

Enjoy the Fall Season's Freshest Pick

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

Recently, I was standing in front of a beautiful display of apples at a local grocery store. A very puzzled gentleman asked me which apples were for pies. His wife had given him the shopping list, but had not explained which type of apple to buy. If this sounds familiar, then read on.

Fall, the apple-picking season, is here! Whether you pick your own at an orchard, support your local farmer’s market or shop at the grocery store—with so many varieties available, anyone can get confused. Here’s an easy guide to help choose the best apples for your needs, whether baking, cooking, or just simply eating. 

  • For eating straight from the basket, crisp, juicy, and tangy varieties are best. Red Delicious is the most popular eating apple, but if you prefer a denser, tarter snack, try a Granny Smith, or a softer-fleshed McIntosh. Or check out the distinctive tastes of local farm varieties like Newton, Pippin, Macoun, or Sweet Sixteen.
  • To make applesauce, McIntosh is moist and flavorful. Cortlands and Braeburns also make good choices.
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  • When baking, Rome apples are recommended because they hold their shape well. You can also try Fuijis, which are sweeter, wetter, and have a spicy flavor.
  • In pies, a mix of apples is best. Include Golden Delicious for sweetness and good shape, a tart apple like Granny Smith, and some flavorful varieties like Pippin, Winesap, Crispin and Jonagold.
  • To check out the entire world of apple varieties and usage, as well as delicious recipes, click here.
When selecting apples look for a shiny skin. Dull appearing apples will not be as crisp or as tasty. Your apples should be firm and free of bruises and punctures. Once you bring them home, keep your apples refrigerated. Fruit bowls are beautiful, but your apples will not stay crispy for long on the countertop. In fact, they will last 10 times longer when refrigerated.

Prepare your apple dishes just before serving to minimize browning. Protect cut apples from oxidation (which causes them to turn brown) by dipping them into a solution of one part citrus juice and three parts water.

And if by chance your apples should become soft and mushy, don’t throw them out! Peel, core, and slice them. Place the apple slices in a microwave dish. Sprinkle lightly with some brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, until your desired degree of tenderness is achieved. Serve warm. YUMMY!

And finally…does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Perhaps! Apples are filled with disease-fighting properties. They can help lower blood cholesterol, improve bowel functioning, and reduce your risk of stroke, prostate cancer and diabetes. So get your fill of apples this Fall, while they’re bountiful, affordable, and in-season. Warm cider, anyone?
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