Apples, Apples, Everywhere!
It's autumn, the season that brings a glorious selection of fresh and juicy apples! With apples at their best in taste, variety, nutrition, and price, it's the perfect time to learn more about the fruit that "keeps the doctor away." In this article, we'll cover a few health notes, explore apple varieties, and look at a great apple recipe, but first, a few interesting apple facts to 'ripen' your interest!
by Dreena Burton, author of The Everyday Vegan published by Arsenal Pulp Press
Article continues below
Did you know?...
Health Notes: Apples to relieve stress?!
- 2500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
- 25 percent of an apple's volume is air (that's why they float!).
- Apples are a member of the rose family.
- The science of growing apples is called pomology.
- Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
- The largest apple picked weighed 3 pounds!
- Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
- It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
- Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been enjoying apples since at least 6500 B.C.
- Apples have 5 seeds. There are five seed pockets, each with a seed, in one apple.
- Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States (oranges are first).
- The average American eats 19.6 pounds of apples (about 65 fresh apples) every year (I think we can assume that vegans and vegetarians eat far more!).
Apples are low in calories (one medium apple has about 80 calories) and are an excellent source of a soluble fiber called pectin, which provides bulk, aids digestion, and helps reduce cholesterol levels. Research has shown that pectin limits the cholesterol the body absorbs and may play a role in preventing heart disease. Apples are also a natural toothbrush. Reductions in dental care have been found when apples have been eaten in place of, or following, excessive consumption of sweet, sticky foods. Now, what about relieving some of our tension? University studies have shown that students who eat apples regularly reported fewer headaches and illnesses associated with stress, and also had less colds and minor upper respiratory ailments!
A Bushel of Apples: What and How to Choose
Apples come in various shades of red, yellow, green, but you'll need to look at more than color to choose good apples. Pick firm apples with smooth, bright skins, and little to no bruising. Bigger isn't necessarily better; go for small or medium, as the texture of large apples can be mealier than smaller ones.
Storage affects the longevity of apples, which ripen 6 to 10 times faster at room temperature than if refrigerated. So, after a couple of days sitting on your counter, apples may lose that lovely fresh crunchy texture. Keep small quantities of apples in plastic bags in your refrigerator. (I wash them first and then store in partially opened zip bags in my crisper drawer. They keep wonderfully this way.) The plastic bags help the apples retain their own moisture and prevent them from absorbing other odors. Also, check on your apples and remove any that are rotten or decaying... one bad apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch!
Now that we know how to pick and store apples, which ones should we choose for fresh eating, pies, sauces, and baking? There are so many varieties, and as many varying opinions about which work best for each purpose! Here is a condensed list of highly rated apples:
Fresh eating: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji (my personal fave!), Gala, Jonagold, Mutsu, Empire, Cameo, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Braeburn, Winesap, and McInstosh.
Pies: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Cameo, and Newton Pippin (Also consider Fuji and Gala).
Sauce: Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Pink Lady, and Cameo (Also consider McIntosh and Newton Pippin).
Baking Whole: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Cameo, and Rome Beauty (Also consider Gala).
So, during apple season, try some of these different varieties and you might find a few new favorites!!
Recipe: Apple Cherry Crisp
Now let's eat! This recipe is from my first cookbook, The Everyday Vegan. It is an easy, healthy, tasty apple crisp that can be modified to include other fruits or ingredients of your choice. For instance, ingredients like toasted almonds and pecans and a sprinkling of raisins would be a nice addition. Or, because cherries are no longer in season, you can simply use more apples (a combination of tart and sweet would be nice), or substitute frozen cherries or berries for the fresh cherries (baking time will be a little longer using frozen fruit). Unlike a lot of fruit crisps, I have kept the fat content low, using just a tablespoon of oil in the topping. This makes for a very healthy snack or dessert paired with some non-dairy ice cream. Of course, if you like a richer topping, you can easily modify and add a few more tablespoons of oil to the mixture.
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
2 cups chopped apples (cored and peel removed)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups fresh cherries, stems and pits removed (or substitute more apples or other fruits, as noted above)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1 - 1¼ cup* quick oats
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
few good pinches of sea salt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1- 1½ tablespoons canola oil (or more, as noted above)
*Note: I like to have just a thin layer of topping on my fruit crisp, so I will use just 1 cup of oats. If you want the topping a little thicker, go ahead and use the extra 1/4 cup.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the fruit mixture, mix maple syrup and arrowroot until smooth. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, then add maple syrup mixture and remaining fruits mixture. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish (8" x 8" or similar size). For the topping, in another bowl, combine oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well, then add maple syrup and canola oil. Work mixture with your hands, then sprinkle it evenly over the fruit, lightly pressing it down. Bake for 38-43 minutes until bubbling around the edges and lightly browned. Remove and cool a little before serving (lovely served with a non-dairy ice cream). Serves 4-5.
Nutritional Analysis (for 5 servings, per serving): Calories: 237; Total Fat: 4.5 g (Sat. Fat: 0.5 g); Cholesterol: 0 mg; Carbohydrate: 45.1g; Fiber: 4.4g; Protein: 3.9g.