Apples- an iconic, trusted, tasty, and popular snack, pie, and lunch bag staple for many. The seventh Get FEd! fruit is APPLES! While apples are most commonly eaten raw or in a baked dessert, their versatility makes them perfect for a wide range of sweet and savory recipes. Fun fact: apples are one of the only crops to grow in all fifty states, making them one of the least imported fruits. Over 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States! The crabapple is the only apple native to North America and was first planted by the Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay. While apples are available year round, they are at peak season in the fall months. During the summer, the availability and variety of apples at the farmers market might be limited, though you will still find the sweet treat at orchards’ stands.
Apples are a heart healthy food that help the gut. Apple are rich in fiber, particularly pectin, a dietary fiber supports healthy digestion by binding fatty substances in the digestive tract, including cholesterol. Apples are potassium dense. Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps to balance fluids in the body, thus having an effect on blood pressure levels and heart rate.
Apples are high in ethylene, a gas that prematurely ripens fruits and vegetables. To avoid premature ripening of your other farmers market fruits and vegetables, store apples separately from the rest of your market haul. An apple’s ethylene can also prematurely ripen other apples; to avoid early spoilage, do not store apples on top or right next to one another. If you’re planning to eat your apples within a few weeks, they’re fine stored on a counter. For longer-term storage, apples are best kept in temperatures ranging from 30-35° F, in the refrigerator crisper. This storage method keeps apples firm and crisp for up to two months, sometimes even more depending on the initial quality of the apple.
The quality of an apple can be easily detected through your eyes and nose. Select apples with smooth skin and without big cuts, bruises, or scratches. Avoid mushy apples. Ripe and ready-to-eat apples will also have an excellent scent. When selecting apples, get to know the different varieties, as the different choices will exhibit different signs of spoilage and ripening. Your farmer is happy to help! If you find yourself with a batch of aging apples that are not up to your beauty or textural standards, you might actually be in luck: apple cake or sauce await you!
Preparation and Pairing:
Apples make the perfect snack. If you’re feeling wild, the creaminess of nut butter or cheese pair impeccably with apples’ crisp bite. To avoid a sliced apple from browning, drizzle with lemon juice. This apple & kale salad takes full advantage of apples’ crunch. If you are looking for something cozy for dessert try we highly recommend oatmeal brown sugar baked apples.
Waldorf Salad from Simply Recipes
6 Tbsp mayonnaise (or plain yogurt)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 sweet apples, cored and chopped
1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half (or 1/4 cup of raisins)
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped, slightly toasted walnuts, or other nut of your choice
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or yogurt), lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Stir in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce or on a slice of your favorite farmers market bread.
Photo credit: Yuri Huta