Everything you need to know about apples that you didn’t ~
Apples have featured prominently throughout history. Adam and Eve, William Tell, Isaac Newton and Johnny Appleseed have all had apple experiences.
We’ll bet you didn’t know that the apple is a member of the rose family. The crabapple is the only apple native to North America. Apples float because 25% of their volume is air. The top five apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California.
One final apple tidbit: to prevent apple slices from turning brown, let them sit in a mixture of cold water and 1T lemon juice before using.
There are over 7000 different kinds of apples. They range in size from a little larger than a cherry to the size of a grapefruit. One hundred varieties are commercially grown in the U.S. but the top ten most popular make up 90% of the crop. Some are sweet, some are tart, some are good for cooking, some are good for eating and some are good for everything!
Some of the more popular kinds of apples are Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Rome, McIntosh, Empire, Idared, and Jonathon.
- Red Delicious: Very popular, mildly sweet, juicy, crisp with yellow flesh. Great to eat as is or put in a salad. Their beautiful skin color makes them the top choice for use in centerpieces and wreaths. Available October to September.
- Granny Smith: A variety originated in Australia in 1868. It is light green in color, tart, juicy and crisp. Great for eating and cooking. Because it does not brown quickly it is popular for use in salads. It is also great in pies. Available October to April.
- Cortland: This variety is sweet with a little tartness. It is juicy and has very white tender flesh. It is good to eat as is, or use in salads, sauces, pies or other baked goods. It freezes well. Unlike many other varieties, it does not brown quickly when cut so can be used in fruit plates and garnishes. Available September to April.
- Golden Delicious: This is not a yellow version of the Red Delicious. It has a different mildly sweet flavor. It is juicy and crisp, but not as crisp as the Red Delicious, with light yellow flesh. It is good to eat as is, or use in salads, sauces, or pies. It is good to bake with and freezes well. Available September to June.
- Fuji: This is a very popular snacking apple. It is very sweet, juicy, and crisp. It has cream-colored flesh. Great for eating, salads and sauces. Available late October to June.
- Gala: Developed in New Zealand, this variety is mildly sweet and juicy with a crisp creamy yellow flesh. It is great for eating and salads. They tend to grow small. Available September to January.
- Rome: This is another great baking apple. It keeps its shape and flavor well. It is mildly tart with firm greenish white flesh. Great for salads, sauces, pies and baking. It freezes well. Available late October to August.
- McIntosh: Discovered by John McIntosh in 1811, it is sweet and tart, very juicy with soft white flesh. Great for eating or use in sauces, salads and pies. The soft flesh cooks down quickly and will need a thickener if making a pie. Available late September to May.
- Empire: This is a cross between Red Delicious and McIntosh. It tastes sweetly tart, is juicy with flesh that is crisp and creamy white. It is great to eat as is or use in salads, sauces, baking and pies. It freezes well. Available September to July.
- Idared: This is a great baking apple. It holds its shape perfectly and makes pretty pink applesauce. It is sweetly tart and juicy with firm pale yellow-green flesh. It is great for any kid of cooking, particularly sauces, baking and pies. Available October to August.
- Jonathan: This variety is all-purpose. It is shiny red in color, sweetly tart and juicy. It is great for eating and cooking. Available September through February.
Buying and storing apples:
Apples are harvested in the fall. Your best bet for the freshest apples is to find an orchard and pick them yourself. Second best is a farm stand where the apples come from a local orchard.
Apples found in stores at other times of year have been kept in cold storage. This is not a bad thing however, because apples store very well.
When buying apples be aware of a few facts: Apples can remain crisp and tasty for months and months when stored properly. Apples like humidity so don’t let them linger in a bowl on your counter for too long or they will dry out. If you have a manageable amount of apples, they like to be stored in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator in a plastic bag. They will be happy this way up to 6 weeks.
If you buy a bushel of apples store them in a cool garage or basement, whichever is cooler (but not freezing). Apples can stay there into the winter.
Good color means full flavor. Apples picked before they are ripe will not ripen after they are picked.
Apples should be firm and have no bruises. Avoid apples with wrinkled skin, soft flesh or sunken areas.
Nutritional and health benefits of apples:
A medium apple has 80 calories. It has no fat, sodium or cholesterol. It has 170mg of potassium, 5g of fiber, 16g of sugar, 2% daily value of Vitamin A, 8% Vitamin C and 2% Iron.
Here is a list of benefits attributed to the apple’s health-boosting properties:
- Help protect bone health
- Help prevent asthma, heart disease, and cancers such as lung, breast, colon, and liver
- New research suggests that the phytonutrient called quercetin may help to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Pectin in apples can help to lower LDL cholesterol
- Good for diabetes and weight management
- Good source of vitamin C
- Good source of soluble and insoluble fiber
- Excellent source of flavanoids and antioxidants
To get the most benefit from your apple, don’t peel it – 2/3 of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel. Be sure to wash the apple thoroughly before eating.
The debate over organic vs. conventional apples is complicated. We can’t find conclusive evidence that once apples are washed, there are any remaining pesticides that are bad for us. Or conversely, that organic apples are any better. Also, the new darling of the foodies is to eat local, but local very often is not organic. Eating local appears to be trumping organic, but both views are compelling
Watch this GoPro apple picking to cider video to get a look at the process!