Apples, a food available all year round, are especially plentiful now in Pennsylvania. This year’s crop in the northeast is much more plentiful than previous years. It’s fun to learn the different varieties and how to best bring out their flavors in recipes.
In Pennsylvania, we grow several traditional varieties, along with some heirloom. Apples can be enjoyed as a snack, in salads, in pies, applesauce and, of course, just baked. The best overall apples which fit in all of these categories are ginger gold, Cortland, golden delicious, nittany, stayman (winesap), fuji, braeburn and granny smith.
How can you easily add apples to your diet? Here are easy tips to get you started:
* Slice an apple onto your sandwich or salad for a crunchy treat.
* Dip apple slices in low- or no-fat vanilla yogurt for an easy lunch or snack.
* Stir chopped apples with the skin on into your hot or cold breakfast salad.
* Add chopped apples to your favorite coleslaw.
* Add chopped apples to your favorite pasta salad recipe.
* Add apples and sliced cabbage to sauerkraut when heating (takes the bite away).
* Add sliced apples onto top of pork chops when baking.
* Add sliced apples to your favorite chicken stir fry recipe.
Once you purchase apples, either from the orchard, farmers’ market or store, keep them at their best by following these storage and handling tips:
* Select firm apples free from bruises. To keep apples crisp, keep them cold. Apples ripen 8 to 10 times faster at room temperature.
* Store apples in a ventilated plastic bag or hydrator drawer to prevent them from absorbing other food flavors. * Dip apples in lemon juice after slicing to prevent browning. Always wash apples in plain water before eating.
* Apples are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth yet not cause tooth decay like soda and candy. They also contain insoluble fiber and phytochemicals in their peelings so keep the skin on.
Now is the time to freeze apples for apple crunch or pie. Here’s how.
Select full-flavored apples that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium apples into 12ths, large ones into 16ths. Choose either methods, sugar pack or dry to use to freeze the apples.
Sugar pack – To prevent darkening, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle over the fruit. Or, apple slices can be steam blanched for 11/2 to 2 minutes.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 quart (1 1/4 pounds) of fruit. Pack apples into containers and press fruit down, leaving enough headspace. Seal and freeze.
Dry pack – Follow the directions for Sugar Pack, omitting the sugar. Treated apple slices can also be frozen first on a tray and then packed into containers as soon as they are frozen.
Apple Walnut Crisp
1/2 cup all purpose white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup each, granulated sugar and brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) chilled margarine cut into small pieces
7 cups thawed, frozen apples
3 tablespoons apple juice or cider
1/2 cup whole walnuts
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat eight-inch baking dish with cooking spray set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended. Cut in chilled margarine using a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. In another bowl, combine apples, apple juice and walnuts. Spoon the apple mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!