A favourite among school lunches, apples are beautiful, sweet and delicious with its built-in carry case to travel well. Sweet, crisp and juicy, apples have long been a fall favourite of many. Although apples appear in produce markets year round, it’s the cooler days and nights of autumn that signal an earnest start to the apple season from our local orchards.
A round or oval shaped fruit that is harvested from lower growing trees found in most of the temperate regions of the world. The fruit has a thin skin that may range in color from shades of green, yellow, and red or any combination of these. The flesh is generally off-white or cream colored and is very juicy. The generally sweet flavor may be slightly sour, tart, or even a bit bland depending on the variety. Among the many varieties, some of Ralph’s common staples are:
- Summer Apples: Empire, Gingergold, and Sunrise
- Fall onwards: Ambrosia, Braeburn, Fuji, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, MacIntosh, Pink Lady, Red Delicious Spartan, and #2 Apples.
Some apples lend themselves wonderfully well to eating out of hand, while others have softer textures which may not be as appealing fresh, but are transformed into something heavenly when baked. Another noteworthy tidbit is that although apple varieties are characterized by a certain level of sweetness when harvested, by January most starches are converted to sugar. So between January and summer the range of sugar content between varieties lessens greatly.
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Apple Usage Chart
Click here to glance at the characteristics for individual varieties.
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HOW TO CHOOSE
Apples are available year-round because of their impressive lasting-power, but this cold-hardy fruit is at its peak of freshness from summer’s end through spring.
Although we are drawn to apples by their appearance, it’s a good idea to add touch to your checklist. For best flavour and crispness, try to find well-shaped apples where the skin is smooth, bruise-free and the apple is fragrant as well as firm to the touch and heavy for their size. Avoid wrinkled, bruised, or soft apples. Brownish freckled areas do not affect flavour; however, smaller sizes are usually better than larger.
When cut open, an apple should contain brown (not pale) seeds and white flesh to indicate ripe fruit for most varieties.
Cooked, puréed apples can be frozen for longer storage.
Apples need to be kept in the cold to slow ripening as well as preserve crispness, nutrients, juicy texture, and full flavour. Store, unwashed, in a refrigerator or in another cold place (like your garage in the winter) for 6 weeks or longer in a perforated plastic bag. In fact, unbruised apples, properly handled and stored, can keep for up to three months.
Be sure to keep away from strong smelling foods such as cabbage or onions to prevent ‘flavour transfer‘ -apples have the ability to absorb unpleasant odours. Another reason is that as apples ripen, they give off ethylene gas, which shortens the storage life of some other vegetables – so keep them in their own compartment. For the same reason, you can actually use apples to ripen avocados and bananas more quickly. Just place a ripe apple in a bag with unripe bananas or avocados and they should soften within a day or two.
Room temperature Apples are most flavourful and ripen quickly at room temperature. If you plan to eat them within a day or two, they will be fine on the counter. Any longer and they tend to become overripe and mealy. Incidentally, apples will keep longer if they are not touching other apples: If you would like to attempt this challenge, one suggestion is to ‘string and tie’ each apple along the inside of an old nylon stocking.
When getting apples ready to serve, wash them individually in cool water or with a food-grade cleanser to remove any potential wax and residue from the peel.
An apple peeler works well for slicing, coring, and peeling the apple for pies or crisps.
To prevent browning When cut or peeled, apples oxidize and turn brown. Cooking apples stops the oxidation process entirely. To slow down the oxidation process when serving apples raw in dishes like salads, prepare just before serving.
- Dip or soak the apples in a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part lemon, orange or apple juice until ready to use.
- However, if soaked in lemon or orange juice, the flavour is changed to a tart or sweeter orange/apple taste.
- Using apple juice maintains a flavour more consistent with the flavour of the apple.
To freeze Slice and freeze apples in a single layer on a sheet tray, and transfer them to a bag for use in baking or sauces. Another method is to cook and puree before freezing. Golden Delicious and McIntosh do not hold up in the freezer, so it’s best to eat them in season.
|1 lb||4 small apples|
3 medium apples
2 large apples
|1 lb sliced||2 3/4 cups|
|1 lb diced||3 cups|
|1 cup grated||2 medium apples|
Apples can be eaten plain or they can be included in a variety of salads, meat dishes, and desserts.
Complimentary Seasonings and Additions
Apples blend well with the flavours of vanilla, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mace, cardamom and clove, and also rosemary, sage, honey and lemon. Apples also compliment pork, squash, bitter greens, and offset a range of cheeses.
The skin Apples help ward off cancer and keep us healthy all in its own easy-to-carry snack case. The skin itself offers protective powers. Since the skin packs an impressive punch of fibre and procyanidins that protect us from cancer, we should be eating at least one organic apple a day. With so many delicious choices, that should be easy!
Eat Raw Apples are the ideal fruit for eating out of hand or being tossed in salads.
Apple Pie Traditional baking apples are ones that tend to maintain their shape when cooked. Here are a few popular baking favourites: Golden Delicious and Jonagold, or for a tarter pie, try Granny Smith. Plan to use about 2 pounds of whole apples for a 9-inch pie.
Other Desserts Sauté with cinnamon as a dessert topping, or with pumpkin or other vegetables baked in delicious apple pie, crisp, tart, or a crumble. Baked whole and stuffed is another unforgettable experience. The more you think about it, the longer the list of wonderful apple desserts will become: cakes, muffins, and cobblers…. Most apples hold their shapes and flavours and can be used in baking, however the following come highly recommended: Granny Smith, Spartan, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Braeburn.
Apple Sauce Make your own fresh applesauce, it’s easy! It can even be used as an alternative to butter. In fact, apple butter and applesauce are simple and delicious ways to use overripe apples. Sauce apples are tart and sweet and have a loose structure that allows them to fall apart when cooked. Experiment to find your favourite saucing apple amongst the most popular varieties:
- Granny Smith – will make a great flavour
- MacIntosh – will make a pink applesauce if you leave the skins on.
Salads The crispness of apples provides bursts of sweetness lending interest to savoury salads and will continue being the crunchy texture to fruit salads. Golden delicious apples resist browning the longest, which make them a popular salad option.
Natural Sweetener Apple juice concentrate is an alternative to sugar in baking recipes. Moreover, raw apples sweeten smoothies naturally and in recipes calling for white wine, you can substitute apple juice. Try using apples to sweeten cooked cereals, such as oatmeal the natural way!
Dried Dried apple slices keep well, make a fine snack, and may also add delicious interest to baking.
The deeper the colour, the more antioxidants! However the skin of all apple varieties offer plenty of health benefits: some beta-carotene, promotes bone health with boron, fibre and antioxidants, is high in the flavanoid antioxidant quercetin that protects cell membranes including those of the brain, lung, and heart, may help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, asthma and other disease. The skins may even help inhibit LDL oxidation bad cholesterol. Another adage is “an apple skin a day may keep colon cancer away.”Apple, 1 medium (2 3/4-inch diameter [about 7cm]) (raw, with peel)
Total Fat: 0.5g
- In the past, an autumn ritual for singles was to tie an apple on a string and twirl it around above a hot fire. The person whose apple fell off first would be the next to marry.
- Another legendary belief was that if an apple is peeled in one long strip, and is thrown backwards over the left shoulder, it will land in the shape of the initial of the future wife or husband. A similar variation is to twist the apple’s stem. With each twist, a letter of the alphabet is called out until the stem breaks. The letter called out at that moment was considered to be the first initial of a future mate.
- Leave apple cores around where you’ve seen ants – they will take it back and eat it and it is said to kill them.
- On average, Europeans eat twice as many apples than North Americans: over one hundred thirty apples per capita each year, to North American’s mere sixty-five.
- The apple originated in Kazakhstan and is not native to North America.
- Floating in water comes easy to an apple because twenty-five percent of their volume is air.
- Contrary to common belief, it was not an apple that Eve offered Adam, but rather a pomegranate.
- Eating apples will please your dentist: biting, chewing stimulates the gums, and the apple’s sweetness promotes saliva, which reduces the level of bacteria, and hence tooth decay.
- Apples produce ethylene – a welcomed trait for ripening fruit such as plums, tomatoes. Simply put them together in a paper bag, placed in a dark cupboard. As a word of caution, keep apples away from leafy vegetables.
- It’s been said that if you put an apple with your potatoes, the potatoes will not bud as quickly.
- Increase the life of your baking by tossing a slice of apple in to the storage container. The moisture released by the apple will keep your cookies and breads moist and delicious.
- Apples soften 10 times faster at room temperature.
- With over 7,000 varieties of apples cultivated worldwide, it would take you more than 19 years to taste each apple once – now that’s variety!
- BC produces about 30% of the apples grown in Canada.
- British Columbians consume 25% of the apples grown in BC. That’s about 75 to 100 apples per person per year.
- The value of BC apples is about 80% of all BC tree fruit production.
- Apples are the hardiest and most widely cultivated of all tree fruits.
- This fruit tree is actually a member of the Rose Family.
- Golden Delicious is one of the most susceptible varieties to ‘russeting’ – a condition found on an apple’s surface that is slightly rough, usually with a greenish-brown to yellowish-brown colour. Cool, but not necessarily freezing weather and wet fruit, especially from pink-blossom stage until 3 weeks after petal fall may be the cause. Fortunately it does not reduce the usability of the apple’s flesh. At Ralph’s, any apples with small marks are considered #2 Apples.