World Kitchen | Apples to Apples: Everything You Need to Know About Apples!
Small but mighty, no fruit is as popular in literature, film or pop culture than the mighty apple. Even our beloved tech gadgets don the fruit’s infamous round curves. But beyond its iconic imagery, the apple is a nutritional staple enjoyed by people around the world.
A tasty look back in time:
- Crab apples are the only apples native to North America.
- Apples grew for thousands of years in Asia and Europe but didn’t arrive in North America until the 1600s, when colonists brought them over from the Motherland.
- John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, single-handedly planted hundreds of thousands of seeds across the country.
- Brown in color and fuzzy in texture, the Roxbury Russet is the oldest apple variety in America.
- In ancient Greece, a man would propose marriage to a woman by tossing her an apple. If she caught it, it meant she accepted.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a popular adage with facts to back it up. The nutrient-packed fruit offers a bushel of benefits:
- An apple typically has only 50 to 80 calories, depending on its size.
- A super source of vitamins A and C, a medium-size apple has about 195 mg of potassium, which promotes heart health.
- Scientists at the University of Massachusetts found that brain function can be boosted from drinking just a couple glasses of apple juice.
- Packed with pectin, a soluble fiber, apples can help lower blood pressure and glucose levels.
- Always eat the peel—it provides more vitamins and antioxidants than the fruit’s flesh.
BEST CHOICES FOR BAKING
So, your recipe calls for “apples suitable for baking.” How do you choose with so many varieties? Your options can vary depending on the season and availability, but you can’t go wrong with these eight varieties:
Cortland Sweet, juicy, tender
Fuji Sweet, juicy, fairly crisp
Granny Smith Tart to sweet-tart, very crisp, holds shape when cooked
Ida Red Sweet, juicy, firm, holds shape when cooked
McIntosh Sweet, crisp when fresh, becomes mushy when cooked
Newtown Pippin Sweet-tart, crisp
Rhode Island Greening Very tart, distinctive flavor
Rome Beauty Mildly tart and tender
Baking tip: For a perfect apple pie, mix Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. When Granny Smith’s snappy texture is combined with the soft, flavor-packed McIntosh, you get a drool-worthy filling that is gooey but not mushy.
APPLE PICKING TIME
Of the 7,500 apple varieties grown today, only about 30 are available for purchase, but each is unique in shape, color and flavor. Whether you prefer sweet or tart, follow a few rules to pick the perfect apple:
- Always look for firm, blemish-free fruit.
- While colors vary by variety, the brighter the color, the better. Dull-colored fruit may not be as fresh.
- Follow the recipe; the apple that you love snacking on might not be the best in sauce or pie form.
- Explore the different flavors and textures by visiting an apple orchard. They offer samples of each variety grown at the orchard so you can find your favorite.
- If you aren’t going to eat your apples right away, keep them in the fridge, where they’ll stay good for up to two weeks.
- If you want to store your apples in a paper or plastic bag, prevent them from drying out by poking a few holes in it to let air circulate.
WEIGHTS & MEASURES
When you buy a pound of apples, how many apples are you getting? One pound of apples is equal to:
- 2 large
- 3 medium
- 4 to 5 small
- 3 cups peeled and sliced or chopped
While perfectly snackable right off the tree, apples require some preparation for cooking or baking:
- Wash well. Unless purchased from a local grower, the apples probably traveled a lot of miles and have been handled by many different people.
- Cut apples turn brown fast. You can easily prevent this from happening by rinsing them in a solution made of one part lemon juice to 10 parts water.
- Apple skin gets tough and dry when cooked, so peeling your apples makes for a better dish.
- Remove the skin without damaging the flesh by using a sharp, lightweight paring knife or peeler.
- Peeling large quantities of apples is done more easily with a hand-crank apple peeler.
- Quickly cut out the core and seeds in one swift movement with a simple apple corer.
BEYOND APPLE PIE
While arguably the most popular way to cook apples, pies aren’t the only delicious way to enjoy them:
- Paired with cheese, you can elevate the fruit’s flavor (try an aged cheddar with McIntosh and you might not ever reach for peanut butter again).
- Applesauce and apple butter are flavorful ways to use overripe fruit, as well as preserve the fruit for months.
- Chop and toss it in a salad for a surprising bite of sweet and tart.
- Try a classic Tuscan dish, pairing pork with baked apples.
- Cabbage braised with apples is a sweet and savory take on a classic side dish.
- When the temp soars, cool down with a simple apple-ginger sorbet.
BY THE NUMBERS
Apples are nutritious and taste great, but just how popular are they? Check out these stats:
- 19 pounds is the average amount of apples eaten by an American each year.
- 10 billion pounds of apples are harvested every year in the U.S.
- 30 to 40 apples are needed to make one gallon of apple cider.
- 36 million Americans say apples are their favorite pie filling.
Not just a healthy snack, apples can do more than fill your belly:
- Make apple art—slice an apple in half, dip it into shallow dish of paint and then stamp the apple on paper, cloth or the walls.
- Create a buffet for birds by coating an apple in peanut butter, then rolling it in birdseed.
- A fall favorite, bobbing for apples is fun for all ages. Fill a tub with water, drop in a half dozen apples and then sit back and laugh while your friends try to catch an apple with their teeth—no hands allowed!
DID YOU KNOW?
The most amazing apple facts:
- Apples can double as a toothbrush, cleaning teeth and killing bacteria in the mouth, which may reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- The apple tree is a member of the rose family.
- The largest apple on record was grown in Japan and weighed more than 4 pounds.
- An apple’s volume is 25 percent air.
- Left on its own, an apple tree can live more than 200 years.
If all this talk of apples is making your stomach growl, here are a handful of apple-icious recipes from some of our favorite food bloggers. Test them out and let us know what you think.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APPLE OR APPLE RECIPE? We’d like to know, so please share!