A medium size apple, about 2 to 2 1⁄2 inches round, has about 75 calories and provides soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber helps prevent the build-up of cholesterol in the walls of arteries. The insoluble fiber helps our bodies digest food and prevents certain cancers associated with the digestive system. It is a good idea to eat the skin of the apple. Not only does this provide fiber, but almost half of the vitamin C content of the apple is found just under the skin. The apple is low in sodium and high in potassium, making it a great natural snack.
More than 2500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States. Several of these varieties are grown in Kentucky, including Red Delicious, Rome, Winesap, Gala, Jonathan, Cortland, and Golden Delicious. Some varieties, such as the Golden Delicious and Jonathan, are all purpose apples that are good for eating raw, cooking or baking. Others such as the Red Delicious and Winesap are good for eating, but become mushy when cooked or baked.
When selecting apples, choose apples that are firm with no soft spots. Avoid discolored apples and apples with shriveled skins, bruises, worm holes, and decayed spots. Always handle them gently to avoid causing bruises, blemishes, and other defects. Keep apples in plastic bags in the refrigerator after purchasing to prevent further ripening. Apples should keep up to six weeks. However, check apples often and remove any that begin to decay. It is true that one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch! Always wash apples well and rinse with water before use.
You may have noticed that apples start to turn dark when they are sliced open. This process is called enzymatic browning. This browning can cause the loss of vitamin C. Protect cut apples from this oxidation by dipping them in a solution of two tablespoons lemon juice in two quarts of water, and three parts water, or 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid with 3 tablespoons water.
Some little known facts about apples:
The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
Two pounds of apples make one nine-inch pie.
Apples are grown in all 50 states.
The science of apple growing is known as pomology.
Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
Apples were a favorite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Apples are a member of the rose family.
The largest apple ever picked weighed three pounds.
It takes the energy of 50 leaves to produce one apple.
In 2005, United States consumers each ate an average of 46.1 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products. That’s a lot of applesauce!
As you can see, apples are a natural, nutritious gift, and even the wrapping is edible. It is portable and delicious eaten raw as well as a great choice for cooking. Make them a regular part of your diet and see what happens!
Take advantage of the accessibility and availability of fresh apples before the growing season ends by trying one of the recipes at the end of this column.
For more information contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.
Information for the article was obtained from the University of Kentucky Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud web site and the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service web site.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
4 cups sliced apples
1⁄4 cup apple juice
3⁄4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Place sliced apples in a lightly greased pie pan. Pour juice over apples. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter or margarine with two knives until mixture is crumbly. Pour crumb mixture over apples. Bake at 375 ̊F for 45 minutes or until apples are tender.
Yield: 8 (6-ounce) servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 220 calories; 2.5 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 35 mg sodium; 52 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein
Source: University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
Apple Cheese Topping
8 ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium-size peeled cored Granny Smith apple
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, basil or oregano
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and lemon juice. Grate apple directly into cheese mixture. Sprinkle with black pepper and dried herb. Cover bowl and chill approximately 1 hour. Use this spread on bagels, toast, crackers or apple slices.
Yield: 2 1⁄2 cups or 20 (2 tablespoon) servings
Source: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service
Baked Apples and Sweet Potatoes
5 medium sweet potatoes
4 medium apples
1⁄2 cup margarine
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons honey
Boil potatoes in 2 inches of water until almost tender. Cool, peel, and slice into 1⁄2-inch slices. Peel, core, and slice apples into 1⁄2 inch slices. Preheat oven to 400 ̊F. Grease a casserole dish with a small amount of margarine. Layer potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of apple slices. Sprinkle some sugar, salt, and tiny pieces of margarine over the apple layer. Repeat layers of potatoes, apples, sugar, salt, and margarine. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Mix the hot water and honey together. Pour over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 (1 cup) servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 300 calories; 8 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 320 mg sodium; 59 g carbohydrate
Source: Plate it Up! Kentucky Proud Project
Apple Chicken Salad
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple jelly, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
2 cups finely sliced celery
3 apples, unpeeled and diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
In a large bowl, mix yogurt, orange juice, melted apple jelly and lemon juice. Add chicken, celery and apples. Toss gently to coat all pieces. Season with salt and chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle with pecans and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Yield: 8 (3/4 cup) servings
Source: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service