This past month, I had the opportunity to travel to the western part of North Carolina and brought home some of the most delicious locally grown apples. They were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
With October being apple month, I wanted to take the time to share some healthy information along with some recipes for using these delicious fruits.
Apples truly are a “super fruit.” The health benefits of apples were first recorded as early as medieval times, giving rise to the modern day saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Recent studies have linked apples to helping with everything from weight loss to different types of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even asthma.
Apples have many health benefits. One medium apple has about 80 calories and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Apples are also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apples are quite versatile and can be enjoyed in a number of ways, including raw, cooked or juiced. Some apples are appropriate for preserving or freezing, but not all apples are good for this use. These are some methods and varieties that work well:
Applesauce: Select apples that are sweet, juicy, and crisp such as Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Ambrosia. For a tart flavor, add 1 to 2 pounds of tart apples, such as Granny Smith, McIntosh, Jonagold, or Winesap to every 3 pounds of sweeter fruit.
Apple jelly: Choose really sweet varieties such as Fuji, Gala or Ambrosia.
Apple jam: The best apples for jam will encompass a variety of flavors. Try mixing sweet and tart varieties such as Pink Lady and Granny Smith.
Apple butter: Because the cooking process is slow, select apples with a softer flesh such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn or McIntosh.
Apples for freezing: Select sweet varieties that are hardy with a strong texture such as Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Cortland or Empire.
Apples for baking: Granny Smith. These apples keep their firm texture well, and I do like their tartness when mixed with other varieties.
Golden Delicious: An under-appreciated apple, these are lovely mixed with Granny Smith.
Honeycrisp: These are a top pick for baking.
Gala, Fuji, Pink Ladies: Three other sweet-crisp apples that work nicely in baked apple recipes.
Try this delicious recipe if you love the taste of warm, baked apples:
Baked apple slices
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
• 4 medium apples a mix of tart (such as Granny Smith) and sweet-crisp (such as Honeycrisp), cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices (I leave the peels on)
• ¼ cup honey or pure maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a very large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, heat the butter in the microwave until it melts. If your bowl is not microwave safe, melt the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan on the stove, then pour it into the larger bowl.
To the mixing bowl, add the apple slices, honey, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and water. Stir to coat.
Pour the mixture into a deep 9×9 or similarly sized baking dish. Pour any liquid that has collected in the bottom of the bowl over the top.
Bake the apples for 25 minutes or until fork tender but not completely mushy.
Serve hot, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla Greek yogurt, as desired.
Additional recipes and information can be found on the website: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/apples
For more information, contact the Pasquotank Cooperative Extension Center at 338-3954. Visit Pasquotank Cooperative Extension on the web at https://pasquotank.ces.ncsu.edu, Like it on Facebook: Pasquotank County 4-H or follow it on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PasquotankCES.torials.
Ellen Owens is director of the Pasquotank Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension.