No one would know by the temperature outside and the three hurricanes we have had that it is really fall!
When I think of fall, I remember the wonderful, crisp apples that I ate as a kid. I guess that statement is not true, as I still enjoy them and I am far from being a child!
Then, apples were just apples, most were red and a couple of varieties were green. Today, the supermarkets and fruit stands are full of multiple types that vary in color, shapes, textures and flavors. Most varieties are labeled by their flavor, as well as their purpose of use.
Today, we will discuss the various types and what you should consider when purchasing them. As you all know, apples are one of the most nutritional foods available. They contain vitamins and high fiber which is very essential to our digestive system. The great thing about apples is that the taste is great and the fact that they can be eaten about anywhere.
The most well known and most popular apples are red and yellow delicious. They are easily recognizable by their rich colors. The red ones have a distinctive shape with protruding bumps on the bottom. Red delicious is one of the largest apples and is a sweeter apple with a mild taste and is considered a multiple purpose apple, best for “just eating raw.” Golden delicious are more round in shape and do not have the bumps on the bottom. They are best for eating and cooking. The skin is very smooth and is most often covered with brown specks and has a soft and grainy texture. They are personally my least favorite type.
“TART AND CRISP”
If you enjoy a tart and crisp apple with a firm texture, then you should look for a Jonathan, McIntosh or Braburn variety.
The first two have been around for years and one of the first to hit the market in early fall. I love the tart and “spicy” taste that these three apples offer. They almost pop when you bite into them. The Braburn variety is fairly new to the market and are larger than the other two and have a red and green appearance. They are one of the few assortments that are available almost year round. These three types also keep in the refrigerator for a long period of time.
My favorite of all apples are “Honey Crisp” and “Pink Lady” but they are also two of the most expensive. Unfortunately they are only available in the fall.
Honey crisp apples are not only great “eating” apples but make wonderful pies, apple crisps and baked apples. They are also make great caramel and candied apples. My personal favorite use for these crisp apples is Waldorf salad which was named this because of it being a favorite on the menu at the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. (See my recipe below.)
Another great way to enjoy these spicy apples is to core and slice them so they can be dipped in one of the many caramel dips available in supermarket (in the fruit section). It is a great way to get kids to eat this nutritious fruit and is also available in a “fat free” type as well.
Granny Smith apples are one of only two varieties that are all green in color. They not only provide an apple with lots of tangy flavor which makes for a good “raw” apple, but they cook very well and don’t completely lose their shape. They are also good if you stew or fry them. They usually come in two sizes and are very firm in texture.
“THEY ARE ALMOST TRANSPARENT”
At home, my mother used to make her own applesauce from “transparent” apples. They were not really transparent in color but rather very small and green. They were not tart, they were actually sour! Give me one of these green beauties along with a salt shaker and I was ready for a “puckering” treat.
The name for this apple was derived because, when cooked, they faded to a very light almost transparent color. By adding water and sugar (to your taste) they cooked up very quickly (almost dissolving) to a perfect applesauce texture. If you wanted a smooth applesauce texture you run them (after cooking) through a colander. Applesauce can be canned but the easier method of preserving was by freezing the finished product.
When I was a young housewife, I looked forward to hitting the nearest fruit stand and buying a whole bushel (usually found in late August or the month of September) to make my family’s favorite applesauce. I would spend hours peeling, cooking and freezing enough applesauce to last my family almost all winter. There is absolutely nothing that tasted like fresh or frozen homemade applesauce. I have found it almost impossible to find transparent apples today but would give anything for a bowl of this delectable fruit sauce (served warm is best) with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
If any of you readers know where I can purchase transparent apples, please let me know (via my email address).
“AN ARRAY OF OTHER APPLES”
I am sure all of you have your favorite red, yellow or green fruit. A few that you can choose from are Rome, Gala and Jonathan Gold.
Most apples are grown in areas where the climate is cooler and an area where they have a good deal of rain. Apples are harvested from an orchard, sorted by size and then shipped to the supermarkets. Most of them are then coated with a wax to make them have a shiny, fresh appearance on the shelves.
The wax used can be a problem for many individuals as it contains a preservative type chemical that can cause stomach distress. I personally have this problem and sometimes only eat an apple that has been peeled to prevent this effect. The problem then is that I have lost the fiber that they contain as well as many of the vitamins.
The best thing to remember is to always wash them good before using. There is also a product in the fruit section of your store that can be sprayed on the fruit and will remove this coating with a simple spray.
Today I am giving you two quick recipes for all of you apple lovers.
EASY BAKED APPLES
A wonderful baked apple that can be made with Splenda Brown Sugar to decrease calories and allow diabetics to enjoy a nutritious dessert.
Wash and dry a small to medium sized tart baking apple like Jonathan, Honey Crisp or Braburn. Using an apple corer, core apples and place them in a well buttered glass pie plate. (If you do not have an apple corer, you can use a sharp peeling knife and carefully remove the core from the center of the apple.) NOTE: Be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom of the apple in order to make a hole that will work as a small bowl to hold in the stuffing.
Make stuffing and pack into the bottom bowl of the cored apple. (Pack tightly). Place in buttered baking dish and sprinkle brown sugar stuffing over the top of the apples. Bake in microwave oven for 6-8 minutes depending on the size and type of microwave. I suggest you check after 6 minutes and cook longer if needed. The apple should be done but still somewhat firm. Cool for a few minutes before serving with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream (if you are not watching your middle!)
STUFFING: (enough 4 apples) Mix together ½ cup dark brown sugar (or Splenda Brown Sugar), ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add ¼ cup chopped nuts. Cream together until well blended. Stir in nuts.
Many of you know this as apple salad but the fancy name is Waldorf Salad and that is what my mother called it. This was a fall staple on our dinner table when I was growing up.
5-6 Medium apples (tart crisp apple works best)
¾ cup diced celery
1 cup seedless red grapes (or green)
½ – ¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries.
Wash and cut apples in bite sized pieces removing the seeds and core. Place in a bowl with ice water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice for 15 minutes as this will help them to not turn brown. (They can be peeled if you desire). Drain them and place apples in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Prepare Mayonnaise dressing and pour over apples to form a consistency of macaroni salad. Remember that the dressing will soak into the apples so don’t be afraid of getting too much dressing. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
1 cup Mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
1 ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar (to taste)*
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ – ¾ cup sugar (depending on your taste)*
1 tablespoon half and half or cream
Stir all ingredients (except cream/milk) together. Gradually stir in cream until you have a ranch dressing constancy. This dressing will change appearance due to the sugar, almost like a celery seed dressing. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over apple salad. Add more as needed. Chill
* I personally prefer the flavor of this dressing to be a sweet/tart flavor. Almost spicy with vinegar but yet sweet.
Have an apple-licous week! — Sheryl
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column Welcome to My Kitchen out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.