Fall is fast approaching and that means apple season is upon us. Whether you pick your own or buy them from your local orchard or farm stand, fresh, locally produced apples are at their best during autumn months. Though the mellow, sweet, uniformly-colored Red Delicious is the most apple common variety purchased in grocery stores, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of apples grown throughout North America. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular varieties:
- Braeburn — A medium to large, red striped fruit with an orange-red blush on a yellow background. Pale, cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy with a pleasant tart flavor. Harvested in November.
- Cortland — McIntosh-style apple with a red blush over a yellow background. Very white crisp flesh. Best eaten shortly after picking. Good in salads. Harvested during September.
- Fuji — A tall, rectangular, medium-sized fruit with yellowish green skin with an orange-red blush and darker stripes. Crisp, juicy white flesh has a firm texture. Stores well. Harvested during late October.
- Gala — A medium-size fruit with yellow skin patterned with bright orange-red. Yellow-white flesh is firm and juicy with a nice texture and a sweet, slightly tart, flavor. Best eaten fresh. Harvested during October.
- Golden Delicious — A large golden yellow fruit. Firm, crisp, juicy flesh has a mild, sweet flavor. A popular all-purpose apple. Doesn’t store well. Harvested during mid-September to late October.
- Granny Smith — A large, bold green apple with crisp, very tart flesh. Keeps very well. Harvested during late October.
- Honeycrisp — Red patched mottled over a yellow-green background. Flesh is crisp with a tart, yet sweet, flavor. Keeps well. Harvested during mid-September to October.
- Macoun — Similar in size and shape to a McIntosh, but with a darker purplish-red blush over green background. Flesh is firm and aromatic for a good all-purpose apple. Harvested during early to mid-October.
- McIntosh — One of the most popular apple varieties, with a deep red color over a green background. The flesh is white, firm, tender, and very juicy, with a mildly tart flavor. Harvested during September.
- Pink Lady — An oblong yellow variety overlaid with pink or light red. Flesh is white with a sweet-tart flavor. Stores well. Harvested during September and October
- Red Delicious — Most common apple variety in the United States. A mild, sweet apple with a thick, deep red skin. Harvested during late September
No matter what kind you choose, apples are one of the healthiest and most delicious snacks around. Eat them on their own, dip them in peanut butter or chocolate, pair them with a sharp cheese, or slice them up into a salad. Though apples most often play a starring role in decadent desserts — pies, cakes, crumbles, doughnuts, strudels, dumplings, etc. — don’t make the mistake of typecasting them. These sweet treats are versatile enough to carry your main course. Here are a few recipes to get you started:
4 1/2 cups cored, peeled and diced tart apples
3 cups seedless cucumber, diced
2 cups red onions, diced
2/3 cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
10 large eggs, beaten
5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups thick and chunky salsa, sieved
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray-coat a 12 x 20 baking pan. In a large bowl, combine apples, cucumbers, red onions, peppers, and parsley. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, 2 cups of cheddar cheese, lime juice, oil, salsa, salt, and pepper. Stir the egg mixture into the apple mixture. Pour mixture into prepared pan and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes until the eggs set and the cheese is golden brown. Cool before. Serves up to four.
Apple Grilled Cheese
4 slices whole-grain bread
1/8 cup low-fat honey mustard
1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
4 oz. low-fat cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Lightly spread honey mustard evenly over each slice of bread. Layer apple slices and cheese over two slices of bread, using about half an apple and an ounce of cheese for each sandwich. Top both with remaining bread slices. Lightly coat the outward facing sides of the bread with butter. Grill each sandwich for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until cheese has melted and bread has toasted. Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Fennel Apple Soup
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
6 black peppercorns
Plain low-fat yogurt
In a large pot, combine broth, water, wine, apples, carrots, onion, fennel, bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Strain soup, setting aside the liquid. Remove the bay leaf from the apple-vegetable mixture. In a blender or food processor, puree mixture; pour in the liquid and blend well. Reheat if necessary. Top with a dollop of yogurt.