The origin of apples predates recorded history. Although there were probably native crab apple in the western world, apples as we know them were brought as seeds from Europe by the first colonists. Apples are in season all summer through fall. Summer apples have yellow skins and intense flavors that are more tart and savory than fall apples. October finds apples at their sweetest and best. There are hundreds of local varieties found in farmer’s markets that are not sold in supermarkets.
Peak Time: July – October
Average Price: $1.62/lb
Tips for Selection: Choose apples with unbroken and unbruised skin with no sign of mold or insect damage. However, brown flecks or spots on the skin are signs of weather exposure and do not indicate poor quality. Choose apples that have a good color for that variety, have a fresh, bright appearance and are firm to the touch. At a farmer’s market, finding fresh leaves from recent picking is also a great sign! The fragrance of an apple is also a good indicator of freshness and quality. Sort apples carefully before storage as one spoiled apple can cause rapid spoilage of the rest. Apples can be stored on the counter or in the refrigerator or other cool, dark spots for several days to a week. One pound of apples will yield approximately 3 cups of diced fruit.
Tips for Preparation: Apples should be washed or scrubbed with a soft brush before eating. That makes it possible to leave the peel on to preserve all the valuable dietary fiber and nutrients. Of course, they can be eaten out of hand, but also incorporated into many, many recipes as simple as pan roasted apples over whole grain pancakes.
Nutritional Highlights: Apples are a good source of Vitamin C and an excellent source of dietary fiber, especially pectin. They are also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols increase the good bacteria in our digestive system to produce even more phytonutrients that give us additional health benefits. Vitamin C, pectin and polyphenols all work separately to promote disease prevention. Research is showing how they work together in apples especially for heart health. Many of these phytonutrients are 3–4 times more concentrated in the peel. By eating both peel and pulp of apples, consumers can obtain up to 89% terms of total antioxidant capacity available from fresh apples. This is great news since apples are the “all American fruit”.
For a recipe for pan porkchops with apples, click here.
For a recipe for roasted butternut squash soup with apples and pepitas, click here.