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Autumn is for apples

Autumn is for apples

Several years ago I binged on apples. Briefly. I was visiting family in a well-known apple-growing region, in late September. The many local apple varieties were in their prime, particularly Cortlands. There was a large bag of Cortland apples in the refrigerator, so I helped myself. Wow! I hadn’t tasted such a wonderful apple for years. I couldn’t resist eating 3 or 4 more. Sadly Cortland apples aren’t widely available. I’m stuck picking from grocery store varieties, shipped long distances, so I haven’t binged on any apples since then.

When it comes to buying apples, I have my criteria:

  • in season
  • crispy
  • a bit tangy, not too sweet

In other words, not the frequently mushy, flavorless apples available all year long in grocery stores. They may look pretty, but they leave a lot to be desired in the flavor/texture department after apple season is long gone.

Nutritionally speaking, apples are not super-stars. They have small amounts of various vitamins and minerals, but aren’t known for high levels of any of them. What they do have is pectin, a unique fiber known to help with cholesterol levels. The antioxidant quercetin is especially concentrated in apple skin. A large apple might have 100 calories and close to 5 grams of fiber. It’s a convenient snack and a lot more filling than 100 calories of potato chips or ice cream.

Uses

Apples might be a fruit, but they go well with vegetables. I like to put apple slices in tossed salad or cole slaw. Thanks to the firm texture, they hold up, and the tangy sweetness adds zest to the vegetables. I always add them to turkey stuffing, and apple chunks can add a nice flavor and crunch to a grain salad or grain bowl. Try sautéed apple slices with a pinch of cinnamon, as a low sugar refreshing dessert (great way to use up older apples). Use a neutral flavored oil (you could use a bit of butter, for rich flavor). Put leftover apple slices in the fridge and add to your morning yogurt or oatmeal.

The problem with buying apples

Here’s the obvious problem: appearance tells you nothing about flavor and texture. And most grocery stores won’t appreciate a customer biting into an apple in the produce aisle before purchase. Buying in season (autumn) increases your changes of quality.