October is National Apple Month
Fall is a great time to buy apples. This tree fruit is not only a good source of fiber, but also high in potassium and vitamin C. Additionally, apples are naturally fat- and sodium-free. One 2.5” apple only has 81 calories. All these are good reasons to add apples to our diet. So let’s start with picking the right apples.
When you buy apples, choose firm, smooth-skinned ones with intact stems. They should smell fresh, not musty. If you can dent an apple with your finger, it is too soft.
Make sure to store apples in a dry, cool place. You can also put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Make several holes in the bag for ventilation. Also keep in mind that apples will pick up the flavors of other foods, so keep them separate from strong flavored foods. Since apples produce ethylene which may cause other fruits to prematurely ripen, store them away from other fruits. Apples should be used within three weeks.
Before you eat or cook your apples, make sure to wash them, even if you plan to remove the peel. When it comes to cooking, apples are very versatile. Here are a few cooking suggestions:
Applesauce. Place peeled, sliced,and cored apples in a microwave or pan with one-quarter inch water. Allow apples to steam until soft and add water if needed. Remove from heat, mash apples to desired consistency and add seasonings such as cinnamon, nutmeg or sugar. Eat warm or allow to cool.
Bake. Select larger apples and remove core with knife, leaving half-inch of the apple core at the bottom. Put a small amount of seasoning in the hole such as cinnamon, clove, ginger or nutmeg. Place apples in a baking pan and add 3/4cup water to the pan. Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until desired tenderness.
Grill. Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/4cuplemonjuice in a large bowl and place sliced apples in mixture. Place soaked apple slices on skewers and grill about seven minutes on each side. Once grilled, remove from heat and add seasoning such as cinnamon, clove, ginger or nutmeg. For added variety and texture, add apples to a grilled kabob.
Raw. Rinse and dry an apple to enjoy as is, or slice and dip in peanut butter or yogurt. Dip apple slices in lemon juice to prevent browning.