October is National Apple Month. This year’s apple crop is a bumper one. Even apple trees in our neighbors’ back yards are loaded with apples. With the abundance of apples, it’s important to store them properly for the best flavor and firmness. There is nothing like the first bite into a juicy apple. But we need to handle apples properly so they don’t brown and mold.
Apples are low in calories, low in fat and high in fiber. They may help lower your risk of heart disease when made part of a heart‐healthy diet and lifestyle plan. One medium apple has 19 grams of carbohydrates which is almost one and one-half carb exchange.
Apples are a good source of soluble fiber, now known as “functional fiber,” which helps keep cholesterol low. They also have beneficial plant chemicals that act as antioxidants.
For best flavor, choose apples that are firm, without soft or bruised spots or wrinkled skin, and have a pleasant smell. To keep apples flavorful and for a long period of time, here are tips to store apples from the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program. First, refrigerate apples. Refrigeration slows the ripening process of apples and maintains their flavor.
A temperature of 34° F is ideal. Refrigerating apples can help them last up to 10 times longer – typically from four to six weeks. It’s important to store apples away from strong-smelling foods like onions to prevent them from absorbing unpleasant odors.
Thousands of varieties of apples come in all shades of reds, greens and yellows. Each has its own unique taste. A few of the best apples to bake with are Ginger Gold, Cortland, Rome, Fuji and Granny Smith.
To bake an apple, first decide if it’s for dessert or a side dish for dinner. Desserts are typically sweeter; however, when you bake them yourself, you can determine how sweet you want them by reducing or adding to the sugar.
These two recipes use the microwave, but can be made in the oven, as well. If you’re using the oven, plan to bake apples for dessert when you are having an oven-baked casserole. Enjoy!
2 acorn squash (rinsed)
1 tablespoon butter (or margarine)
1 apple (chopped with skins on)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Rinse and cut squash into halves and remove seeds. Place in a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Melt butter in a separate bowl in the microwave. Mix in apples, sugar and cinnamon. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Spoon apple filling into each squash half. Cover and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until squash and apples are tender. Serve warm.
Microwave baked apples
1 apple (medium, cored not cut into pieces)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon butter alternative spread (0 trans-fat, or butter)
Place apple on plate with opening facing up (cored apples should have bottom intact). Stir sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a separate cup and sprinkle into and onto apple. Sprinkle raisins on and around apple.
Drop butter alternative spread onto apple and cover with plastic wrap or wax paper. Microwave on high for 2 1/2-3 minutes.
Let sit outside of microwave for at least 30 seconds before eating. It will be hot.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at email@example.com.