Fall is apple season

Apples are among the world’s most popular fruits. Even though our area is not the main apple-growing region of the United States (that would be the Pacific Northwest), we are fortunate to have apple farms where the whole family can go to pick apples and taste the apple cider. Locally grown apples are also sold at area farmers’ markets. An increase in interest in heirloom apple varieties has made them easier to come by. If apples are less than perfect looking, it is actually a good thing; it could indicate that they have been grown without any sprays and chemicals. Finding a worm in them is a sure indicator as well. 

Heirloom Varieties 

Reintroducing heirloom apple varieties has been especially popular in the last few years. Because heritage apples are at risk of disappearing forever, farmers are reviving them, and customers are rediscovering these amazingly tasty old-fashioned apples. What they lack in appearance, they make up for in taste. Some ancient varieties have especially unique flavors, aromas, and dark-colored flesh. Different heirloom varieties ripen at different times of the year, so one could have different apples from mid-summer until late fall. They are once again being cultivated in urban green spaces and community and hobby gardens around the world by orchardists working to preserve them. 

Heirloom apples (Image by the author)

Already the Romans…

Apples were probably introduced to Western Europe during the expansion of the Roman Empire. Prior to that, they were cultivated for thousands of years in the area of ancient Babylon. 

Baking Apples

Some varieties are more suitable for cooking or baking than others. Some varieties are more tart or firm. The green Granny Smith is said to be the best variety for apple pies and apple strudel. Fuji apples are the sweetest variety. My favorite eating variety is the McIntosh apples, and my husband demands Honeycrisp. For decorating the holiday table or creating old fashion Christmas tree decorations, try red-fleshed apples called Lady Apples. At about the size of a ping pong ball, these are the cutest little apples! (not to be confused with crabapples, which are also small, but very tart!) Upper-end grocery stores in our region sometimes carry heirloom varieties. If you find them, give them a try. They are worth it. 

Lady apple (Image by the author)

Apple A Day  

It may be true after all that an apple a day (or two) keeps the doctor away. Apples contain malic and tartaric acids that cleanse the liver and gallbladder, the main detoxifying body organs. Apples are especially rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Apples contain pectin, a gel-like fiber that works like an intestinal broom. Pectin is a type of fiber that acts like a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria in our digestive tract.  Apples also contain polyphenols which are linked to lower blood pressure. 

Quick Apple Compote

Ingredients: 

6-8 apples (of a sweeter variety)

Vanilla sugar or pure vanilla

1 stick of cinnamon or ground cinnamon spice

5 whole cloves

5 cardamom seeds

5 star anise

Instructions:

  • Core and cut apples into quarters. For maximum vitamins, leave the skin on. (Make sure to purchase apples that were not waxed). 
  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush spices for better absorption 
  • Place apples and spice in a pot and cover with water
  • Simmer gently until apples are soft but not overcooked 

The apples will float on top, so gently stir them occasionally, so they cook evenly. 

Do not overcook. Compote can be eaten warm or cold. Keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. 

From this stage, the cooked apples can be turned into apple sauce by running them through a food mill. 

Apple compote can be served warm or cold. Its simple taste works well with any meat or grain dish. It can be eaten by itself as a satisfying, thirst-quenching snack.  

Disclaimer:

Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or to be a substitute for medical advice.

Sources:

http://www.americantable.org/2011/10/apples-in-america/

https://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/the_apple_in_north_america

Resources:

Apples of North America : exceptional varieties for gardeners, growers and cooks by Tom Burford

Book edition 2013, Hoopla eBook edition 2021

634.11 BURFORD

The big book of cidermaking : expert techniques for fermenting and flavoring your favorite hard cider by Christopher Shockey and Kirsten Shockey

Book and Hoopla eBook editions

663.29 SHOCKEY

Eating on the wild side : the missing link to optimum health by Jo Robinson

Book

641.302 ROBINSON

The fruit gardener’s bible by Lewis Hill and Leonard Perry

Book and Hoopla eBook editions

634 HILL

Magda Born

mborn@kckpl.org

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103