An Apple a Day
Ah, the quintessential autumn fruit - an apple in your lunchbox, the smell of apple pie on a fall day, or a jar of homemade applesauce. Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories, a natural breath freshener, and inexpensive. Today there are more than 450 apple growers in the state of California. California currently ranks as the country’s fourth highest apple producing state.
There are many varieties of apples available. Except for crabapples, they are all-purpose varieties, meaning they can be eaten fresh or cooked into pies, cakes, applesauce, or baked whole. However, some varieties are better than others for different purposes. Thick-skinned apples, because they hold their shape, tend to be good for baking whole. Try Rome Beauty, Braeburn, or Gala. Generally, Juicy apples with a good balance of sweetness and tartness are good for pies, cakes, and applesauce. If making a pie, make sure the apples have a firm texture that will hold up well during cooking.
- An apple in your brown sugar container will help keep the sugar moist.
- An apple in your cookie jar will help to keep the cookies moist.
- Add lemon juice to an apple recipe if the apples you are using lack tartness or flavor.
- Keep apples under refrigeration in the hydrator drawer, at temperatures anywhere from 32 to 40 degrees.
- Refrigerating apples helps to preserve the pectin, which gives the apple its firm flesh and vitamin content.
- When keeping apples under refrigeration, it is best to store them in perforated plastic bags to prevent them from drying out.
- Apples stored in plastic bags without holes must be opened once a week or so to release some of the gases and carbon dioxide.
- When cooking with apples, it's handy to know that 1 pound of apples yields 4 cups when chopped or sliced (and 1-1/2 cups of apple sauce).
- Apple juice and cider can be used interchangeably in recipes.
- Sliced or cut apples will stay whiter longer if dropped in a bowl of water containing 2 tablespoons lemon juice.