Cooking with Apples
- Tuesday, 06 October 2009
Tart or sweet, crispy or juicy, seasonal apples are ripe for the picking.
And with more than 2500 varieties of apples grown throughout the United States, there’s a flavor available to suit every palette this autumn. Of course, with such variety, why simply eat them plain when there are hundreds of options?
Selecting the Right Apple
When it comes to selection, it depends on whether you prefer a sweeter or tarter apple and whether your recipe calls for apples that are raw or cooked. As a guideline, Red and Golden Delicious apples are among the sweetest, while the Braeburn and Fuji are only slightly tart. The tartest apples are the Gravenstein, Pippin and Granny Smith. As versatile as apples are, some apples are better than others for specific uses.
The US Apple Association provides the following general guideline to recommended apple uses, based on industry consensus:
Reduce Your Chemical Exposure
Whenever possible, it is best to purchase organic fruit. All organic fruit will contain a federal certified organic food label. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, apples contain the second most chemicals in its ranking of the 12 most pesticide-containing fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, nonorganic apples are often waxed to prolong their freshness. If organic apples are not available, choose apples that have been locally grown and wash them in a solution of additive-free soap or commercial produce wash and rinse them under cool running water.
Good For You, Too
Apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, insoluble and soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and improve the intestinal muscle’s ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the apple’s nutrients are found in its skin, including important phytochemicals such as ellagic acid and flavonoids such as quercetin which has powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties.
For maximum nutritional value, apples should be eaten in their freshest form, whole, sliced or raw. Some of the nutrients are lost during the cooking process, so it is best to incorporate some raw apples in your overall diet in addition to your favorite poached, roasted or baked recipes.
Apples should be firm, crisp and well colored for enhanced flavour. Immature apples will have less color and flavor and taste overly tart. Conversely, overripe apples will feel softer when pressure is applied to the skin. Even if you are cooking with apples, try not to select overripe apples as you will lose some of the flavour. To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl of cold water with a spoonful of lemon juice added.
Here are some recipes for cooking with apples:
Apple and Quinoa Salad
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cinnamon Apples
Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Raw Apple & Fennel Slaw