Falling For Apples

By: Julie Barnes

Crisp autumn is the season for apples, an irresistibly crunchy fruit in assorted shades of red, yellow, or green. For the best apple experience, explore farm markets for diverse varieties and their uses. Let's say, Cameo, Honey Crisp, Fuji, and Red Delicious are perfect for eating. The desirable textures of Lodi, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Jonathan or Cortland make them great for either cooking or baking. And, the firmness of Gala or Empire works well in salads. Numerous health benefits are derived from this nutritious fruit. Flavors range from sweet, tart, tangy or sour, to satisfy lots of tastes. In the United States alone there are as many as 2500 varieties being grown. So, there is bound to be something to please everyone. Throughout apple history, there are also certain phrases or conceptions that have made an impression upon us. Let's take a look at a few.

The phrase, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," has real meaning as the various benefits of apples are realized. Apples contain natural fruit sugars in the form of fructose. This energy boosting, portable snack is just 80 calories being sodium, fat, and cholesterol free. Furthermore, apples are a great source of the fiber pectin providing as much dietary fiber as a serving of bran cereal. If possible, when eating, it is best not to peel an apple's skin which provides a two thirds benefit of fiber along with many antioxidants. High fiber content maintains blood sugar levels by naturally slowing down sugar release and antioxidants can reduce cell damage responsible for some diseases. Additionally, apples contain the bone strengthening mineral boron that may support conditions such as osteoporosis.

"One bad apple spoils the whole bunch," is another valid expression. The fact is an apple produces a natural hormone called ethylene as it ripens. Once it becomes damaged or diseased, it will produce elevated ethylene levels. This will cause surrounding apples to ripen very quickly so they become susceptible to disease too. Keep this in mind when storing apples to avoid damage to fruits, vegetables, or flowers that are particularly sensitive to ethylene as well.

We are all quite familiar with the apple polishing custom of giving a gift of a bright shiny apple to a teacher. Well, an apple picked from a tree and then rubbed on your clothing will shine because it is coated with a natural wax that preserves moisture as well as crispness. Without that an apple would become soft and dry. Aren't you amazed at how extraordinarily polished and shiny apples seem to be in a supermarket? Before being shipped, apples are washed and brushed to remove leaves and dirt. This eliminates the original wax coating. Therefore, to protect the apples, each one is dipped in a commercial wax made from natural ingredients approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. This can be removed with a vegetable brush in lukewarm water.

So, to my core I hope you learned more.