Apples, apples, apples everywhere!
Yes, apple harvesting and gleaning is encouraged, and, of course, I hope you join the fun activities at Homegrown Apple Days. My apple butter and apple sauce are just waiting to go into the pantry for winter. One bushel of apples weighs about 48 pounds and makes 32 pints to 40 pints of sliced apples or applesauce.
When sliced, apples darken quickly when exposed to air. To prevent the browning, dust them with powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or toss in a 50 percent-strength orange-juice solution.
As you pick your treasures, be extra careful to avoid bruising and damage. For apples to keep into the winter, they can’t be less than perfect. Once an apple is bruised or damaged, the ethylene gas released speeds ripening. Apples store well in the fridge or in a cool basement, and they can last for three to four months. The best storage temperature is 35 to 40 degrees.
There are many varieties of apples: tart, crisp, sweet. I am sure more varieties will appear in the future, too. The Jonathan is crisp and juicy and works well as an all-purpose apple for eating fresh or baking. Delicious (red or golden) apples work well for eating fresh or using in salads.
Last year, a study, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that eating more whole fruit might lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (also known as adult onset diabetes). This year for the first time in many, many years, the incidence has actually decreased. The research, which analyzed data from 180,000 people, found blueberries, grapes and apples were significantly associated with a lower risk for the disease. The operative words here, however, are whole fruit, including the skin when possible. Consuming more fruit juice actually raises the risk for diabetes, according to this study.
In September, the Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics examined antioxidant density of fresh fruit and common 100 percent fruit juices. The antioxidant density of apples, oranges and grapefruits were 23 to 54 percent greater than the antioxidant density of the comparable juice. Again, whole apples won out. Apples and grapefruits had significantly greater antioxidant density than their juice.
Another benefit researchers have identified, using laboratory animals, is the impact on bacteria in the gut. They found apple intake increased the amount of healthy bacteria in the large intestine. As a result, more fuel is made available to the large intestine after consuming the apple.
Cool weather, rutting bull elk, Halloween and caramel apples all conjure vivid images. I’ll limit my caramel apples to either Red Delicious or Granny Smith. They rated as 12th and 13th for antioxidant content among 1,000 items tested by the USDA.
Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds that help prevent and repair oxidation damage, which occurs during normal cell activity. The apples also contain pectin (fiber) that helps solidify jams and preserves.
How can it be wrong – such a healthy option with just a drizzle of caramel and then rolled in nuts. Almost the picture of health.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.