Autumn season cravings: What is your favorite apple?
The equinox is past. Autumn has begun. The long dark nights of winter are once again invading. In our region, autumn is apple season.
With about 700 apple orchards, New York state ranks second in the nation in apple production. Many apple varieties have New York names, because they began in New York — Cortland, Rome Beauty, Newtown Pippin, Empire, Seneca Favorite, Washington Strawberry, Geneva Pippin, Suffolk Beauty, and Long Island Russet.
I prefer our local apples — but worldwide, almost half the apples come from China, where apple pickers earn less than a dollar an hour. We have many apple orchards around us in the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. Bankers, Rulfs, Prairies come to mind, but there are others. It’s time to pick apples!
There is good reason for the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples store well, so before refrigeration they were one of few fruits available through the winter. They are rich in fiber and vitamin C, as well as small amounts of vitamin A, calcium and iron. One apple provides as much fiber as a bowl of bran cereal — about a fifth of your daily fiber needs.
And drinking apple cider can help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones.
That same apple a day can keep weight gain at bay. According to a Penn State University study, those who ate an apple before consuming a pasta meal ate less pasta than those who had a different snack.
Apples are great ‘as is’ — but they can also be baked or stewed. Pies, crisps, cobblers, cakes, muffins, breads all benefit from apples. They are good in savory dishes too, served with pork, made into applesauce, braised with meat and vegetables …
This time of year, I like my apples just the way they come. I just had a Cortland apple today. Wow! A fresh apple is so good. With over 10,000 apple varieties to choose from, what is your favorite apple? Honeycrisp? Gala? Rome? Pink Lady? Macuon? Yellow Delicious? MacIntosh?
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for one
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
or other sweetener, to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon chopped
nuts or raisins, optional
1 apple, peeled, cored and
Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until oats are cooked, about 5 minutes (this may depend on the type of oats you’re using). Serve with additional milk and sugar, if desired. Serves 1.
About 4 Tablespoons raisins
About 4 Tablespoons walnuts
1/4 cup apple cider
Microwave version — serves 1: Core the apple, keeping it whole. Do this with a sharp knife or apple corer, remove the seeds and inner core, leaving the apple shell intact.
Pack the center with raisins and walnuts.
Place in bowl. Add the apple cider. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Place in microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes.
Oven version — serves 6:
Or, place six apples on a baking sheet (you will need 1 cup each walnuts and raisins) and bake in preheated 400 degrees oven for 30 minutes, or until soft.
If you wish, you can drizzle a little maple syrup on top of the apples, or top each apple with a cube or two of sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
Baste occasionally with the juice on the bottom of the pan, to prevent from drying out. Or, cover loosely with a tent of foil to keep some of the moisture in.
Remove from oven; let cool about five minutes to prevent burning your tongue on the hot apples. Serve as a dessert or snack, with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. For an easier version, core and peel the apples and slice in chunks; mix in a casserole dish with raisins, craisins and nuts, drizzle with syrup and bake.
Lettuce and Apple sandwich
1 or 2 slices bacon
Few leaves lettuce or arugula
1 firm apple, cored and sliced thin
2 slices sourdough bread
Mayonnaise and mustard
In skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Add apple slices to bacon drippings and cook 1 minute.
Spread slices of bread with mustard. Add greens, then apples, then top with bacon. Top with the second slice of bread, if desired. Makes 2 open-faced sandwiches or one regular sandwich.
Option: Make a grilled cheese and apple sandwich; omit the bacon and cook as you would grilled cheese.
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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached by email at email@example.com. Twitter: @yvonawrites.