We’ve all heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and that’s just one reason to enjoy this delicious fruit. In early European times, the apple was a symbol of eternal youth and fertility. Nutritionally, apples are one of nature’s perfect foods. They are high in fiber and vitamin C and average only 95 calories per fruit. Apples have zero fats, cholesterol and sodium to go along with the good stuff, which makes them a favorite for kids’ lunches and a healthy office snack as well.
Apples also store well. In the old days, people stored their apples for up to three months in frostless cellars. Essentially, these were dirt rooms under houses that were not susceptible to freezing during the winter months. Apples also have a very high shelf life, lasting as long as one month in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator.
With so many varieties of the same fruit, it can become a bit overwhelming to decide what type of apple may be best suited for your needs. Here are some of my favorites that should be available at your local grocer.
Honey Crisp: Sweet and slightly tart, this apple is best for raw eating.
Red Delicious: Heart-shaped and mildly sweet, it is also great for making applesauce
Fuji: Crisp and sweet with a firm skin, raw Fujis work great in salads.
Gala: Pinkish orange in color with a sweet and aromatic flesh, Galas are great for baking.
Granny Smith: The iconic green apple, Australia’s largest export is perfect for apple tarts and cobblers.
Empire: This McIntosh-style apple with a sweet flesh works well for desserts.
Pink Lady: Very juicy with red and green striped skin, this apple is great for juicing and eating whole.
Here is a recipe I like to make, especially once the temperature outside begins to drop. You can enjoy it any time of the day — with your coffee for breakfast or with ice cream for dessert. Make sure you choose firm apples. If you use an apple other than Granny Smith, you may need to adjust the sugar ratio in the filling to balance out the flavor of whatever apple you choose. This recipe has a rather high sugar ratio to balance out the tartness of the Granny Smith apple.
10 Granny Smith apples
1 pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1¼ cup flour
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
1 cup oats
⅔ pound butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and slice apples. Mix together the rest of the filling ingredients — sugars, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon — and toss with apple slices. Pour into a 6-by-11-inch oven-safe glass dish.
Combine ingredients for the topping in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend on low with the paddle attachment until you get pebble-sized butter pieces. Sprinkle topping over apple slices and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the apples are soft and the crust is browned.
Granny Smith apples originated accidentally in 1868 in Australia after a chance seedling by a woman named Maria Ann Smith.
Dennis Clay is the executive chef at Inside Columbia’s Culinary Adventures. Learn more about Chef Clay and upcoming Culinary Adventures classes at www.CoMoCulinaryAdventures.com.