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It’s National Apple Month

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Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, it has now been expanded to the entire month. It’s a perfect month to enjoy all the flavors that the fall harvest has to offer and nothing says it better than crisp apples.
There are about 2,500 known varieties of apples grown in the United States, but only 15 varieties make up the majority of apple production. These include: Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Idared, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious and Rome. Do you have a favorite?
Ever wondered about which apple to use for which recipe or when apples are in season? Check the Apple Variety Guide from the U.S. Apple Association at http://usapple.org.
According to the U.S. Apple Association, research has verified that, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Recent studies have linked apples and apple products to helping with everything from weight loss to fighting different types of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even asthma.
Some of the most recent studies have linked apples with improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and possibly decreasing your risk for developing it, as well as improved immunity and gut health due to the pectin (soluble fiber) found in the apples peel.
Nutritionally apples are a good source of vitamin C. One small apple contains only 80 calories and they contain zero sodium, fat or cholesterol. Unpeeled apples have twice the fiber as, and are richer in antioxidants, than peeled apples. So keep that peel on.
When buying apples, choose firm, shiny, smooth-skinned apples with intact stems. They should smell fresh, not musty. If any apples must be stored, keep them in a cool, dark place. They should not be tightly covered or wrapped up. A perforated plastic or open paper bag, basket or wooden crates are good choices.
If kept in the refrigerator, apples should be placed in the humidifier compartment or in a plastic bag with several holes punched in it (or in a zipper-type vegetable bag). This prevents loss of moisture and crispness. Apples should not be placed close to foods with strong odors since the apples may pick up the odors. Apples are best when used within three weeks.
Apples are grown in every state in the continental United States. The top six apple states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia. Almost 65 percent of the U.S. apple crop is eaten as fresh fruit, while the rest is processed into apple products such as juice and cider, dried apples, frozen apples, canned products (like applesauce) and fresh slices. Apples are also made into baby food, apple butter or jelly and vinegar.
The average American eats an estimated 16.4 pounds of fresh apples and 33.3 pounds of processed apples every year. What do you think? Are you average?
Looking for a different way to eat apples? Here are some great ideas for adding apples to your lunch or dinner from the Michigan Apple Committee:
For a fruity slaw, mix a bag of prepared coleslaw mix with one large cored and finely diced apple, 1-2 teaspoon celery seed and 1/2 cup of a bottled low-fat coleslaw dressing.
Toss apple slices into a crunchy salad of mixed greens. Top with a low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
For a quick ginger-apple sauce for pork or chicken, combine one-cup apple cider with 1/2-cup chicken broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Combine four tablespoons cold water with one tablespoon of cornstarch. Slowly add the mixture to the broth, using a whisk. Cook for two more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, one-teaspoon butter and a 1/4-teaspoon of ground ginger.
For apple cheddar turkey panini, add thinly sliced apples (try Cortland, Gala, Jonagold or McIntosh) along with honey mustard, sliced turkey and sharp cheddar cheese on whole-grain bread. Grill on a panini press or a George Foreman grill.
Source: U.S. Apple Association usapple.org; Produce for Better Health www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org and the Michigan Apple Committee MichiganApples.com.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science staff member and can be reached at NC Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, at 253-2610.