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The fruit of fall: Apples can be used to create many seasonal dishes

By ALETHEA PRICE

Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Fall is known for its abundance of versatile, fresh foods, and apples are among the most popular. Yes, there is so much more to love about fall than just football and pumpkin things.

You can prepare apples in many different ways and include them as ingredients in main courses, side dishes and desserts. This fruit can turn up the flavor at any meal from breakfast to dinner, including second breakfast, also known as snack time. You can have apple cider, apple butter, apple slices, apple pie, apple muffins, apple cake, apple crisp, apple sauce, spiced apples, baked apples, fried apples, caramel apples, candied apples … well you get the idea. Better not continue at the risk of sounding like Bubba Gump over here, but there really are a host of ways to use this fruit of the season.

Not only are apples great additions to any meal, but they are also packed full of nutrients. They are low in calories, fat and sodium. They are cholesterol free and a great source of fiber. Being high in fiber can help you feel fuller longer if you choose an apple as a healthy snack. It’s a great aid in weight management. Apples also contain phytochemicals that may help prevent many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, asthma and diabetes. Looks like an apple a day really could keep the doctor away.

The United States is home to more than 2,500 varieties of apples. Several of those are grown in Kentucky, including Red Delicious, Rome, Winesap, Gala, Jonathan, Cortland and Golden Delicious. You can get Kentucky-grown apples at orchards, farmers markets and some grocery stores across the state. Look for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s “Kentucky Proud” label when shopping.

Before you hit the store or farmer’s market to make your apple selection, think about what you’re going to use them for. Some apples are better for certain dishes. Golden Delicious apples are the “all-purpose” variety that do well in just about anything. Use them for baking with or without the peel, or raw on a salad or as a snack. Gala apples are great for everything but make especially good applesauce. Granny Smiths are very tart and flavorful, which holds up in whatever recipe you use them.

When selecting apples, look for firm, crisp and colorful fruit. Avoid apples with shriveled skins, bruises, worm holes or decayed spots. Apples last longer in your refrigerator, either in the crisper drawer or in an unsealed plastic bag. You can leave apples out on the counter for a few days, but an extensive period of time at room temperature will cause apples to shrivel and lose flavor and crispness. Store apples separately from vegetables, because apples naturally release small amounts of ethylene gas that can damage lettuce and other produce.

An easy way to store apple slices is to toss them in a little citric acid. If you don’t have any of the powdered kind, a little lemon juice or orange juice will work just fine. The citric acid helps to prevent the oxidation of the fruit so it doesn’t turn brown. Pack slices in snack-size plastic baggies ready to grab and go.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at a.price@uky.edu.

The sweet and crunchy coleslaw blends cabbage, carrot, apple, and green pepper for a colorful side dish. You can also try it without the mayonnaise.

Apple Coleslaw

Makes four servings

Ingredients

2 cups cabbage

1 carrot (medium, grated)

1⁄2 green pepper (chopped)

1 apple (chopped)

5 tablespoons yogurt, low-fat

1 tablespoon mayonnaise, low-fat

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1⁄4 teaspoon dill weed

Directions

1. Wash the cabbage; cut it into fine shreds, until you have 2 cups of cabbage.

2. Peel the carrot; grate it with a grater.

3. Chop half a green pepper into small pieces.

4. Remove the core and chop the apple.

5. Put the cabbage, carrot, green pepper and apple in a large mixing bowl; stir together.

6. Put the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and dill weed in a small bowl; stir together to make a dressing.

7. Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss to mix.