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Feature Article From Harvest to Health
How to select, store, prepare and preserve a variety of farm-fresh produce

Banner for Harvest to Health: Apples, illustration of apple


Low calorie apples are a dieter's dream — a medium apple is only about 80 calories! Apples are also a good source of fiber, especially if you eat the peel, and they contain only a trace of sodium and fat.

Selecting Apples:

High quality apples are smooth-skinned, crisp, juicy and well-colored for their variety. Varieties of apples that are not solid red should have a yellow-green undertone, often called “ground color.” A ground color that is too green indicates a less sweet or underripe apple. Ground color that is too yellow identifies an apple that is overripe, soft and mealy textured. Avoid apples with bruises, soft spots or wrinkled skin.

Handle apples gently to avoid bruising them. Apples will remain crisp and juicy longer if refrigerated. Keep apples in plastic bags with small air holes to maintain a high moisture level and delay withering. Missouri fall apples maintain excellent quality longer than apples that have been in commercial storage.

The three major varieties available in Missouri from early to late fall are:

Available beginning in early September, crisp, juicy and tart Jonathans are the best all-purpose apple. Jonathans are superb eaten fresh or baked in pies and crisps. Be sure to freeze some for use throughout the winter. Jonathans also make a sweet and tangy applesauce or cider.

Red Delicious
Mellow sweet-flavored Red Delicious apples are tops for eating fresh and in salads. Choose other varieties for cooking and preserving.

Golden Delicious
Because they combine a mild, sweet flavor with spicy overtones, juicy Golden Delicious apples are favorites for eating fresh, cooking and preserving.

Many other apple varieties are available in Missouri including the slightly tart Winesap, another excellent all-purpose variety that keeps well. York and Rome Beauty apple varieties are prized as cooking apples. Rome Beauty apples are rated excellent for baking and drying. Ask your county Extension center for information on the use of other apple varieties.

Using and Preserving Apples:

Fresh Facts:

  • Apple arithmetic: One bushel of apples weighs 48 pounds and will make 32 pints to 40 pints of canned or frozen apple slices or 30 pints to 36 pints of applesauce.
  • Apples darken quickly when exposed to air. Powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) sprinkled on apples or mixed with canning syrup keeps them bright and fresh looking for recipes or preserving.
  • Quick-peel apples for cooking by dipping them quickly in and out of boiling water. The skin will come off much more readily.

Canned Facts:

  • Use high quality apples without any signs of decay for canning as slices, sauce and sweet spreads. Do not can “windfall apples” (fruit that has blown off the tree) because they are much more likely to contain mold spores, which can result in spoilage of the canned products.
  • Pickle apples as chutney to serve with meat.
  • Apple butter cooked down on top of the range requires constant stirring to prevent scorching. No time to stir? Pour apple pulp mixture into a large roasting pan and bake at 300 F in the oven, stirring only occasionally. The butter thickens as it bakes without scorching.
  • For safety and best quality, hot pack all home-canned apple products, including butter and chutney, and process in a boiling-water bath for the specified times. Open kettle canning of any product is not safe!

Freezer Facts:

  • For use in uncooked desserts and fruit cocktail, pack apples in syrup.
  • If apples are to be used in pies and cobblers, use a dry pack, sweetened or unsweetened.
  • A mixture of tart-and sweet-flavored apples are best for sauce. No sweetening is necessary.

Dried Facts:

  • The quality of dried apples is excellent. Firm-textured, tart apples like Jonathans or Rome Beauties are preferred.
  • Dry apple rings for a naturally sweet snack and for use in homemade granola.
  • Dried apple slices can be rehydrated for use in crisps, cobblers and pies.


Quick 'N Fresh Ideas

  • For a breakfast boost that's hard to beat: toss sliced apples, pineapple chunks and orange sections with a lemon-honey dressing. Complete the meal with peanut butter toast and a glass of milk.
  • Make an “appleshake” by blending apple slices with milk and vanilla ice cream. Watching calories? Substitute skim or 2 percent milk and iced milk.

Quick-Mix Applesauce Carrot Cake

Sift together:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1½ cups white flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir together and add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended:
3/4 cup homemade applesauce*
1/4 cup cooking oil
3 eggs, beaten slightly
3 cups coarsely grated carrots

Pour into a greased nine-inch tube pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F about one hour and ten minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into thickest part of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan five minutes on rack, then run knife around edge to loosen and turn onto wire rack to cool.

*Substitute commercially canned applesauce if you must


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Last update: Monday, September 14, 2015