Know your apples
This article was originally published in October 2015
It’s hard to say goodbye to the luscious berries, cherries and peaches of summer, but true fruit-lovers take heart in one of the jewels of fall: the apple. Like the season itself, these fruits are crisp and colorful.
“The Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto — Apples,” estimates that 86 percent of the thousands of different apples that existed before 1900 have been lost. Only 11 varieties account for 90 percent of the apples sold in supermarkets today and 41 percent of those are Red Delicious. Here, we praise a sampling of our diverse selection at PCC, available at different times.
Sweet, with rich flavors of pear and spice. Braeburns hold up well in cooking — they’re good for apple cakes or savory dishes, such as pork stew.
A native Washington cultivar believed to be a cross between Red and Golden Delicious, Cameos are nutty with sweet undertones and a tender skin that snaps cleanly to the bite. Good for eating fresh, pies and baking. They resist browning when sliced, so they’re great for fresh salads.
“Explosively crisp” is the Honeycrisp’s moniker and it’s well-deserved. It’s an all-purpose apple with a sweet-tart bite that’s anything but subtle. It’s great eaten plain or as the star of any recipe.
Fujis contain higher sugar levels than most apples, making them one of the sweetest varieties. They are exceptionally crisp, with a sugary flavor that resembles that of freshly pressed apple juice. Fujis have a long shelf life — they can last between 5 to 6 months when kept refrigerated.
Crisp, mild and juicy with vanilla undertones, the Gala doesn’t turn brown as fast as other apples when cut — so it’s great for salads. Not as good for baking.
The Opal has firm flesh and a bright yellow color with a hint of orange and is sweet and tart — but in different ways than we’re used to. A crunchy bite begins with a warm, buttery sweetness, then finishes with a slightly tart tang that leaves your palate refreshed.
Pink Lady® (Cripps Pink)
These apples are left on the tree longer than any other variety, which allows them to develop their characteristic pink hue, crisp bite, and sweet/tart, champagne-like flavor. They resist browning, so they’re great in salads or sliced for snack.
A late-season apple, this cross between a Gala and Braeburn is crunchy and has a tangy-sweet zing. A late-summer apple.
A cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, Jonagolds work well with Granny Smiths in pie, thanks to sweet melon and honey notes and firm, juicy flesh.
A cross between a McIntosh and Golden Delicious, this crisp and juicy apple ripens early, in late summer. It has pale yellow or white skin, with bright red stripes fading to blush. Its crisp, juicy flesh and sweet, tart flavor make it excellent for snacking but it’s great in pies and desserts as well.
Apples like it cool and they ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than if refrigerated, so don’t store them on the kitchen counter. Store them someplace cool and dark, preferably in your fridge. The crisper drawer of the fridge will keep apples fresh quite a long time if the drawer contains some humidity.
An apple a day …
- Apples are full of many antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits. They’ve been associated with decreased risk of several common chronic diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Most of an apple’s antioxidants are found in its skin.
- Danish researchers discovered that apples can boost the health of your intestines as well as your immune system by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria.
- Eating apples can be beneficial for improving brain health and diminishing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Phytochemicals abundant in apple skins appear to kill or inhibit the growth of at least three different types of human cancer cells: colon, breast and liver. Apples also are associated with prevention of pancreatic, bowel and prostate cancer.