In Season in Pennsylvania - Apples!
Posted: September 12, 2016
Soon in Pennsylvania we will start to feel the crisp autumn breezes. While out for an early morning walk this week, I saw a few red leaves on the maple trees in my neighborhood. That can only mean one thing, apple season is here! Pennsylvania is one of the top apple producing states in the U.S., this according to the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program. Each year, Pennsylvania apple growers produce approximately 440 million pounds of apples, making the state the fourth largest apple producer in the country. The group also states that while apples are grown in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the state’s top-producing counties are Adams, Franklin, Bedford, York, Berks, Lehigh, Lancaster, Snyder, Schuylkill, Cumberland, Erie, Lycoming, Centre, Columbia, and Chester.
Many varieties are grown in Pennsylvania. Some, such as Gala, McIntosh, Honeycrisp and Nittany, are good for a quick snack or packing in a school lunchbox. Varieties to consider when you are preparing baked apples are Cortland, York and Rome. Granny Smith apples make wonderful apple pie filling. Other apples great for pies include Ginger Gold and Fuji. You can also dice your favorite apple variety and add to salads and slaws, or slice an apple and add it to a sandwich.
There may be a good reason that people often say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples offer many health benefits. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that a medium apple, about the size of a tennis ball, counts as 1 cup in the MyPlate Fruit Group. For a 2,000-calorie diet, the daily recommendation is about 2 cups of fruit. One medium apple provides almost 20%, four grams, of the daily recommended amount of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber helps the body maintain regularity. In addition, one medium apple with the skin is only about 100 calories. Apples also contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances found in some foods that have been shown to prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Apples also contain potassium which can promote heart health. The USDA reports that in 2015 the average American consumer ate around 11 pounds of fresh apples a year!
After apples are harvested and cleaned, a wax made of natural ingredients is applied. When you are selecting apples, look for firm fruit with smooth clean skin. Apples will come in a range of colors. Test the firmness of the apple by holding it in the palm of your hand (do not push with your thumb). It should feel solid and heavy, not soft and light. Do not purchase apples that are soft or have dark spots. Wash apples when you are ready to eat them. To wash, rinse apples in cool water and pat dry with paper towel before eating. Apples should be stored in the refrigerator. Keeping apples at room temperature will allow them to get mushy more quickly.
Fresh apples are a great snack or dessert, eaten whole or sliced. Here are a few additional uses and tips for apples:
- Dip apple slices in peanut butter or serve with crackers and cheese for a quick and easy snack.
- Fresh apples make delicious baked fruit desserts, such as breads, muffins, cobblers, and crisps.
- Apples are delicious baked alongside pork or poultry or chopped into stuffing or sauces.
- To prevent sliced apples from browning, dip into a mix of 1 part lemon juice and 3 parts water.
So remember that Pennsylvania apples can be found in many varieties; they have a range of health benefits; and apples can be used in many different ways to add a tasty addition to meals and snacks. Apples are in-season now in Pennsylvania, why not try a new variety today!
Here is an easy, simple crisp recipe that features apple as the main ingredient.
– Makes 8 servings
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 4-5 medium apples, center removed, sliced
- ¼ cup quick-cooking oatmeal
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup brown sugar (or ½ cup regular sugar)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup margarine
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat the bottom and sides of a square 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Spread apple slices on the bottom of the pan.
- Cut the margarine into small pieces and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add the oatmeal, flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Use two knives to “chop” the margarine into the flour mixture until it looks like small crumbs. (Use two table knives in each hand. Pull the margarine through the flour mixture in opposite directions.)
- Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the apples.
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
One serving contains 170 calories, 6 grams of total fat, 30 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of fiber.