OCTOBER & APPLE HARVEST TIME
Supermarket produce bins are filled with many different kinds of apples, and at such good prices–but if you live in an area where apples are grown, or can get to a Farmer’s Market–you may find even better prices. One year when my brother Bill was visiting me, we went to Oak Glen and were able to buy a big box of different kinds of apples for about ten dollars. It was late in the season and the apple grower was happy to get rid of some that were a little past prime – but I had apple sauce in mind and didn’t care. Not very long after that, Bob & I bought an apple tree of our own and for the past decade, it produced all the apples we could use. I still have many quarts of applesauce in our jelly cupboard from our crop last year. These weren’t Granny Smith apples, but a close cousin–a green skinned tart apple, idea for apple sauce and pies with the name of “Beverly Hills.” Living in the San Fernando Valley, I knew we needed an apple tree that didn’t require a frost. Now, living in the high desert, we’ll have frost–and snow–so more apple varieties are available to us. We bought several fruit trees from a nearby nursery last spring.
Did you know that the saying “As American as apple pie” is referred to as the symbol of America? The word “apple” itself comes from the Old English word “aeppel.” and there are approximately 10,000 different kinds of varieties of apples grown in the world with more than 7,000 of these varieties grown in the United States. Apples are a member of the rose family of plants and the blossoms are much like wild-rose blossoms. I can attest that the pink/white blossoms in the spring are beautiful and aromatic. When the English pioneers first arrived in North America they found only crab apples–the only apple native to the United States. European settlers arrived and brought with them their English customs and favorite fruits. In colonial time, apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth. An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a very old English saying; ownership to the saying has been long forgotten.. Today, the expression still rings true, as our knowledge of apples’ many health benefits increases.
One of the most interesting facts I was able to uncover is that most historians fail to mention that those early orchards in the New World produced very few apples because there were no honey bees. Historical records indicate that colonies of honey bees were shipped from England and landed in Virginia early in 1622. One or more shipments were made to Massachusetts between 1630 and 1633, others probably between 1633 and 1638. The Indians called the honeybees “English flies” and/or “white man’s flies.”
One of America’s favorite legends is that of Johnny Appleseed, a folk hero and pioneer apple farmer in the 1800s. There really was a Johnny Appleseed whose real name was John Chapmen; he was born in Massachusetts. Appleseed’s dream was for the land to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Most historians today consider him to have been eccentric but very smart businessman, who traveled about the new territories of his time, leasing land and developing nurseries of apple trees. It is estimated that he traveled 10,000 square miles of frontier country. He collected apple seeds from cider mills, dried them, put them up in little bags, and gave them to everyone he met who was headed West. For forty years he traveled through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa (planting seeds every place he considered to be likely spots). He did more than just plant apple seeds. He began nurseries to take care of the apple orchards as well as other fruit, vegetable, and herb plants. He walked alone in the wilderness, without gun or knife. He chopped down no trees and killed no animals. Appleseed believed that God wanted him to go around and read his Bible to people and plant apple trees. He was respected and appreciated by the Native American tribes and the new settlers alike. For the rest of his life, he traveled alone and denied himself the companionship of a wife.
Apples are the most varied food on the planet, with more apple varieties on record than for any other food. The list of apple varieties topped 7,500 the last time someone counted, including more than 2,500 varieties grown here in the United States. Each apple variety has its own unique flavor, and best uses.
Previously I mentioned making apple sauce – which I consider to be the easiest food of all to can and we sometimes got at least 30 quarts of applesauce from our one tree. However some of the apples went into desserts and I have gone through some of my files searching for favorite recipes.
First, here is a recipe for Spiced Baked Apples (low in calories, high in fiber!)
To make SPICED BAKED APPLES, you will need:
2 TBSP dark brown sugar (I use Splenda brown sugar)
½ tsp apple pie spice
¼ tsp salt
4 favorite sweet apples, cored and halves
2 TBSP chopped pecans
Combine brown sugar, apple pie spice and salt; sprinkle evenly over cut sides of apples. Place apples on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or under tender. Sprinkle evenly with pecans and bake 5 minutes more or until pecans are toasted.
Original recipe suggests serving with some nonfat vanilla yogurt or no-sugar-added fat free frozen vanilla yogurt. Or you could add a small dollop of fat free or sugar free Cool Whip.
Per serving, 110 calories, 23 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 3 g fat, 3 g fiber, 145 mg sodium. Weight Watchers, this dessert is 2 points without any topping.
Here is another simple recipe for BAKED APPLES;
To make Easy Baked Apples, you will need
4 medium size tart apples, cored
4 tsp low sugar strawberry spreadable fruit
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups unsweetened orange juice
Place apples in a foil lined 8” square baking dish. Spoon 1 tbsp fruit into the center of each apple; sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour orange juice into pan. Bake, uncovered, 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
This dessert has, per serving, 109 calories, trace of fat, 1 g. protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, no cholesterol 9 milligrams sodium. Weight Watchers, this dessert is also 2 points per serving.
MAPLE APPLES WITH CINNAMON CREAM is another heart-healthy low cal, low fat dessert. To make Maple Apples with Cinnamon Cream, you will need:
3 medium apples, peeled (if desired*) cored and sliced
½ tsp grated orange peel (optional)
2 TBSP natural or sugar free maple syrup
1 tsp margarine or butter
½ cup reduced sugar or sugar free nonfat vanilla yogurt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Place apple slices and orange peel in a one quart microwavable baking dish. Drizzle maple syrup over the apples; toss to mix. Dot with butter. Cover loosely; microwave at high power 3 to 5 minutes or until apples are crisp tender, stirring once.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, blend yogurt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon apples, hot or at room temperature, into serving dishes. Drizzle each serving with yogurt mixture.
Per serving: 87 calories, 1 g fat, O mg cholesterol, 32 mg sodium, 20 g. carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 3 grams fiber.
Sandy’s cooknote: eat the apple peel any time it’s possible–it’s good for you!
OLD FASHIONED APPLE FRITTERS
My grandmother often made apple fritters and served them dusted with powdered sugar – yum! One of my favorites to this day. To make Old Fashioned Apple Fritters, you will need:
1 cup sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk
2 tsp cooking oil
1 cup diced pared apples
Cooking oil for frying, confectioners sugar
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Beat egg well and combine with milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients, then add diced apple. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into hot cooking oil heated to 375 degrees F. and cook about 4 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
OLD TOWN APPLE-CINNAMON MUFFINS
To make Old T own Apple-Cinnamon muffins, you will need
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups flour
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup peeled, chopped Granny Smith apples, packed
In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating until well combined. Add vanilla. Toss together flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Then add, alternately over low speed, with milk to butter-egg mixture just enough to blend. Fold in apples. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin cups at least 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle each muffin with 1 tsp of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Serve warm. Makes 12 large muffins.
½ cup sugar
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, tossing to mix well. Makes ½ cup.
Each muffin contains 354 calories, 13 grams of fat, 0.12 grams fiber. Each muffin is 8 points on Weight Watchers (you might want to eat just half of one! Or instead of making 12 large muffins, aim for 24 small ones which would then be 4 points each).