Each week, we shine the spotlight on a food featured in Michi’s Ladder. This week, we’ll take a look at apples. Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions about the food or if there’s a food from Michi’s Ladder that you’d really like to see us do next!
Apples are on Tier 1 of Michi’s Ladder.
Q: What are apples?
A: The fruit of deciduous trees, apples in 36 varieties were cultivated by the Romans in the first century A.D., and now there are 7,000 types of apples recognized just in the U.S. Bite into an apple, and you’ll taste anything from sweet and juicy flesh (from Gala or Golden Delicious apples) to tart, hard flesh that’s nearly too sour to eat (as anyone who’s tried to eat a crabapple knows). Choose the right apples, and you’ve got great snacks that can be eaten on the run.
Q: When should I look for apples?
A: You’ll find the freshest apples in the fall, usually from September through November, but most varieties are available throughout the year. Check in at your local farmers markets to find out which varieties are available and when in your region.
Q: How should I choose apples?
A: First, decide if you’re hunting for an apple that you can toss into lunch sacks, or if you need apples for a pie, jam or other recipe. For example, Gravensteins are great all-purpose cooking apples; Red Delicious apples are perfect hand-held snack apples; and Bramley, Empire and Granny Smith apples make ideal pie filling. In general, skins should be smooth and bruise-free, although you might notice a “scald” or tan or brown-colored areas, which have no effect on the apple’s flavor.
Q: What are the health benefits of apples?
A: One raw apple delivers about 10 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, according to the USDA. Although apples aren’t an amazingly high in dietary fiber, the fiber they do have is especially good. About 50 percent of it is pectin, a soluble fiber that interacts with phytonutrients in the skin (yes, you should eat the skin) to have cardiovascular benefits.
Q: How do I store apples?
A: Apples generally store well when refrigerated in the crisper drawer, but their lifespan depends on the variety. Jonathan apples can keep for 120 days, while Granny Smiths can keep up to 240 days. Apples can also be stored in a cool and dry place, such as a cold cellar.
Q: How do I eat apples?
A: Lightly scrub apples in cool water before chomping into them or cooking with apples. This removes dirt, wax coatings, and—unless you’re buying organic—pesticides. Apples are incredibly convenient snacks, and they can be chopped and dropped in salads for extra crunch, sliced for fruit and cheese plates, or hollow them out with a melon baller, sprinkle the insides with lemon juice to prevent browning, and fill them with black beans and quinoa for tasty, edible apple bowls.
Q: How do I get my kids to like apples?
A: Red Delicious apples, with their vibrant color, juicy flesh and sweet flavor, are the perfect gateway fruits to healthier snack habits for little ones. Add dips like peanut butter, and kids will have fun snacking on apples.