Apples, full of antioxidants and fiber, offer many health benefits.
Not only are apples tasty and sweet, but they're also really good for you. Apples have been around for thousands of years, first in Europe and Asia. European colonists brought apples to North America in the 17th century. Most apples in the U.S. are grown in Washington State, New York, and Michigan, with each state specializing in certain varieties of apples.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old proverb, originally from Whales, which was made popular at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. This speaks to the health benefits of apples. Apples, with over 7,500 known varieties, are used for eating, cooking, such as applesauce or baked apples, or making cider or juice.
China produces almost 50% of the 69 million tons of apples (2010 figures) and the U.S. produces 6% of the world production.
How to Store Apples
People have asked me how we get apples all year round when the growing season is fall and winter. There are two types of storage that keep apples fresh all year. One is called “common storage” and the other “controlled atmosphere storage.”
The best apples are put into common storage and sold between September and January. Controlled atmosphere storage in effect puts apples to sleep to slow the breathing process. Near freezing temperatures facilitate this process. Oxygen, humidity and carbon dioxide are controlled with this process. Most apples can be stored at home for up to 2 weeks in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
Top 10 Apple Varieties
- Braeburn: Baked or eaten out of hand, braeburns are an all-purpose sweet, yet tart apple.
- Crabapple: The only apple common to North America is too sour to eat but makes excellent jellies and jams; you’ll also find them spiced and canned whole.
- Fuji: this Japanese hybrid was brought to the U.S. in the 1960’s; they contain between 15% to 18% sugar levels, making them one of the sweetest varieties available; with a very long shelf life.
- Gala: made their way into the U.S. market in the 1980's; they are the first apples to ripen—in August—and have a vanilla-like aroma.
- Golden Delicious: this year-round yellowish-green apple has been the parent to many well-known varieties; it is planted in warm apple growing areas and was originally grown on a farm in West Virginia.
- Granny Smith: this crisp, tart, light green apple is high in fiber; Granny Smith’s are perfect for baked apple pies.
- Honeycrisp: this apple was developed at the University of Minnesota in 1960; its flesh is cream colored and it is sweet, tart and firm and has become a popular eating apple.
- McIntosh: in 1811 John McIntosh developed the first seedling; this red and green sweet but tart apple grows best in cold climates, such as New York.
- Pippin: this light green to yellow apple is said to have been a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Ben Franklin as it was first originated in New York in 1730; today most Pippins are grown in California, Washington State and Oregon.
- Red Delicious: best for eating (and not cooking) this bright red apple bears no relation to the Golden Delicious, as they are different varieties; this medium-sized apple has shelf appeal but it is much less flavorful than other apples.
The ten apples mentioned are only a few of the many varieties on the market today. If you come across a u-pick apple orchard, usually in the fall, use their apple picker and pick away. Just think of the many apple delights you can make at home, such as apple pies, apple crumble, apple tarts, apple strudel, applesauce and apple cake.
For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!