No other fruit says “fall” quite like an apple. One bite of that sweet, crunchy goodness and you can just feel the crisp autumn air, taste that hot cider that’s helping to keep you warm at the high school football game, or smelling mom’s apple pie that’s just about ready to come out of the oven.
There are about 2,500 varieties of apples that are grown in the United States and they come in all shades of reds, greens and yellows. However, the crabapple is the only apple native to North America.
Pilgrims actually planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600s. Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768. Some were even sent to Benjamin Franklin while he was visiting London.
A majority of apples can be grown farther north than most other fruits, because they blossom late in spring, minimizing frost damage. Trees generally take four to five years to produce their first fruit.
Once they start producing, apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 boxes that weigh 42 pounds each. Incidentally, a bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.
Apples are harvested between August and November, but are available year round. Whole apples can keep for a few days a room temperature. If they are stored in the refrigerator, in a crisper drawer or open bag, though, they can last for up to six weeks.
One medium apple is about 80 calories. It is fat, sodium and cholesterol free and is a great source of the fiber pectin. Remember to eat your peel. Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants, which help to reduce damage to cells, are found in the peel. Makes sense that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
If you’re looking for tasty ways to prepare apples, check out www.foodhero.org. I’ve included two of my favorite recipes – microwave applesauce and baked apple chips.
Here’s hoping that you and yours enjoy the beautiful, bountiful days of autumn.