NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Apples!!

apples

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

You’ve heard, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.”  While it will certainly take more than a daily apple to keep you healthy, it is a step in the right direction. Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories, a natural mouth freshener, and they are still very inexpensive. This time of year it seems if you mention wanting apples, someone will have a bounty they are willing to share.

Apples are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber in apples provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system. Apples have long been a symbol of good nutrition because they provide fiber and natural antioxidants. A large apple has about 130 calories and 5 grams of fiber.

It is good idea to eat apples with their skin.  Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin.  Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content. Most of an apple’s fragrance cells are also concentrated in the skin and as they ripen, the skin cells develop more aroma and flavor.

More than 7,500 apple varieties are grown throughout the world, and 2,500 varieties are grown in the U.S. On average, we eat about 46 pounds of apples and processed apple products every year.

Apples have different "best" uses. Some apples are tart, others are crunchy and some withstand heating without becoming mushy. Some varieties, such as the Haralson apples in my backyard, are "all-purpose" so they can be used for baking, salads, pies and sauce. For example, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Jonagold and Golden Delicious apples usually are categorized as all-purpose.

If you have a bumper crop of apples from your own backyard, you can preserve them in many ways. If you make apple juice or cider, be sure to pasteurize it by heating it to 160 degrees to kill disease-causing bacteria that may have hitched a ride on the fruit.

Try freezing high-quality apples with these easy directions. To prevent darkening of apples during preparation, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid (available in the canning supplies area) in 3 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle over the fruit. To retard darkening, place slices in a single layer in a steamer; steam 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the slices.

Cool in cold water; drain. Over each quart (1 1/4 pounds) of apple slices, sprinkle evenly 1/2 cup sugar and stir. Pack apples into containers and press fruit down. Leave head space, then seal and freeze. To make an unsweetened pack, simply omit the sugar.

More information about freezing various fruits is available at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn182frzfts.pdf.

To learn about preserving fruit through dehydration, see "Drying Fruits" at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1587.pdf.

To learn about canning various fruits, see "Home Canning Fruit and Fruit Products" available at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn174.pdf.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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