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Time for Apples

Time for Apples

             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 a fairly inexpensive food.

            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.

            It is a 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.

            There are hundreds of varieties of apples on the market today, although most people have only tasted one or two of the most popular such as Red Delicious or Granny Smith. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy, depending on the one you choose.

            A popular way to preserve all of that fall goodness of apples is by freezing. Enzymes in light colored fruits such as apples, pears and peaches can cause oxidative browning as soon as the fruit is peeled or cut. Browning can cause loss of vitamin C. Because fruits are usually served raw they are not usually blanched to prevent this discoloration. Instead, chemical compounds are used to control enzymes in these fruits.

            The most common treatment is ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Ascorbic acid may be used in its pure form or in commercial mixtures of ascorbic acid and other compounds. Browning can also be halted temporarily by placing fruit in citric acid or lemon juice solutions or in sugar syrup. However, these measures are not as effective as treatment with ascorbic acid in its pure form.

            Apples, as well as other fruits, retain better texture and flavor if packed in sugar or sugar syrup. However, sugar is not necessary to safely preserve fruit. Fruits packed in syrup are generally best used for uncooked desserts, those packed in syrup or unsweetened are best for most cooking purposes, because there is less liquid in the product.

Syrup for Freezing Apples

 

            This syrup recipe will make 5 1/3 cups syrup which will cover approximately 6 pints or 3 quarts of apple slices. Use rigid freezer containers or zip-closure freezer bags.

      2-1/2 cups sugar
      4 cups water
      3 pounds apples
      1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid powder (1500 mg)*

            To make syrup, dissolve sugar in lukewarm water, mixing until the solution is clear. To prevent browning add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid powder (1500 mg) or equivalent in finely crushed vitamin C tablets. Stir to dissolve. Chill syrup before using. Select fresh full-flavored apples that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium apples into twelfths and large apples into sixteenths. Place 1/2 cup syrup in each pint-size container and slice each apple directly into chilled syrup. Press apples down in containers and add enough syrup to cover apple slices. Leave 1/2 inch headspace in each pint (or 1 inch in each quart-size container). Place a small piece of crumpled waxed paper, on top of each container to hold apples slices down under syrup. Seal, label, date and freeze at 0°F or below. Use within one year.

      *To use lemon juice: drop apple slices into a solution of two tablespoons lemon juice and two quarts water. Drain well before covering with syrup.

            Of course, enjoying apples right now is a great idea too!  Try the following heart-healthy version of an old favorite.

            Fresh Apple Coffeecake

12 servings (serving size: 1 piece) 

Batter

            1 cup all-purpose flour

            1/2 cup whole wheat flour

            1 cup granulated sugar

            1½ teaspoons baking powder

            1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

            1/2 teaspoon salt

            3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

            2 tablespoons Canola oil

            1 teaspoon vanilla extract

            1 large egg, lightly beaten

            1 cup diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 apple)

 

Topping

 

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons light margarine, cut into small pieces

 

            Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine flours and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, oil, vanilla, and egg, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in apple. Pour batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.

            To prepare streusel, combine brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm.  

 

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