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Forget the doctor – an apple a day tastes good

The apple is a “good guy” when it comes to nutrition. The variety of health benefits supplied by apples is huge and very encouraging. This fist-sized snack needs little preparation, is very portable and easy to consume.

Remember...an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

It is important to keep in mind that a lot of the goodness of apples is consumed in the skin. If eaten whole, they need to be washed carefully – right before being consumed. On the tree, apples have their own natural coating to protect them. This is removed when they are cleaned for production, and a new artificial coating is applied for shipping them. This artificial coating can be washed off using warm water and a fruit and vegetable cleaner. Organic apples don’t always look as good as other apples, but they are the safest choice if there is concern about pesticides and preservatives.

How an apple is eaten is important – especially when eating them with the skin on. Each bite of apple needs to be chewed until it is practically mush. Then the digestive enzymes can do their work of extracting the nutritional components from the apple as it passes through the digestive system.

Some of the reported benefits or apples are: a rich source of flavonoid and polyphenols, both powerful antioxidants; eating 100 grams of apple can give an antioxidant effect equal to taking about 1500 mg of vitamin C; apples contain a large amount of minerals and vitamins that can strengthen the blood; apples contain malic acid and tartaric acid, that can help prevent disturbances of the liver and digestion; apple cider vinegar when used as a beverage can help to prevent the formation of kidney stones; eating an apple daily can lower cholesterol and reduce skin diseases.

The markets are full of different varieties of apples these days so bring home some new varieties and eat some raw and cook some and enjoy the benefits of this healthy fruit. Unfortunately here in the deep South we do not have much in the way of apples. We’re still working on growing some low chill varieties here on the farm. If you are traveling to the mountains this fall to see the foliage, you should stop at one of the roadside stands and get some of their local apples.

Taken from Southern Living, September 2011 issue.

Fresh Applesauce

Makes 10-12 servings

For the best taste and texture, use a variety of apples.

12 large apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (6 ½ lb.)

1 cup sugar

½ lemon, sliced

Bring all ingredients to a light boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 25-30 minutes or until apples are tender and juices thicken. Remove and discard lemon slices. Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature (about two hours). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to two weeks.

Apple Brown Betty

Serves 6-8

4 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into ¼ -inch-thick wedges

1 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon.

Place half of apple wedges in a lightly greased 11×7-inch baking dish; sprinkle apples with half of brown sugar mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining apples, brown apple mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Pour apple cider over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to an hour or until browned and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

From the cookbook, Harvest to Heat, comes this apple soup recipe.

Smoky Pork and Apple Soup with Mustard

Serves 4

Use any apples that you like, and for a variation in flavor, add a dash of allspice or nutmeg.

For the stock:

1 ½ pounds ham hocks (about two)

2 ¾ cups apple cider

1 red onion, cut in half

For the soup:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

7 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

3 small onions, cut into ½-inch dice

1 ½ pounds medium potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into ½-inch dice

1 medium head garlic, peeled around the outside but kept whole

3 apples, preferable Granny Smith, cut into ½ -inch dice

2 tablespoons mustard, preferable Dijon

Coarse salt

Make the stock: In a large stockpot, combine the ham hocks, 3 quarts water, the apple cider, and red onion halves; simmer over medium heat for about 3 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. When cool enough to handle, remove the ham hocks and pull the meat off the bones and set aside; discard the bones. Reserve the cooking liquid (you should have about 2 quarts).

Make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat; add the carrots, parsnips, and onions, and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic, apples, ham, and reserved liquid (if you do not have 2 quarts then add enough water to equal 2 quarts) and cook until the vegetables are tender about 10 minutes. Stir in the mustard and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.