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The Joys of Apples

December 31st, 2012 Seasonal

The fall season is the time to break out those classic recipes for apple pies, cider and anything else that involves one of America's favorite fruits. Store-bought apples are great if you need them at the last minute, but picking your own is not only eco-friendly, it can save you money and provide a great family activity.

Different varieties
There are hundreds of different kinds of apples, but here are a few of the most popular types that you may be interested to try.
• Akane, one of the best early-season apples
• Baldwin, an old variety good for culinary use
• Belmac, a delicious, late season McIntosh-like apple
• Braeburn, a flavorful late season apple great for making applesauce
• Cortland, similar to a McIntosh, but a little bigger and later ripening
• Fuji, developed in Japan, is crisp and sweet
• Gala, a relative of the Golden Delicious that's sweet and flavorful
• Golden Delicious, an apple with a sweet honeyed flavor
• Granny Smith, late season, crisp and juicy
• Honey Crisp, late season, crisp and hardy flavor
• McIntosh, mid season, perfumed flavor and crisp
• Red Delicious, juicy and classic.

When picking apples
Picking your own fruit may seem pretty straightforward, but these tips can help your autumn harvesting go without a hitch.

1. When you reach the farm, ask a worker which varieties are ready. Some types of trees produce fruit earlier or later in the season - you want whatever is fresh!

2. Apples on the outer branches of the tree ripen first, so look for those closest to you before searching through the foliage.

3. Rather than plucking the apple off the tree in a downward motion, detach it by rolling it up in your palm and twisting it a little. This will ensure no other apples fall off!

4. Place the apples gently in your bag or basket. If you let your kids drop them in, they'll be likely to bruise.

5. Don't wash the apples until you're ready to eat or use them for baking. This will ensure they last longer.

6. Store your freshly picked wares in a cool place to keep them from spoiling prematurely.

Apple crisp
Once you've picked all those juicy treats, try this classic apple recipe. This delightful dessert is sure to tickle the taste buds of everyone in your family!

Ingredients:
¾ cup of flour
¼ cup of light brown sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of sugar, 2 more tablespoons for topping
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
3 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
½ teaspoon of cinnamon.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the topping, mix flour, brown sugar, salt and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cut the cubes of butter into the mixture using two knives until it is a mealy texture. Mix in the oats and squeeze it all with your hands to form moist chunks, then store in the freezer while you prep the apples.

Mix the apple pieces with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Transfer into a baking dish, then put the oat mixture on top. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, then let cool a bit before serving with a heaping dollop of vanilla ice cream! Mmm!