Seasonal Goodness - Apples

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When I was a girl, we used to drive to Julian, CA and pick apples every year in early fall. Growing up in Southern CA, there wasn’t much of a fall or the changing of the colors, but this one day trip was my fall experience every year and wonderful memories for me.

Once I was the Mom, I searched out the same experiences for my children. When we lived in Southern CA, we also visited Julian. When we lived in Washington and then in Minnesota we always sought out local orchards (as well as planting our own) and picked and preserved apples. It just doesn’t seem like fall without apples. Now we live in Nebraska. The weather here in prairie country isn’t the best for apples. Too much freezing rain and ice and not many apple trees. It makes me sad but I still seek out apples to preserve and enjoy in these fall months.

Some of my favorite apples and their uses:

Braeburn: These apples store exceptionally well. The skin is tender, the flavor is moderately tart and they keep their shape well when baked

Cortland: These are very fragile and need to be stored separated to avoid bruising. They are high in vitamin C and because of this resist browning better than most other apples. Normally very thin-skinned and have a slight tart-sweet taste. They have juicy, tender, snow white flesh and keep their shape well when baked. Excellent for eating, salads, sauce, pies and baking. Good for freezing. This great all purpose apple was developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in 1898.

Crispin: These apples are sweet, yet very refreshing; very juicy; and super crisp. Excellent for eating, sauce, baking and freezing Good for salads and pies. Try Crispins for roasting whole apples or thick slices. They're a wonderful accompaniment for your favorite roast.

Empire: With the popular Red Delicious and McIntosh for parents, Empire apples were destined to be a hit. It's a sweet-tart combination that's great for everything. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva introduced this new variety in 1966. It has juicy, very crisp, creamy white flesh. Excellent for eating and salads. Good for sauce, baking, pies and freezing.

Golden Delicious: These will store for 3-4 months fairly well in a very cool location but spoil fast at room temp. Should be light-yellow, not greenish. Skin is tender and the flavor is sweet. Since they are high in vitamin C they resist browning. Retain their shape well when baked. There are over 150 varieties of Red and Golden Delicious apples grown worldwide, more than any other apple.

Gravenstein: Old favorite large apple from Germany, with unique flavor and aroma. Great for fresh eating, and famous for sauce.

Honeycrisp: These apples are 60 to 90% scarlet red over a yellow background color. It is exceptionally crisp and juicy. The flesh is cream colored and coarse. The flavor is sub-acid and ranges from mild and well balanced to strongly aromatic, depending on the degree of maturity. Keeps well for 5 to 6 months in common storage.

Northern Spy: Tart, tangy, robust, juicy, firm apples excellent for pies. One of the oldest American varieties, it is the quintessential baking apple. Overlook the irregular shape and variable coloration, this apple is not for display. A little too robust as a fresh-eating apple for many, it still has many fans who enjoy it in hand.

Paula Red: This apple is only available from late August into October. It is a tart apple with juicy, crisp white flesh. Excellent for eating and good for making applesauce. Paula Red applesauce needs little or no sugar.

Pink Lady: Tart, crisp apples that are very good for all uses.

Prairie Spy: Extra long keeping winter apple. Large fruit with attractive red over yellow color. Crisp, juicy flesh with excellent flavor. All purpose. Keeps for 3 months with flavor developing and improving in storage. Hardy, vigorous, long-lived, annually productive tree. Bears young and heavily. One of the best home orchard varieties. Developed by the University of Minnesota. Ripe in early October.

State Fair: New, cold hardy Minnesota variety. Introduced in 1979. Mantet X Oriole. Fruit is round, conic, medium sized. Fruit is brilliantly striped with reddish orange over a yellow background. Creamy flesh is firm, juicy aromatic and sweet and firmer than most early varieties. Moderately sub-acid flavor. Excellent for fresh eating. Keeps well for a summer apple.

And a few apple recipes.

Apples & Romaine Salad
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash of salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apple
2 cups chopped Braeburn apple
¼ cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 cups mixed salad greens or crisp Romaine hearts
To prepare dressing, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
To prepare salad, combine apples, cheese, and bacon. Drizzle dressing over apple mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve over greens.

Spicy Apple-Stuffed Squash

1 acorn squash (about 1 pound)
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 teaspoons melted butter or margarine
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Halve squash and remove seeds; cut into quarters. Place quarters, skin side up, in dish and cover; bake 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine apple, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Turn cut sides of acorn squash up; top with apple mixture. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer or until apples are tender.

Carnival Caramel Apples

1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 c light corn syrup
Dash of salt
1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
10-12 popsicle sticks
10 to 12 medium sized, tart apples, washed and dried
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped

In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter; add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
Insert Popsicle sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Dip bottom of apples into peanuts. Set on greased waxed paper to cool. Yield: 10-12 apples.

Apple Pancakes

1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup apples, peeled and grated
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and nutmeg in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, egg, butter, vanilla, and milk. Combine both mixtures stirring only until blended. Fold in grated apple. Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle. When batter is full of holes, turn to brown on other side. Turn pancakes only once while cooking. Makes 7 eight-inch pancakes.

Apple Cider Syrup

1-½ cup apple cider or juice
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

In a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed With Apples

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
2 T butter or olive oil
2 medium baking apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
1 C fresh bread crumbs, made by processing 2 large slices of stale bread
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp savory
½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp - 1T vegetable or olive oil
For glaze:
4 T honey
1 T brown sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T brown mustard
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Split the tenderloin almost in half lengthwise. Place it between two sheets of waxed paper; pound it to about ½-inch thick. Heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and onion and sauté until lightly brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, marjoram and savory, and toss with the apple-onion mixture until moistened through. Remove from heat. Pepper and salt the inside of the tenderloin and spread the apple stuffing over the surface. Roll the tenderloin lengthwise and tie with kitchen string. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Add oil and brown the pork on all sides. Place in a baking dish. To make the glaze, combine the honey, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Pour the glaze over the tenderloin and bake for 45 minutes, basting with the glaze 3-4 times. Remove from the oven; let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.