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Cart Smarts: The best apples for each use

September 26, 2018

Welcome to apple harvest season in Minnesota! As you walk into the grocery store or visit an apple orchard, you will see many varieties of apples on display. Many varieties of grocery store apples are grown locally here in Southeast Minnesota.

The health benefits of apples are numerous. Apples contain antioxidants, which may reduce your risk for some cancers and heart disease. They contain nutrients such as fiber and phytochemicals that are linked to these health benefits. The pectin in apples is a soluble fiber which aids in digestion, helps reduce cholesterol and helps keep blood sugars more stable.

A medium-sized apple contains about 80 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber, which is about 20 percent of your daily fiber needs. Apples are thirst-quenching because they contain about 85 percent water. They are a perfect snack food because their natural sugars provide quick energy.

Buy apples that are firm and crisp, not soft or spongy. Surface blemishes do not harm fruit quality. Remember that color does not determine ripeness.

Store apples in a cool, dark place or in the crisper of your refrigerator, preferably in the bag that they are packaged in. Apples ripen 10 times faster outside of the refrigerator. Apples love high humidity and cold temperatures. Keep the stem attached to any picked fruit and it will help keep it fresh and extend its storage life.

When freezing, pick apples that have crisp and firm textures, and use varieties that are good for making pies and sauces. Freeze slices on a cookie sheet and when they are completely frozen, remove the slices and pack them in freezer containers.

This fruit’s flesh darkens quickly when exposed to air. You can keep apple slices looking fresh for cooking or preserving by dipping them in a lemon juice solution: Mix three tablespoons of bottled lemon juice with one quart of water.

Some apples are better than others for specific uses. Following is a general guide for recommended apple uses, developed based on industry consensus. Personal preferences may vary.

• Salads: Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Jonagold, Cripps Pink, Red Delicious

• Pies: Cameo, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Jonathan, McIntosh, Cripps Pink, Rome Beauty, Haralson

• Sauce: Cameo, Cortland, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, McIntosh, Cripps Pink, Rome Beauty, Paula Red

• Baking: Cameo, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, Paula Red

• Baking a whole apple (retain shape): Honeycrisp, Rome, Jonagold, Spartan

• Freezing: Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp

Here is a quick and easy recipe to incorporate apples into a healthy family meal.

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