Updated: Apr 1
Apples are a member of the Rose family, being a cousin to peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots. They are white-fleshed fruit with red, yellow, or green skins. The apple is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. In fact, Michigan is the nation’s 3rd largest producer of apples. About 60% of Michigan’s apples are processed into applesauce, jelly, butter, juice or cider, and vinegar. Michigan is the leading producer of sliced apples for pre-made apple pies.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
No matter the color, look for firm apples. The skins should be smooth, with no bruises or gashes. Some apples may have a dry, tan patch on the skin – this does not affect the taste and is fine to eat. Apples bruise easily so it’s important to handle them as gently as possible. They can be stored 3-4 months in a cool, dark place or at room temperature but, keeping them in ventilated bags in the fridge helps minimize a loss of nutrients. If you include with them a damp cheesecloth in the crisper drawer, it will help maintain some of their moisture. The famous saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch” rings true. If an apple is bruised or damaged, it releases ethylene gas that can decrease the shelf life of the others. Be sure to remove bad apples as soon as possible. Sliced apples also freeze well in plastic bags or containers.
HOW TO PREPARE AND COOK
Thoroughly clean apples before preparing them to remove the typical wax coating. Once cut, they can brown quickly so treat them with cold water and a spoonful of lemon juice. Apples can be eaten raw and are commonly used in desserts like pies, crumbles, or coffeecakes. They can also be pureed into applesauce, extracted into juice or cider, or processed as apple butter or jelly. Different varieties are better used for different things – tart apples retain texture best during cooking, so are often preferred for cooked desserts like pie, while sweeter apples are usually eaten raw.
4 cups cooked shredded pork butt roast
1 cup smoky or mesquite BBQ sauce
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate
1 Tbsp butter
2 medium apple, cored and sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon-sugar
6 crusty sandwich rolls
Combine pork, BBQ sauce, and apple juice concentrate in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat until heated through, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet of medium heat. Add sliced apples and cinnamon-sugar. Cook and stir 5-6 minutes, or until apples are tender. Divide pork evenly over the bottom of the rolls, and top with cooked apples. Cover with roll tops.
*Suggested Michigan apple varieties: Ida Red, Roma, Empire, Gala, Jonagold, Jonathon, McIntosh
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM IT?
Another popular saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This is suggested because apples have a significant amount of fiber and Vitamin C, various phytochemicals, and can reduce the risks of some cancers. Apple skins contain a lot of nutrients so even if recipes call for peeled apples, consider leaving them on for added benefits.