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Friday, December 28, 2012

APPLES:

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. we lived upstairs from my grandparents who owned the grocery store.  I would often go downstairs to see Grandma.  Sometimes I would be met by the glorious smell of apples cooking.  Sometimes Grandpa would send home a bag full of apples that were bruised and Grandma would cook them up.  Whenever I cook some apples that smell brings me back to Brooklyn.  Now I'm a little more sophisticated.  I throw a handful of raisins in with the cooking apples.

Apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits.  They are actually a member of the rose family.  Apples have been grown for thousands of years and are bred for various tastes and uses.  There are currently 7500 varieties of apples.  Apples are used for cooking, fresh eating, and cider production.  They have been present in mythology and religion of many cultures often as a mystical or forbidden fruit.

The top 9 varieties of apples grown in Washington state are Red Delicious, Gold Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, Crisp Pink, and Cameo.  Apples are available all year with a few varieties that are not always around.  For a pretty good listing of apple varieties from A to Z visit http://www.orangepippin.com/apples.

Pick apples that are firm with smooth shiny skin.  Apples grow with a coating of natural wax which protects them from shriveling and weight loss.  They are washed at the packing sheds to remove dust and chemical residues.  This washing removes about half of the original wax which is then replaced with a natural coating.  While the wax is safe to eat the US Food and Drug Administration recommends washing all fruits and vegetables at home.  Use cool tap water to prevent the wax from turning white or cloudy.  Soaps or detergents are not recommended.  Most varieties can be held approximately 2 weeks in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  Some types including Granny Smith and Fuji can be stored up to a year.

Apples are often eaten raw except for the seeds which are slightly poisonous.  Sliced apples turn brown with exposure to the air, but pouring a little lemon juice or pineapple juice on them will prevent it.

The proverb "An apples a day keeps the doctor away" is attributed to J.T. Stinson addressing the health affects of apples in a lecture at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.  Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.  Apples contain ursolic acid which increases skeletal muscle and brown fat and decreases white fat obesity, glucose intolerance and fatty liver disease.  Relatively low in vitamin C apples are a rich source of other antioxidant compounds which prevent cell and tissue damage.  Fiber content while low helps with bowel movements and may also help with heart disease, weight loss, and controlling cholesterol.  Research summarized that apple juice helped prevent increases in oxidative damage which contributes to a decline in cognition commonly seen with aging and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.  Registered Dietition Tammi Flynn from her experience developed the 3-a-day plan in which you eat an apple before each meal.  People report feeling changes in their bodies and losing 3 times the weight as before.

I like to sprinkle raw apples with cinnamon or put some peanut butter on them.  Don't forget about the raisins in the apples sauce.  So eat up, enjoy, I'll show you how.