Apples

In Season

October 19, 2005|By ROBIN MATHER JENKINS | ROBIN MATHER JENKINS,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Food historian Waverly Root quoted writer A.J. Liebling on the subject of apples, specifically on the topic of the mediocrity of apples. People who don't like food, Liebling wrote, "have made a triumph of the Delicious apple because it doesn't taste like an apple, and of the Golden Delicious because it doesn't taste like anything."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture grows more than 2,500 varieties at its test orchard in Geneva, N.Y., the National Geographic reported. Look past the Delicious and the McIntosh and try some different varieties.

Three newer varieties we like:

Honeycrisp, a Minnesota apple, has crisp, juicy flesh and a balanced, sweet-tart flavor. It's terrific for baking or eating out of hand. Look for Honeycrisps at farmers' markets and local orchards.

Braeburn, also crisp and juicy, has a good balance of sweet and tart. It will keep for a very long time in your refrigerator for eating out of hand or baking. Braeburns are available in supermarkets year-round.

Pink Lady, a Golden Delicious offspring from Western Australia, has creamy flesh that resists browning. It's perfect for salads and is widely available in supermarkets throughout the year.

Robin Mather Jenkins writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Did you know?

The legend of Johnny Appleseed is based on a real man: a deeply philosophical vegetarian who traveled the frontier planting orchards.

NUTRITION -- An apple provides fiber (3 grams in a medium-sized apple) and vitamin C (mostly just underneath the peel, so eat it too). Apples are also good sources of antioxidants and nutrients that may improve heart health and reduce cancer risk. Apples contain no fat, no cholesterol and no sodium.

STORING -- Keep apples in the coolest drawer of the refrigerator. Wash just before eating.

PREPARATION -- As any school kid knows, an apple is mighty tasty right out of hand. All you need to do is wash it before eating.

HANDLING TIP -- Coat apple slices and dices in a mixture of one part lemon juice to three parts water - or in vitamin C-fortified 100 percent apple juice - to retard browning.

COOKING -- Apples grace salads and they're delicious sauteed alongside pork or chicken. Leave the peels on when you can, both for flavor and for health. Apple pies, the fruit's zenith, rely on a mix of tart apples, like Granny Smith, and sweeter ones, like Honeycrisp or Braeburn. Cider does, too; cider made from just one variety tastes flat and peculiar. On the other hand, if it's sauce you're after, choose McIntosh or Delicious.

CORE FACTS

About 2,500 known varieties of apples are grown in the United States. More than 7,500 are grown worldwide.

In 2002, the average U.S. consumer ate an estimated 15.8 pounds of fresh-market apples and 26.4 pounds of processed apples, for a total of 42.2 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products. In 2001, average per-capita consumption was 45.2 pounds of apples and apple products.

Apples have existed for the length of recorded history, believed to have originated in the Caucasus, a mountainous area between what are now the Black and Caspian Seas. [ U.S. Apple Association]

Apple Chicken Stir-Fry

4 servings

1 pound cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup onion, vertically sliced

1 cup (2 medium) carrots, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1 cup fresh or frozen Chinese pea pods

1 tablespoon water

1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced

2 cups cooked rice

Stir-fry cubed chicken breast in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in nonstick skillet until lightly browned and cooked. Remove from skillet.

Stir-fry onion, carrots and basil in remaining oil in same skillet until carrots are tender. Stir in pea pods and water; stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in apple. Add to chicken, serve hot over cooked rice.

Per serving: 365 calories; 30 grams protein; 33 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 9 grams fat; 62 milligrams cholesterol; 71 milligrams sodium

Recipe and analysis courtesy of U.S. Apple Association

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