Healthful picks

In Season

October 03, 2007|By Sylvia Carter | Sylvia Carter,Newsday

To every apple there is a season, and an apple to every purpose under heaven, to rephrase the song by the Byrds.

The words to that song are based on a biblical passage from Ecclesiastes, and in a way it is fitting to substitute the word "apple." An apple did play a pivotal role in the Bible, after all.

Not all apples ripen at the same time; they have their season. And apple varieties have their own distinctive purposes. A good snacking apple is not always a great pie apple, sauce apple or cider apple.

One apple packs antioxidant and anti-cancer activity equal to a megadose of 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C, according to a Cornell University study. Also, among many other health benefits, apples contain boron, an essential trace element that helps harden the bones to prevent osteoporosis. In a Brazilian study, women who included 300 grams of apples or pears (the equivalent of three small fruit) a day in their diets lost more weight on low-calorie diets than women who did not add fruit to their meal plans.

Of course, you could just eat apples because you like them. I do.

Sylvia Carter writes for Newsday. Sun reporter Kate Shatzkin contributed to this article.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

BUYING

Look for firm, crisp, well-colored apples, advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Avoid overripe apples (they'll feel mushy to the touch).

STORING

Give apples their space in the fridge. Don't store them with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, lettuce or spinach, according to the New York Apple Association. Apples give off a gas that can damage these vegetables.

COOKING

Fuji and Red Rome make great pie apples. For unsweetened applesauce, the University of Illinois extension service recommends naturally sweet varieties such as Golden Delicious, Red Delicious or Gala.

A LOOK AT SOME VARIETIES

Here are some popular apple varieties, their characteristics and the best uses for them:

Empire: Juicy and more sweet than tart, good for eating out of hand and applesauce.

Fuji: Sweet and juicy, with a touch of tartness, best for eating and salads, baking.

Gala: Mildly sweet and very crisp, excellent in salads and for eating out of hand.

Ginger Gold: Sweet yet slightly tart and fine-textured. Eat out of hand or use in salads.

Golden Delicious: Sweet and crisp, best for eating out of hand, salads and sauce.

Honeycrisp: Sweet-tart, juicy and crisp, super for eating out of hand and salads.

Jonagold: Honey-sweet with a hint of tartness, juicy, fine for eating raw, but good in pies, too.

McIntosh: Sweet and juicy with a tang of tartness, ideal as an eating apple.

Red Delicious: Extra sweet, crisp, a traditional eating apple.

Red Rome: Fairly tart, considered by many to be the be-all, end-all of baking apples.

[Sylvia Carter]

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