Apple Season

October 1, 2012

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It’s apple season again here in New Hampshire. I mean the kind that grow on trees, not the latest iPhone.

We don’t grow tree fruits, but we do buy and enjoy a lot of local apples from late September through the winter months.

In seasons when the Baldwins or Northern Spys are abundant, I generally buy a bushel to stash in the root cellar, alongside the homegrown cabbages and carrots. (They store best in a cold, humid environment.)

We eat apples fresh, baked (stuffed with walnuts, drizzled with honey and a little cinnamon), in sauce(s), in poultry stuffings, cut up and sauteed as a side dish, and in pies and pandowdies.

Some households (not ours) also make their own cider (including hard cider, drink of choice of our Colonial ancestors), vinegar, pectin, and “leather”. 

Science is providing new relevance to the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A growing body of research suggests that eating apples and apple products may help prevent cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, asthma, allergies, diabetes, some cancers, and osteoporosis, as well as help with weight management. So eat up!


What else can apples do?

In an earlier post, I listed a few of the extraordinary number of uses of apple cider vinegar. Fresh apples, too, have other uses around the house.

As a ripening agent: Fresh apples give off ethylene gas, which will speed up the ripening of other fruit. Just set unripe pears, tomatoes,or bananas in a bowl or bag with a couple of apples. Because of the ethylene gas, it’s a good idea not to store apples in your refrigerator or in the same storage space as potatoes, as they tend to make the potatoes sprout earlier.

To keep baked goods from drying out: Cakes, muffins, homemade breads will stay moist longer if you store them in a bag or container containing a cut apple.

To soften a lump of hardened brown sugar: Just tuck a piece of cut apple in a sealed bag with the brown sugar for a few hours.

To remove excess salt from a soup: Just drop a few pieces of peeled apple into the soup, stew for a few minutes, and remove the apples, which should have sopped up the excess salt.

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Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.

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