Friday, September 21, 2012

All About Apples

{Nourish : September : Apples}
History: Archeology shows us that humans were eating apples as early as 
6500 B.C. That's about 4000 years before the Egyptian Great Pyramid in Giza was built. What also happened around this time period? The cow was first domesticated in the Middle East, and humans mostly lived in small hunting-gathering tribes scattered across the globe. 

Crab apple trees are the only native apples to the US. Cultivated apple varieties were brought to America by Europeans nearly 400 years ago, followed not long after by shipments of honey bees to pollinate newly planted orchards. 
What's Inside:
Vitamin C - Fiber - Vitamin A - Calcium - Phosphorous
Potassium - Folate - Iron - Antioxidants
Plus small amounts of Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, E, K, & Niacin

In Season: The majority of apples are ripe for picking September-October. They are available year-round in grocery stores.

(Seasonal Fun: We look forward every Fall to a Saturday afternoon spent at a local orchard where we pick apples, buy cups of hot cider & more cider to take home, and wait in a long line for the most mouth-watering apple cider donuts EVER. )
Buying: Not much of a mystery to this. They are readily available at grocery stores. Check to make sure they have good color, and don't have bruises, cuts, or soft spots. 

Organic vs. Non Organic: Apples are regularly listed as one of the top fruits/vegetables contaminated by pesticides, and most regular grocery store apples are also coated with wax to make them look shiny and appealing. For both of these reasons apples are invariably on the recommended lists of produce items to choose if you're choosing a few fruits/vegetables to buy organic. Especially if you can't/don't buy organic, be sure to wash apples well by rubbing under running water.
Storing: Apples keep best in the refrigerator, preferably in the crisper drawer.

Eating: Keep the skin on! Most of the fiber and Vitamin C in an apple is located in or just below the skin.

Varieties: There nearly 7500 varieties of apples worldwide, but only about 100 of these are produced commercially in the US. I don't know about you, but my local grocery store has about 12 types, and we get to sample a few more unusual varieties when we make our annual orchard trip in the Fall.
Stay tuned for next week when we share our observations from a family tasting of 8 apple varieties!

{Nourish is our monthly series on learning about and using amazing foods.}

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