Robust Autumn Applesby Monica Lloyd on 10/09/16
By Monica Lloyd
Apples arrive on the scene when autumn produces its colorful and bright display. As the leaves begin to paint the landscape in shades of yellow, orange and red, many fond childhood memories come to my mind. Hay rides, harvest parties (Bobbing for apples is always fun.), leaf pile jumping, and reaping the bounty of the food that is grown in our gardens, orchards and berry patches. Apples are a popular choice for gardeners everywhere.
There are over 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States, while 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world. A mere 100 different types are commercially grown in Orchards in the United States.
Some of the more recognized apples include cultivars like Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Gravenstein and MacIntosh. There flavors can range from mildly sweet, to super sweet or tart. Textures vary greatly as well, some being soft while others are crisp and hard, and as always a good apple is always juicy and satisfying to eat.
Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Loaded with fiber, pectin, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals apples have proven to be a powerhouse of wholesome goodness which includes potassium, folate, niacin and vitamins A, B, C, E , K and more.
As a part of a well-balanced diet and lifestyle, including apples as a consistent part of your diet is believed to lower risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes (by reducing glucose absorption, stimulating the pancreas and stimulating insulin receptors) , tooth decay, and age related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They are also said to aid digestion, relieve constipation, accelerate cleansing of toxins and help boost metabolism and weight loss.
A well known advocate of healthy eating is quoted stating, “If you can get apples, you are in a good condition as far as fruit is concerned, if you have nothing else. . . . Apples are superior to any fruit...” Maybe that is why they are in such abundance worldwide.
Like all drupe fruits the seeds of apples contain the poison cyanide and should be avoided in large quantities.
Amazingly, apples are one fruit that has a shelf life lasting well into the winter months. They keep best if stored somewhere around 30-35°F, in a humid environment and in a separate area from vegetables. (Fruits and vegetables give off different gasses that cause them to break down faster.) This can also be accomplished if the produce is stored in enclosed boxes and the gasses do not mix.
Apples are dependably versatile fruits for creative cooks the world over. These hearty, but delightful dainties can be candied, stuffed, baked, dried, boiled, braised, fried, and turned into pie, cake, sauce, crisp, dumplings, fritters, juice, jelly, butter, and seasoned sweet or savory. You can slice, dice, shred or wedge them raw and add to salads. My son used to take great care to cut them up into thin strips like shoestring French fries.
One of our family’s end of summer events is applesauce making. Several pounds of these enchanting fruits are processed in a few short hours and canned to be enjoyed later. MacIntosh is our favorite saucing apple, but we like to mix other types for added flavor. Try it over pancakes or waffles with peanut or other nut butters. One of my winter favorites is warmed applesauce with a splash of unsweetened soy milk stirred in. Adding spices like cinnamon or coriander have made this fruit dish a popular treat for centuries.
I hope that you enjoy this twist on an old and much loved recipe. (Maybe it’s not quite the American as Apple Pie you remember as a child.)
Lavender Apple Blueberry Pie
4 – 5 medium apples 2 – 3 T. Earth Balance Margarine or butter
1 ½ c. blueberries, fresh or frozen 3 T. cornstarch, flour or tapioca starch*
½ c. organic sugar pinch of orange peel
1 ½ t. food grade lavender extract dash of coriander powder
1 t. lemon juice or ½ t. apple cider vinegar
Have your pie crust ready; then wash, core and thinly slice apples and place in a mixing bowl; add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, orange peel, coriander, sugar, lavender extract and mix well. Next melt butter or margarine and mix into apple mixture along with flour, cornstarch or tapioca starch; stir in blueberries and pour into your favorite pie crust and place top crust on or build a lattice, pinching up the edges. Be sure to poke air holes in the top if using a solid top and brush with some of the melted margarine left in the pan and sprinkle with sugar. Pies will have more or less juice depending on the amount in the fruit and whether the fruit is fresh or frozen. You may need to adjust the thickener accordingly. If you do not have lavender extract you can make a very strong tea using ½ cup water and 1 T. dried lavender; simmer until half or more of the water is gone, then strain and add 2 t. of tea to pie filling in place of extract. .*NOTE: All three of these are used in pies to thicken the juices. Bake at 350? for 50 – 60 minutes and cool for 30 – 45 minutes before serving.