Apples 101: Everything You Need to Know

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Few fruits offer as much versatility as apples. There are literally thousands of varieties to consider; your only limitation is which ones are available for purchase in your area. Apples can be sweet and soft, tart and crisp, and everything in between. This ancient fruit from Central Asia provides your table with hundreds of options for sweet and savory dishes, and considerable nutritional value, including antioxidants and high fiber.

Don’t always want to snack on an apple? Then whip up an easy baked homemade applesauce with two or three sliced apple varieties, cinnamon, a pinch of brown sugar, and a dash of water. Warm up with apple-and-butternut squash soup seasoned with curry. Braise apples with your favorite meats to create a sweet glaze. Each apple has a distinct flavor, so have fun exploring all the options.

Identification

Depending on where you shop, you may find up to ten different types of apples available for purchase at any time—many more if you’re at a farmers’ market or a local co-op during peak season in the fall. Some apples, such as the Red Delicious, are easy to spot. Others, such as the Sweet Tango, are often red with a hint of yellow. Granny Smiths are deep green, and Fujis are slightly pink. All will fit in the palm of your hand, unless you find some of the softball-sized Honey Crisp!

Since there are so many varieties from which to choose, consider buying one or two different ones at a time throughout the season so you can find some of your favorites.

Taste

It’s hard to grow tired of an apple, because there are thousands of varieties from which to choose! Some of the most popular types you’ll discover at your favorite grocery range in flavor from super sweet and luscious to slightly tart to mouth-puckering sour. Some apples pair well with cheese; others are perfect for baking. Certain apples are all you want to eat out-of-hand, while others might be great in a stir-fry. There are so many flavor palates, you’ll have fun experimenting.

Availability

Popular apple varieties are readily available all year long. Specialty varieties and heirloom apples are widely available during peak season in both the US and Europe.

Season

Peak apple season in the US is from early fall to midwinter, and late summer through early spring in Europe. Out-of-season apples found in the Northern Hemisphere are usually from countries such as Chile or New Zealand.

Selection

Always look for firm, brightly colored apples. Size and color may vary by the type of apple, but as long as the fruit has a luster and feels heavy for its size, you have a good one.

Avoid fruit that has nicks or soft spots. Also look for slight discoloration around the stem, as that might be an indicator of mold.

Organic Benefits

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue, so the fruit is less affected than the exterior. Unfortunately, non-organic apples rank number one on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen,” list, and many conventionally grown apples are banned in Europe. So choose organic whenever possible, or visit local orchards that may not be organic, but grow fruit with minimal agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.

Storage

Apples stay fresh for up to three months in cold storage. However, this doesn’t always mean the refrigerator. You’ll lose some nutrients the longer the apples are in the crisper, and you’ll want to maintain some type of moisture in there, which means you may only be able to store loose apples in that drawer with a damp cheesecloth and nothing else. But, if you’re traveling a lot, it might be best to keep a selection of apples in the refrigerator instead of on the counter for a week or two.

Otherwise, if you have a cold garage, root cellar, or cool basement, store an assortment of apples in those places to enjoy throughout the winter. Make sure to remove any bruised or turning fruit, because as the saying goes, one bad apple will indeed ruin the whole bunch. The release of ethylene gas from the damaged fruit permeates the other apples.

Preparation

Apples are so incredibly versatile and easy to add to a busy schedule. Simply wash and eat! However, to remove any wax coating, wash your apples under a steady stream of water and scrub with a bristle brush for about 10 seconds.

Chunk, dice, slice, purée, juice, bake, sauté—there are few limits to your enjoyment of apples.

If you want to keep sliced apples from browning, briefly place them in a bowl of 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a bit of cold water.

Nutrition Summary

NUTRITION SUMMARY

Vitamin C

Far more than protecting the body from the common cold, this immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk.

Potassium

Builds muscle, and maintains normal body growth, as well as heart and respiratory health.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bone. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Amino acids and lipids are the main nutrients metabolized by vitamin B6, helping to promote proper energy levels throughout the body. It is also an important aspect of the formation of hemoglobin and neurotransmitters, protecting both the cardiovascular system and brain.

Manganese

The majority of the manganese in the body is stored in the bones and organ tissue, mainly the liver and kidneys. Manganese is responsible for production and maintenance of sex hormones, blood-sugar regulation, brain and nerve function, calcium regulation and absorption, and carbohydrate metabolism.


Health Benefits & Medical Claims

There’s one important rule to remember with apples: eat the skin! In many apple varieties, approximately 45 percent of healthful antioxidants are in the skin, not the flesh. One of the most important antioxidants, quercetin, provides you with a number of benefits, including immunity support, improved bone health, and additional protection from Alzheimer’s. Noshing on an apple also helps to regulate your blood sugar, which makes it the perfect afternoon snack to avoid the coffee or chocolate lift.

Little Known Facts
  1. More than two thousand varieties of apples are grown in the US, and more than seven thousand worldwide.
  2. The apple originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan thousands of years ago, and was also a favorite fruit of Romans and Greeks.
  3. In Norse mythology, it was believed that eating a magic apple kept someone forever young.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.