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Apples

IN THE November 19 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andContributors,
andFood Fun,
andMargaret Mendel
SECTIONS

by Margaret Mendel

What is better for your Thanksgiving dinner than a great apple dessert! Check out this great article on apples, some delicious apple recipes & get a coupon for Reedley Sandwich Shop!

In my mind fall is apple time. I grew up on a farm in Washington State and my most favorite thing to do in the fall was to sit in the old apple tree growing on the edge of our property when the apples came ripe. I would sit in a low-slung branch, bent like a welcoming arm and dream for hours about what I would do when I grew up. I looked into the branches overhead, listening to the gentle breeze rustling the leaves making them tickle the fat, red apples. Back then I believed anything was possible.

Now, in the fall I go to the farmer’s markets and the grocery store looking for the freshest apples. Though I still believe that the fall harvests produces the tastiest apples, perfectly delectable apples can be purchased year round due to the development of controlled-atmosphere chambers. Apples are stored in chambers with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide with high air filtration to stop the ethylene concentrations from rising too high. This ultimately prevents the ripening process. Once the apples are removed from this storage chamber, ripening continues once again at a normal pace.

Apple trees, native to Europe and West Asia, are believed to be the earliest tree to be cultivated, and were introduced to North America in the 17th Century. There are an estimated 7000 varieties of apples in the world today but only 100 varieties are grown commercially, with an approximately one billion pounds of apples produced yearly.

Did you know that apples are 25% air? That’s why they float when dropped into a bucket of water. There are tiny air pockets surrounding the cellular makeup of the apple and that’s why an apple floats. It is also these air pockets in the apple that makes a wonderful crunching sound when you first bite into a fresh picked apple. That crunch is actually the air pockets between the cells bursting as your teeth bite into the apple.

Apples turn brown once they have been sliced because of the enzymes contained in the fruit. To inhibit these enzymes, submerge the peeled or sliced apples in water or refrigerate them immediately. Cooler temperatures inhibit the enzymes that turn the exposed flesh of the apple brown. Or, squeeze lemon juice over the cut portions of the sliced fruit.

This fruit is a perfect food for dieters because the average apple contains only 80 calories. There is no cholesterol or fat to worry about and they are high in dietary fiber, vitamin A and niacin. Apples contain iron and other trace minerals and are a fairly good source of vitamin C.

Applesauce is an easy food to prepare, but because of the unique cell structure of the apple, this can be a tricky operation. If you want lumpy applesauce, or if you want cooked apples to retain their shape, cook them in sugar syrup. The sugar prevents the water from penetrating the cellular structure and breaking down the apple. When sugar is added before the apples have cooked, the apples will poach instead of stew. So, if you want an applesauce that has a smooth texture add the sugar after the apples have been cooked to the consistency that you desire.

This tasty fruit has quite a checkered mythical past and there are a few stories where the apple takes center stage. According to the bible, Adam and Eve were the first to taste this temping treat and forever made the apple symbolic of knowledge, immortality and temptation. In German mythology, apples were believe to be what gave the gods eternal youth. The Greeks used apples, known as love apples, to declare a suitor’s intentions of his or her love, and they also thought the apple represented deceit and treachery.

Then there is Snow White and the poison apple, William Tell who shot an apple off of his son’s head, and lets not forget Sir Isaac Newton and his bright ideas about gravity when he was hit in the head by an apple that had fallen from a tree.

I wonder what folklore will be in store for the apple in the coming centuries?

Here are a couple of apple recipes from my collection.

Apple Chutney

3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 pound (s) onions finely chopped
2 cup(s) seedless raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard seed, crushed
2 ounces fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (This is optional and depends on personal preference as to how much or how little you use, but the pepper flakes will give the chutney a kick.)
Combine all the ingredients and simmer over low heat. The chutney improves if it is cooked over very slow heat for a longer period of time. If you have the time, this recipe should simmer very gently on the stove all day. Otherwise, 3 hours should do it. Stir the mixture frequently as it begins to thicken. This will happen towards the end of the cooking time. Cool and either put the chutney into sterilized jars and seal or put in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. The chutney will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Grandma Faust’s Applesauce Nut Crumb Cake

Nut crumb mixture:
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter

Butter the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the buttered pan with the chopped nuts. Blend together the flour, sugar and butter and put this mixture over the chopped nuts. Set aside and prepare the cake.

Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins that have been dusted with a teaspoon of flour
1 cup warm apple sauce

Cream together the butter and sugar. Blend beaten eggs into the butter mixture and mix until light. Sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time to creamed mixture, alternating with the applesauce. Fold in raisins. Pour batter over nut, butter sugar mixture already in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour.

Why not treat yourself to a sandwich or cup of clam chowder after all of the Thanksgiving cooing!Print this coupon and take to the Reedley Sandwich Shop:

Margaret Mendel was born in San Jose and has a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of San Francisco & a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Currently residing in New York, she has had several short stories and articles published.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 thelma strawNo Gravatar November 19, 2011 at 7:31pm

I always seem to read these articles when I’m hungry! And your writing makes me want to try your recipes asap! When are we gong to read your book on all these wonderful foods??? tstraw

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2 NaloNo Gravatar November 19, 2011 at 11:50pm

Hello Margaret,

Thanks for the nice and details informations you deliver.
I live in Normandy-France where are growing a 300 apples varieties, some used to made three delicious alcohol: ‘Le cidre’, ‘Le Pommeau’ and ‘Le Calvados’.
I now have a better understanding on apple fascinating sound.

Congrats,

Nalo.
A recent post from Nalo: L’endormiMy Profile

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3 Eric ParkerNo Gravatar
Twitter: @ericpsarangi
November 21, 2011 at 5:25pm

excellent article as always Margaret – I loved your image of sitting in the tree as a kid and daydreaming – lovely
eric
A recent post from Eric Parker: On the Street – TorontoMy Profile

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