For those of you who enjoy apples grown in this region, your time has officially arrived. Apples are ready to go.
There are plenty of varieties of apples available in South Carolina and North Carolina. I often get questions about which varieties are good for cooking and which are good for snacking.
Here’s a checklist to keep handy for some of the most common varieties for when you’re ready to make your trek to the orchards this year.
For snacking raw: Red Delicious, Gala, Jonagold
For general use: Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp
For cooking: Arkansas Black, Rome, Stayman, Granny Smith
Having apples in the fridge for snacking is a must for plenty of homes. And that’s a great idea. One medium apple provides about 80 calories and three grams of fiber. They will stay fresh in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for weeks, so buying several pounds of apples is a great option for your family if you have the cold storage space.
Sometimes folks like an alternative to plain jane apples when they’re enjoying their snack. Try some of these healthy (and tasty) possibilities the next time your crowd reaches for a snack.
• Chop it and dunk it. Core the apple and chop it into large pieces, leaving the peel on. Stir together a super easy dip made from low fat vanilla yogurt and cinnamon.
• Slice and smear. Core the apple and slice into thick horizontal rounds. Spread each slice thinly with peanut butter or almond butter or hazelnut spread.
• Companion foods. Chop the apple into bite size portions and add cheese cubes and grapes. These three flavors taste great together. Pre-portion this chunky trio into small zip top bags for easy grab and go snacks from the fridge.
The other great idea for apples is to make apple butter. Apple butter is sweet and heavy with cinnamon and nutmeg. When it is slathered onto toast, pancakes or biscuits, this aromatic spread requires serious self-restraint.
One of my recent jam making classes made apple butter. Today, I have included the recipe used by the students in that class. It creates a product that is rosy-brown. The group was very pleased with the flavor outcome, to say the least.
6 pounds apples
2 quarts cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Wash, core, peel and chop apples. Place prepared apples and cranberry juice cocktail into large sauce pot. Cook until apples are soft. Remove apples from juice and either run through food mill or food processor until apples are pureed but not liquefied.
Combine apple puree, sugar and spices in a large saucepan and cook until thick enough to round up on spoon. As mixture thickens, stir often to prevent sticking.
Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Remove any air bubbles, wipe jar rims, adjust two-piece lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Yield: about 6 pints.
Source: Ball Blue Book.