All about apples
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is more than a cliché: It’s sound nutrition advice. Apples are a low-calorie snack that’s high in fiber and vitamin C. In addition, preliminary research indicates that apples may help to reduce the risk of colon, prostate and lung cancer.
More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States. About a dozen are available locally and this year, the harvest is especially bountiful. In fact, Dave Nading, Strawberry Point, thinks this might be his best yield since getting into the apple business 20 years ago.
“Last year, some of our trees were weakened by the drought so we weren’t sure what to expect this harvest season,” said Nading, who tends more than 600 trees. “But we’re seeing a big crop this year—one of the biggest ever.”
A bumper crop is also expected by Erling Bilden, Elgin, though he admits he had not basis for comparison. Bilden and his wife, Mary, started their orchard 10 years ago; this is the first year they’ll be selling their apples from their farmstead outside of Elgin.
“Last year the frost got them and the year before that it was hail,” he said. “This year, we’ve got plenty of apples.”
The Bildens tend 50 trees. They’ve already picked bushels of McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Gala and Empire apples. The Red Delicious and Cortlands will be ready soon.
“People have told me that Red Delicious get their best flavor after a light frost,” Bilden said. “But if they start falling, I’ll start picking.”
Nading’s apples are available exclusively at his convenience and sporting goods store in Strawberry Point. He grows Cortland, McIntosh, Sparta, Empire and Honeycrisp apples. He also has Macouns, which are his personal favorites. Supplies should be good through October.
Apples have a long shelf life and can be kept for several weeks if properly stored according to both Nading and Bilden. They recommend cool, constant temperatures. Basements are ideal. Nading added that there’s truth to the old adage that “one bad apple can spoil a whole bunch.”
“Before you put the apples away, toss out any that have bruises or cuts,” he said.
There are lots of ways to enjoy fresh apples. Out-of-hand eating is popular and so is apple pie.
“My sisters are excellent pie bakers and they mix two or three varieties,” Nading said. “They soften them in the microwave for a few minutes and then continue with their recipe.”
Erling offers another simple way to enjoy this ever-popular fruit.
“For a quick dessert, we like to core an apple, fill it with butter and brown sugar, soften in the microwave and then serve with ice cream.”
Here are two more ways to enjoy this year’s harvest. The recipe for apple brownies was provided by Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Nothey. If you have a favorite apple recipe, send it to use at email@example.com and we’ll share it on our Facebook page.
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
2 large apples, chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch baking dish with butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar and egg for two minutes. Add walnuts and apples; stir by hand. Add flour mixture and stir for 30 seconds. Spread batter in pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until golden brown.
Easy Apple Salad
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup plus 2 T. white vinegar
3 apples, cored and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced grapes
1 cup chopped walnuts
Mix together all ingredients except mayonnaise and vinegar. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo and vinegar until smooth. Gently fold dressing into the apple mixture. Place in a container, cover tightly, and store until ready to serve.
Note: Any firm, crisp apple variety can be used. For a festive touch, use a mixture of red and yellow apples.
By Pam Reinig, Register Editor