“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Apples are not only delicious but full of nutrients. They are a great source of fiber, potassium and are low in calories. The average person eats 65 apples a year.

Apple season begins in late August and lasts through November. Apples are best and cheapest in the fall months. Pick the apples that feel heavy for their size, are firm to the touch and have some shine to them. Always avoid apples with soft spots and bruises.

Apples should be stored in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator rather than out at room temperature in a fruit bowl. Apples float because 25% of their volume is water. They are a member of the rose family, along with pears, peaches, plums and cherries. Apple trees are 4 to 5 years old before they produce apples. The largest apple ever picked weighed 3 pounds and 2 ounces.

Pomology is the study of growing fruit, such as apples. In colonial times, they were called winter bananas. There are over 100 varieties of apples grown in orchards all over America. The most commonly available are McIntosh, Golden and Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji and Gala.

Some apples work well for baking and making applesauce. Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Cortland and Granny Smith are great all-purpose apples that can be used for anything, including just making a great snack.

Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonagold and McIntosh apples are considered to be sweeter apples. Tart apple varieties are Granny Smith, Empire and Cortland. Red Delicious apples are the most popular in the United States, followed by Golden Delicious.

I hope you will give these apple recipes a try. Thanks for reading.

FRESH APPLE CAKE

3 cups flour

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1½ cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups peeled, diced apples

1 large carrot, grated (optional)

1 cup chopped pecans

Sift together all dry ingredients. Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla. Add apples, carrot and pecans, and mix well (batter will be very thick). Pour into a greased and floured Bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove and cool on a wire cooling rack. When cool, transfer to a serving plate and cover with icing. (This cake is also good without icing.)

Icing:

1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar

½ cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients together, and pour over cake. You may want to add a little apple juice if it is not the right consistency.

APPLE RAISIN FRENCH TOAST BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup butter, melted

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup raisins

1 (1-pound) loaf French baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1½ cups milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add melted butter, apples and raisins. Stir until coated, and pour into prepared pan. Arrange bread slices in an even layer over apples. Mix together eggs, vanilla, milk and 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and pour over bread, making sure all bread slices are soaked. Cover with foil, and refrigerate overnight. Before baking, remove casserole from refrigerator and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake covered for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let stand minutes before serving.

MAMA’S MINI APPLESAUCE MUFFINS

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cloves

1 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and mix. Mix all dry ingredients, and add to creamed mixture. Add applesauce, vanilla and pecans. Spray mini muffin tins with Pam, and spoon mixture into pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Turn muffins out, and roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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