It’s November, and we are celebrating apples!

Did you know:  In Greek mythology, apples were associated with the healing god Apollo, who was said to be able to heal diseases. Maybe this is the source for the our saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Apple history: The apple tree originated in Western Asia.  Apples are one of the most popular tree fruits in the world with more than 55 million tons of apples grown worldwide. China produces more apples than any other country; the United States is the next highest producer. The apple dates back in history to religious texts, often as an irresistible treat that causes a lot of trouble, the most famous may be the apple that resulted in the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament.

Why apples are great: Apples have so many wonderful health benefits we may not have room to list them all here! Apples have phytonutrients, which help regulate blood sugar.  They also support the good bacteria in the digestive tract and help with digestion. Thanks to apple’s water-soluble fiber (pectin) content and their mix of nutrients, apples are great for our cardiovascular system. Apples are high in quercetin, a plant derived compound that give us anti-inflammatory benefits. Apples have tons of vitamin C, which helps build up our immune system and ward off colds.  All those benefits in one sweet, crunchy, widely available snack! 

Apples are harvested in New York mid-August to late October. New York ranks second in apple production behind Washington State in the US.  With nearly 700 apple orchards and 41,000 acres of apple trees, New York typically produces an average of one billion pounds of apples every year.  Apple picking is a great family outing in the fall season!

There are many ways to enjoy eating apples.  A simple baked apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon makes an easy, healthy dessert.  A raw apple spread with nut butter is a quick, delicious snack. Instead of the usual Cole slaw for a side dish, simply combine cabbage and apples for apple slaw. Eat the peel! Apple peels have tons of fiber and lots of antioxidants that are great for us. Do give your apple a scrub though – soap and water is great.

How to pick a great apple? You want an apple that is firm to the touch and full of color. Avoid soft or brown spots.  A more round apple, typical of the green variety, can be a little more flavorful than the elongated types. In the coldest part of your refrigerator, apples will hold for over a month! Apples that are starting to get soft can be baked into pie or bread, or stewed as a topping for pancakes.