Choosing the Right Apples (for what you want to do)

When you're buying apples, it's very important to choose varieties that are suited to your eating plans. Just snacking? Then any type is fine (particularly Red and Golden Delicious). Always look for apples that are well-colored and firm, with a fresh fragrance. If there's a dry, tan or brown-colored area on the skin, don't worry; this won't affect the flavor.

Apples should be stored in a cool dark place or refrigerated in a plastic bag; if possible, keep each apple separate during storage. They'll last longer.

If your aim is cooking, careful selection will yield the best results .Planning a pie? Go with the Rome Beauty; not only can it stand the heat, it'll retain its texture and taste. Actually, cooking and baking heightens the flavor of this variety. They can be used in: quick breads, pies, bread puddings, sauces, salads, soups and stews (in general, tart, firm apples are always best for baking). Other good options for baking are: Cortland, Northern Spy, Winesap and York Imperial. (cooked apples in general can be used with chicken, pork and vegetables like onions, potatoes and cabbage).

According to "The Food Lover's Tiptionary," a lightly greased muffin tin (or two) will provide great support for the apples while baking. To prevent cracked skins, cut a few shallow slits around the sides of the apple (to allow steam to escape). To reduce shrinkage, remove a small horizontal strip of peel fro around the middle.

Did You Know That.....

To prevent cut apples from browning, toss the slices with a citrus juice or dip them in a quart of cold water mixed with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or in lightly salted water. To make dried apple slices: Pare, core and cut into one-eighth-inch slices (follow the abovementioned tip to prevent darkening). Spread the slices on a tray (or trays) in a single layer. Dry in a 140-degree oven until the slices are bendable and creamy white.

Baking whole, unpeeled apples are a good way to retain some nutrients (most of the vitamins and minerals in apples tend to be in or right under the skin). Once they're baked, you can take out the core and fill them with brown sugar, raisins or honey (or something similar).

Here's a recipe that features apple butter, which is versatile enough for not only breakfast, but also side dishes, dinner and desserts:

Spiced Apple Cake with Orange Glaze

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup apple butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon orange peel

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and softened butter, then add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in the apple butter.

Pour into a greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

For an orange glaze, combine the powdered sugar, orange juice and orange peel. Spoon the glaze over warm cake.

For more recipes or to download a free e-recipe book, log on to www.musselmans.com.

Sources: "Choose the right variety for what you're making" by Carol J.G. Ward-Knight-Ridder Newspapers-The Vindicator, Oct. 22, 1997, "Apple dishes to share with family"-Family Features-The Vindicator, Oct. 7, 2015 and "Preserve apples for another day"-The Vindicator, October 16, 1990


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