Apples are members of the rose family that have been cultivated around the world for almost 3,000 years. Not native to the Americas, apples were first brought to this country by early colonists, who recorded the first apple tree planting in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. Early settlers made their apples into hard cider since the fruit could not be kept year-round. Today, there are more than 7,000 varieties of apples. Since each apple seed will grow into a unique tree that often yields undesirable fruit, all apples we commonly eat are varieties that have been selected and grafted for their taste. In the Northeast, the height of the season is from September to November; during other months, they are kept in cold-storage facilities in low-oxygen environments that prevent them from ripening and enable us to enjoy their sweet flavor all year long.
* Many apples will stay fresh for up to three months when stored in a bag in the back of a fridge drawer -- a cold, high-humidity spot that mimics the cold-storage facilities described above. Late varieties (harvested near or after late October) can store even longer.
* Pete Ten Eyck says the best pies and sauce are made by mixing a softer apple with a firmer one. Soft varieties include Empire, Rome, McIntosh, Gala and Cortland, while Zestar, Autumn Crisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Mustu (Crispin) are more firm.
RECIPE of the week:
Try these roasted apples on top of frozen yogurt and sprinkled with granola or chopped walnuts for a delicious dessert.
* 10 cooking apples, such as Gala, Golden Delicious or Rome Beauty, washed, unpeeled
* 2-3 T. grapeseed or olive oil
* 3-4 lemons, squeezed
* 2 T. cinnamon
* 1-2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
* 1 T. vanilla extract (optional)
* 2-3 T. agave syrup
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and toss with lemon juice in a large bowl. Add spices, vanilla extract and agave, and toss again.
3. Coat a large baking pan with oil. Transfer apples to pan, arranging in a single layer.
4. Roast, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until apples are tender and golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
5. If needed, add more agave for taste. Enjoy!