Fall brings us the vibrant colors of red, orange, yellow in the leaves! I love this time of year to go hiking in the woods and enjoy the weather outside. One of the other joys of the change in season is the availability of local apples and other local food grown in the fall. We are fortunate in Western North Carolina to have a number of orchards to visit with a large variety of apples to choose from including heirloom ones. We also have several here farmers who grow their apples using organic methods. When you buy local apples, ask how the apples were grown.
We have all heard the old saying “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”! Here is some nutrition information on apples: they are rich in vitamin C, B, fiber and a polyphenol called quercetin which is a powerful antioxidant. During normal body functioning we sometimes are left with some undesirable by-products that sometimes linger and antioxidants help protect us from the damage that they can cause. Food and how it works inside our bodies is pretty amazing!
Apples come in different colors, textures and flavors which include pink, red, green and yellow, crunchy, crisp and soft, sweet and tart. Some apples are better for cooking and baking while others are best eaten raw. I love the more tart crisp apples but when all varieties are picked fresh off the tree-they all taste delicious! Apples are best tasting when they are local and in season. There are early season apples which includes Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Johnagold, Cameo, middle season which includes Fuji, Granny Smith, Rome, Mitsu and later season which includes Pink Lady, Gold Rush, Staymen Winsap and Arkansas Black. A few apples were known as “keeper apples”, these were the apples which lasted through part of the winter.
Varieties of apples that are great for eating raw include Gala, Honey Crisp, Mitsu, Granny Smith, Fuji, Ruby Hampshire, Golden Delicious, Early Fuji, Cameo, Ginger Gold, Candy Crisp, Ambrosia, Gold Rush, Mackintosh, and Johnathon.
Apples that work well for baking and cooking include Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Early Delicious, Ambrosia, Mitsu, Cameo, Staymen Winsap, Rome, Arkansas Black, Ruby Hampshire, Mackintosh, Golden Rush, Pink Lady and Johnathon.
Like most growing season of fruits and vegetables, apple season will be over soon so eat them while they are fresh and tasty! Preserve some for later by making apple sauce, apple butter and apple jelly! Apples can also be canned and applesauce can be frozen. I have included some of my favorite plant based recipes using apples , I hope that you try one or all three!
Sassy Apple Salsa
When the tomatoes are gone from the garden and the farmers’ markets and there is no more pico de gallo, try some fresh, colorful apple salsa for a change of pace!
Makes 12 servings at 1/4 cup each
2 cups diced tart, crisp apple
1/2 cup diced red or green bell pepper
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup diced red or yellow onion
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
Mix the apples, peppers, onions, salt and honey in a bowl. Serve with corn chips or even your favorite Mexican supper!
Sausage, Apple and Cabbage Skillet
This quick, healthy meal is a staple at my family’s house all fall and winter when I can get all the ingredients local!
Makes 4-6 servings.
1 medium head cabbage
1 small onion
2 tart cooking apples
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice onions thin and sausage in diagonal slices. Saute in onions and sausage in a large skillet, using a little olive oil until sausage has browned and the onions have started to get translucent. Add apples and let them soften slightly. Add cabbage and 1/3 cup oil. Turn down low and add a lid to steam. Stir all the ingredients together every 5 minutes so cabbage can soften and the other ingredients do not overcook. Serve in a bowl for a complete meal or on a plate with a few steamed small potatoes or even a side of baked sweet potato fries. My picture shows them with the last of my home grown tomatoes on the plate!
My favorite holiday salad uses apples!
Fall Apple Salad
This is one of my favorite recipes for a holiday meal. The red, green and white just makes me want to celebrate! I hope that it makes you want to also!
Makes 2 servings.
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1-2 table spoon dried cranberries or cherries
1/8 cup blue cheese
Your choice of locally grown greens or spinach
Basalmic Salad Dressing
In a bowl or small plate, add a small layer of salad greens. Top with apple, red onion, blue cheese, walnuts and cranberries. Drizzle with salad dressing.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I love teaching clients about the benefits of eating nutrition and share delicious, easy ways to do it with some healthy food recipes! Eating in season and focusing on local is a tasty way to do it and support your local economy too! You also might want to check out my Kale Cabbage Apple Slaw !