How do you like them ap­ples?

New va­ri­eties breath­ing life into world’s old­est fruit

Grand Magazine - - FOOD - Charmian Christie

We think of ap­ples as a sim­ple fruit, but their roots run deep into our past. For more than 3,000 years, civ­i­liza­tions around the world have grown and val­ued ap­ples. They’ve worked their way into our lan­guage and our imag­i­na­tions.

Do you like things in ap­ple-pie or­der or are you more likely to tip over the ap­ple cart? Does a bright red ap­ple con­jure up thoughts of se­duc­tion or a sen­ti­men­tal gift for a favourite teacher?

With new va­ri­eties breath­ing life into the world’s old­est fruit, ap­ples are as rel­e­vant to­day as they were three mil­len­nia ago.

On­tario ap­ples

In au­tumn, head to the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket to dis­cover small-yield ap­ples. Act quickly and you might be lucky enough to take home some lemon-kissed Gin­ger Gold or flo­ral Ma­couns.

At the gro­cery store you’ll find up to 16 va­ri­eties of On­tario ap­ples. Look for Am­brosia, Cort­land, Crispin (a.k.a. Mutsu), Empire, Fuji, Gala, Golden De­li­cious, Hon­ey­crisp, Idared, Jon­agold, McIn­tosh, North­ern Spy, Red De­li­cious, Red Prince, Rus­set and Spar­tan.

Did I for­get to men­tion Granny Smith? No. They’re only avail­able as im­ports since they re­quire a longer, warmer grow­ing sea­son than On­tario pro­vides. If you want a lo­cal sub­sti­tute, the Crispin is On­tario’s true green ap­ple, but won’t im­i­tate a Granny Smith’s flavour. If you’re look­ing for a firm ap­ple with a bright tart taste, opt for a Rus­set.

Com­par­ing ap­ples to ap­ples

There’s no such thing as a typ­i­cal ap­ple. Flavours range from sweet to tart. Sub­tle ap­ple un­der­tones are de­scribed as cit­rusy, flo­ral and even spicy. Toss in tex­tures rang­ing from bend-your-braces firm to don’t-squeeze-too-hard ten­der, and the sim­ple ap­ple be­comes quite com­plex. Given their di­ver­sity, no one ap­ple does it all.

So, what ap­ple should you choose? That de­pends on how you’re go­ing to eat it. This handy chart will help you de­ter­mine which ap­ple is best for your next meal or snack.

Buy­ing

Re­gard­less of va­ri­ety, look for firm, smooth-skinned ap­ples. Avoid ap­ples with wrin­kled skin or bruises. You can of­ten buy bags of less-than-per­fect ap­ples some­times la­belled “Nat­u­rally Im­per­fect.” They have the same taste and nu­tri­tion as their flaw­less coun­ter­parts, but might be smaller or un­evenly shaped. They cost less, so are a good op­tion if you’re cook­ing or bak­ing.

Stor­ing

Ap­ples like cold and hu­mid con­di­tions. For best re­sults, store your ap­ples in per­fo­rated plas­tic bags in your re­frig­er­a­tor crisper. Some peo­ple put a glass of wa­ter be­side them or mist them with wa­ter as an ex­tra mea­sure. Just don’t wash them (yet), or leave them on the counter for more than a few days.

As your ap­ple stash di­min­ishes, keep an eye out for bruises and soft spots. Over­ripe or bruised ap­ples emit eth­yl­ene gas which speeds up ripen­ing. Any ap­ples (or other fruits and veg­eta­bles) nearby will ripen too quickly and spoil.

If you find an ap­ple with a soft spot, trim it out. The rest of the ap­ple is per­fectly good, so eat it, sliver it into sal­ads, or fire up the oven.

If you aren’t go­ing to use it right away, sprin­kle the ex­posed fruit with lemon juice to pre­vent brown­ing.

Wash­ing

Ap­ples ar­rive at the store washed and pol­ished with an ed­i­ble “wax.” Steve Martin of Martin’s Family Fruit Farm in Water­loo says this pro­tec­tive coat­ing is mis­un­der­stood.

“The in­dus­try term is ‘wax’ but the con­sumer thinks ‘floors’ or ‘tur­tles’,” he says. The wax has been around in some form or other for about 100 years, and re­mains a nec­es­sary part of ap­ple pro­cess­ing.

Since all ap­ples must be washed to re­move bac­te­ria, the wax en­sures your ap­ples stay fresh and beau­ti­ful until you’re ready to eat them.

To wash an ap­ple, just use clean, run­ning wa­ter, and the fric­tion of your hand. No need for spe­cial de­ter­gents.

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