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Apple Cooking Tip

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The many varieties of apples differ widely in appearance, flesh characteristics, seasonal availability, and suitability for different uses.

For good eating as fresh fruit, the commonly available varieties are: Red Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Empire, and Golden Delicious. For making pies and applesauce, use tart or slightly acid varieties such as Gravenstein, Grimes Golden, Jonathan, and Newtown. My favorite is Gala apple.

For baking, the firmer fleshed varieties -- Rome Beauty, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Winesap, and York Imperial -- are widely used.

When purchasing fresh apples, look for:
Firm, crisp, well-colored apples. Flavor varies in apples, and depends on the stage of maturity at the time that the fruit is picked. Apples must be mature when picked to have a good flavor, texture, and storing ability. Immature apples lack color and are usually poor in flavor. They may have a shriveled appearance after being held in storage.

Most apples are marketed by grade, and consumer packages show the variety, the grade, and the size. U.S. grades for apples are: U.S. Extra Fancy, U.S. Fancy, U.S. No. 1, and combinations of these grades. U.S. Utility is a less desirable grade. Apples from the far Western States are usually marketed under State grades which are similar to the U.S. grades.

Avoid: Overripe apples (indicated by a yielding to slight pressure on the skin, and soft, mealy flesh) and apples affected by freeze (indicated by internal breakdown and bruised areas). Scald on apples (irregularly shaped tan or brown areas) may not seriously affect the taste.

When cooking fresh apples for pies or sauces, the yield is about 50%.

1 pound raw = 1/2 pound cooked.

Apples absorb odors. They emit ethylene gas, which causes other fruit to ripen quicker.

Store apples at 35 degrees F, 80% humidity to prevent dehydration.

Use tart apples for apple pie.

Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.

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