Tips & Tricks: Determining an Apple’s Freshness and Other Apple Awesomeness

Washington is apple country, but you knew that.Apples

I should elaborate. Eastern Washington is apple country with its warmer and arid climate, but those of us in cool and soggy Western Washington tend to latch onto the apple image anyway.

Apples are one of my favorite fruits (and baking ingredients), but I really don’t go for an old, mealy apple.

Apples are harvested once a year and stored in cold storage (to prevent the ethylene they emit from rotting them), then brought out over the course of the winter until the next harvest. This is just the nature of produce, of course. We expect year-round availability of our favorite fruits and vegetables.

For the most part, apples hold up pretty well in cold storage. They’re one of the few things I buy out of season that can still taste pretty good.

I’m sure you know how to pick an apple – buy apples that are firm, not bruised and smell like an apple. But, beyond those items, do you know how to tell if an apple is fresh?

There is a simple trick: Flip it over and look at the base. If the blossom is closed tightly, it’s fresh. If it’s opened up, it’s not. As the apple gets older, the blossom opens up.


Some Other Apple Tidbits

  • Store apples in the fridge in a plastic bag to keep them from making everything around them ripe; Ideal storage temps are between 33-40 degrees
  • On the other hand, if you need help making tomatoes or other produce ripe, place them in a brown bag with an apple. The ethylene gas emitted  by the apple will ripen the other produce.
  • The fiber in apples helps keep you full. If you have a craving for something sweet, eat an apple. The craving will go away and you’ll stay full for some time. Some people think eating an apple before dinner helps them eat less – perhaps a good trick to try before dinner parties where you might be tempted to over-indulge.
  • Applesauce makes a great substitute for butter in baked goods. I have subbed up to 50% applesauce for butter in oatmeal cookies with great success.
  • The easiest way to make your own applesauce is to chop an apple into bits, put in a bowl, add a splash of water, heat for 3 minutes in the microwave, and then blend in your blender or food processor.
  • An apple corer makes awesome home fries. Use it to cut potatoes easily into wedges (you will have an odd shaped fry from the coring process, though)
  • And, lest we forget, apple+peanut butter = best snack ever.

And, so ends our apple update. Speaking of fruit, I hope your weekend is just peachy.

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