A&E Fall Produce Guide: Apples

How to pick the right apples, why you should be consuming more of them, and what to make with them.

Photo+of+apples+captured+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+5.

Ethan Fine

Photo of apples captured on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Sophia Zimmerman

Ah, autumn; a season best characterized by the crunch of colorful leaves, the inevitable collective wardrobe shift, the muted orange of warm pumpkin spice lattes and the season’s true star, the apple. They come in a variety of shapes and forms: tart and crisp, soft and sweet, mild and mealy.

While you’ll find them in grocery stores year-round, peak apple season is in the fall. From the beginning of September through the end of November, they are at their ripest. They are all at their ideal time for flavor and eating experience as they haven’t spent much time in storage and off the tree in the fall, according to James Luby, professor in the Department of Horticulture Science at the University of Minnesota.

“When the color of an apple is just breaking from yellow to green, that’s when they’re at their best,” Luby said.

When it comes to selecting the right piece of produce, personal preference is what it ultimately comes down to. Some like their apples with a bit of bite, like the Gala apple. Others tend to reach for the softer kind, like the McIntosh apple. The beauty of Minnesota is that there is a wide breadth of apple varieties to select from. Almost 30 apple varieties have been released since the University’s apple breeding program began, according to the Minnesota Hardy webpage.

“Gone are the days of Red Delicious,” said University of Minnesota apple breeder David Bedford, speaking to the plethora of apples available in the state. According to Bedford, who is responsible for tasting anywhere from 500-600 apples per day, the one variety you can’t go wrong with choosing is the Honeycrisp apple.

Developed at the University of Minnesota, the Honeycrisp apple is seemingly as good as it can get, according to Bedford. Not only is the texture on point, but the flavor is too. They’re crisp, sweet and just tart enough, which explains how the variety secured its spot as one of the most-grown apples in the United States, according to Luby.

“If you don’t know how to eat an apple, where have you been all your life?” Bedford said jokingly, speaking of the fruit’s convenience. Consuming an apple really is as simple as giving it a quick rinse and sinking your teeth in at your earliest convenience.

Apples are more than a convenient snack. In fact, they pack quite the nutritional punch. According to Luby, apples contain a multitude of nutrients that work to nourish the human gut microbiome. Their fiber content is relatively high and so are the beneficial compounds found within their skins.

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy apples this fall, consider one of the following recipes as opposed to simply grabbing one of the mundane Red Delicious apples often found in the dining halls.

For those stuck in a living situation without access to a full kitchen, try these apple nachos courtesy of TikTok user Hannah Jarrah. Jarrah’s recipe calls for ingredients most students can get access to in some shape or form with minimal effort.

Ingredients:

1-2 apples
½ cup granola of choice
1-2 tbsp. peanut butter
Drizzle of honey
1-2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Slice apples thinly and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with peanut butter, sprinkle on granola, shake on cinnamon and finish with a bit of honey on top.

For those with access to a kitchen, try these baked apples inspired by the blog Love and Lemons. The coconut oil takes the place of butter used in a traditional apple crisp and the oat flour can be made using the already called-for rolled oats and a quick blitz in the blender.

Ingredients:

4 apples
½ cup + 2 tbsp. whole rolled oats
½ cup oat flour
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ tsp. sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Combine oats, oat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and coconut oil. Add water until the mixture starts to clump together.

Cut apples in half, and use a spoon to scoop out the center of each half. Arrange side-by-side in a baking dish and rub with melted coconut oil. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes.

Uncover and fill with the oat topping. Make sure to pack it in tightly before drizzling with more coconut oil. Bake for 20 more minutes, checking periodically for signs of browning and softness in the apples. Let cool, and serve with ice cream if desired.