A Versatile, Portable and Multi-Purpose Food

Chef Holding an Apple

When it comes to an all-around useful food, it's hard to beat an apple. With about 125 calories, apples contain many healthy nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Apples can be eaten "as is" for a quick refreshing fruit treat, used raw in a salad or cooked in either a sweet or savory dish. The versatility of the popular fruit makes it an ideal addition to one's breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or dessert. The well-known healthy effects proverb "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" can be traced to 19th century Wales.

Possibly the first cultivated tree, apples trees are generally propagated by grafting (rootstock), although larger wild apple trees grow readily from seed. Until the 20th century, apple farmers stored their crops for their own use in frostproof cellars during the winter months. Today's controlled atmosphere storage areas keep apples fresh and available in stores year-round. Since apples do not breed true when planted as seeds, grafting is used to plant new orchards. Popular varieties in the U.S. include:

Fuji - Red and yellow in color, these firm, sweet apples are often eaten raw.

Gala - Red with yellow throughout, these crisp, sweet apples are juicy raw treats.

Golden Delicious - Light yellow in color, these sweet, crisp apples are good for cooking but also make a healthy snack.

Granny Smith - Green in color, Granny Smith's are very crispy and both firm and tart making them ideal for baked goods.

McIntosh - Deep red in color, these tart, juicy and soft-textured apples are ideal for making applesauce.

Red Delicious - Shiny dark red apples that is one of the most popular varieties eaten raw.

Rome - Bright red in color with firm, tart fruit, Rome apples are best for baking.

In most varieties, the whole fruit can be eaten raw and both the meat and skin are suitable for human consumption. Apples seeds can cause stomach upset if consumed in quantity and generally should be avoided. Apples can be baked or stewed, used in meat dishes, dried and eaten, or reconstituted for later use. Both applesauce and apple butter are popular food products as well as a apple cider which is can be distilled as an alcoholic beverage or fermented as vinegar. 


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