Ask Chef Hosch and Ann
By CHEF HOSCH and ANN
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Q: Chef, do you have any suggestions for healthy cooking with apples? What is the best variety to cook with? Where can I find fresh apples in our area?
A: Apples are a naturally nutritious, healthy food; they are high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, pectin, flavonoids and potassium. All this for about 60 calories in an average sized apple. Apples are not just for dessert. They are a versatile ingredient, suitable for savory or sweet recipes. Typically high fat, calorie laden recipes can be adapted for healthy eating or allergy free cooking.
There are about 2,500 varieties of apples grown today but crabapples are the only variety native to the United States. Apples, and the honeybees to pollinate them, arrived in stages with the early American colonists during the 17th century. The first apple orchard on the North American continent was planted in Boston in 1625. And there really was a Johnny Appleseed. His real name was John Chapman, an eccentric nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and parts of West Virginia.
Currently, the United States is the second largest producer of commercial apples worldwide. Washington State produces 60 percent of the commercial apple crop, but New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia also are top producers.
Red Delicious is the most widely grown apple in the United States but there are many more varieties to choose from. Even though you won’t find anywhere near 2,500 different kinds of apples at your local grocery store, there are about 20 popular varieties grown in Pennsylvania. My motto is, “Fresh is best,” so take advantage of the apples fresh from the orchards right here in our state. For a list of Farmers’ Markets and Selling Farmers in our area compiled by MFHS (Maternal and Family Health Services Inc.) visit www.mfhs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/LYCOMING.pdf or visit our Facebook page for the link.
Cooking and eating apples
Apples can be loosely categorized as cooking apples or eating apples. The categories overlap because some apples are multi-purpose -suitable for both cooking and eating.
The main difference between eating apples and cooking apples is the sugar content. Eating apples are sweeter, often larger and crisper than apples earmarked for cooking. Eating apples go well in fruit salads or on fruit and cheese trays.
Cooking with apples
For baking (pies, cobblers and crisps) choose an apple with a firm flesh that does not break down during baking. If you are halving and baking the apple, it is even more important that the flesh retains its shape. For sauces and butters, an apple with softer flesh that will cook down is a better choice. The following list will give you an idea of the best apples to use for different kinds of cooking. Some of the multi-purpose apples show up on more than one list.
Sauces: Braeburn, Jonathon, Winesap, McIntosh Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Gravenstein.
Baking: Fuji, Jonagold, Braeburn, Cortland, Winesap, Granny Smith and Rome Beauty.
Eating and Salads: Cortland, Golden Delicious, Empire, Gala, Red Delicious, Fuji, Winesap, Criterion, Jonathan, Cameo, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Braeburn, Pink Lady.
Pies: Cortland, Jonagold, Winesap Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Pippin, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Gravenstein.
Following are three healthy recipes using fresh apples.
1 cup each of three different varieties of apple (cooking or eating apples)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 medium onion
Dash of cinnamon
1/4 cup of white wine (Riesling or Chardonnay)
4 tablespoons honey
Dice cored apples, onion, red and yellow peppers (medium dice) Saute lightly in olive oil. Turn off heat. Add apples, dash of cinnamon, white wine and honey. Stir until mixed.
Let mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a small saucepan or microwave. Top grilled pork chops, roasted pork or grilled chicken breast. Make this recipe without the wine as a topping for pancakes or French toast instead of syrup.
Sugar free apple butter
6 cups peeled and cubed sauce apples (two or three varieties)
1/2 cup apple cider or 100 percent apple juice
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 10-12 hours. If you prefer a pureed texture, use a stick mixer or blender after the apple butter has cooled.
Gluten free apple crisp
4 cups cored and sliced Jonagold apples
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of quick tapioca
Mix all ingredients together and place in a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray or rubbed lightly with butter.
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup gluten free granola
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2tablespoons melted butter
Mix together all ingredients. Mixture will be dry. Spread over apples. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Chef Hosch and Ann’s column prints on the first Wednesday of each month.
Submit comments, experiences and cooking questions to Chef Hosch and Ann by email to email@example.com or call 850-9843. Like their Facebook page at Chef Hosch & Ann Catering Inc. for their latest cooking tips, recipes and videos.