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An Apple a Day …

There’s truth behind the old saying

      Apple season’s harvest is August through November. Take advantage of fresh apples from many farmers markets or visit local Maryland orchards. 
     Apples have long been a symbol of good health and vitality. Studies have shown that the fruit can reduce the risk of heart disease and stop cancer cells from mutating. Apple skin contains a compound called quercetin that is a strong antioxidant, helping prevent harmful oxygen molecules from damaging individual cells. (Quercetin is also abundant in many herbs.)
      Apples come in a complete package with their ready-wrapped tasty skin. They are perhaps best known for their fiber content. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber, found mostly in the skin, is what we call roughage and has long been recommended to relieve constipation. Apples also contain a soluble fiber known as pectin. Pectin, the same ingredient in jams, forms a gel that slows digestion and slows the rise in blood sugar. Pectin also reduces the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.
      The most popular apple, Red Delicious, came from an Iowa farm of a Quaker named Jesse Hiatt. The tree was a sprout beneath a Yellow Bellflower apple. Hiatt saw the sprout and cut it down. It came back up, so he cut it down again. The apple sprouted a third time, which he took as some sort of sign. He let it grow. He called it the Hawkeye when it produced a sweet, crisp fruit.
      In 1893, he sent some samples to a Stark Bro’s Nursery contest, where it won. But info about the apple was misplaced. Fortunately, Hiatt entered the same fruit the following year. Then Clarence Stark recognized the apple and bought the rights from Hiatt, renaming it Delicious. The rest is history, as it is the most successful apple in the world.
      Apples come in many cultivars, each with its distinctive color, flavor, texture and range of other characteristics. Braeburn apples are sweet and tart. Fuji are crisp and sweet. Gala, with red stripes in yellow-orange skin, are crisp and sweet. Jonagolds are tangy and sweet, good for eating and baking. Northern Spy are tart and good for cooking and baking. Winesaps are spicy and tart and good for ciders and baking.
      Bake apples stuffed with honey, almonds and ginger for an easy dessert. Use four Fuji apples cored to within one-half inch from the bottom. Mix three-fourth cup chopped toasted almonds, one-fourth cup brown sugar, two tablespoons honey, one and one-half teaspoons grated lemon peel, one and one-quarter teaspoons ginger powder and one-half cup heavy cream. Pack the filling into the apples. Bake upright in a glass 8x8x2-inch pan with one-quarter cup apple juice in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
      Many apple varieties keep very well under refrigeration, so they are available year-round.