Apples; so plentiful, so versatile and so healthy

Michigan’s bountiful apple harvest provides a terrific time to stock up on different varieties of delicious, nutritious apples to make your favorite fall recipes.

The bountiful apple crop for 2013 is a busy and exciting time for Michigan’s 850 family-run orchards.  It is no small task taking care of Michigan’s 9.2 million apple trees which are projected to produce over 900 million pounds of apples this season, according to Michigan State University Extension.  The versatility and cost of apples makes them a wise economic choice and a delicious healthy fruit for people of all ages.

Michigan’s orchards yield over 20 varieties of apple, with each variety delivering its own unique taste, texture and various shelf life.  This season’s bumper crop is a welcome sight after last year’s apple was crop was devastated by late frosts.  However a massive harvest creates an immediate need for careful apple storage.  MSU researchers are busy assisting apple growers in Michigan to capitalize on successful apple storage.  Successful and prolonged storage allows apple growers to steadily distribute their apples rather than all at once, and allows consumers to enjoy months of eating nutritous full flavored apples.

Apples are so versatile in their usage.  Apple recipes abound featuring baking, cooking, making jelly, sauces and even drying. Different apple varieties ripen throughout August, September and October allowing young and old alike to enjoy their favorites.  Baked apple chips are a simple way to serve apples and add a new fun ingredient to salads, or snacks. 

Baked Apple Chips
4 large apples
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Slice apples horizontally into very thin rounds, leave the peel on and remove any seeds.

Combine cinnamon and sugar.  Lay slices on parchment paper on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. 

Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, then flip apple slices and bake one more hour.

Apple chips will continue to crisp up as they cool.

(Source: American Institute for Cancer Research)

The health benefits of eating fruit are proven and MSU Extension encourages adults to eat one and half cups of fruit each day. Whether large, small, green, red, tart sweet, tangy or sour, Michigan’s apple selection is sure to please even the most finicky eater, and help you achieve your daily fruit consumption.  Apples are low calorie, averaging about 80 calories; contain fiber, flavonoids and antioxidants.  The next time you buy a Michigan apple remember you are helping to support one of Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crops.

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