Easy ways to cook with apples

(AP Photo/Bill Ryan)

October 12, 2010 10:00:13 AM PDT
There's nothing sweeter than a fresh-picked apple from a Michigan orchard. Apples are one of the most versatile foods, complimenting any meal from pancakes for breakfast, and pork chops for dinner. And did you know there are more than 15 different varieties of Michigan apples? Chef Paul Penny from "Aussi in the Kitchen" is sharing some of his favorite Michigan Apple recipes.

APPLE FACTS:

  • The summer heat is resulting in one of the earliest Michigan Apple harvests in recent memory.
  • Because apples trees are deeply rooted, they are able to survive long periods without rain even in the hot, dry weather we've experienced in August. The heat increases sugar levels in the fruit, resulting in extra juicy, sweet apples.
  • Michigan is projected to produce 15.5 million bushels of apples, or more than 650 million pounds of apples this year. Apples are Michigan's largest and most valuable fruit crop.
  • APPLE DIFFERENCES:

    Most popular Michigan apples include: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Gala.

    The Honeycrisp variety continues to grow in popularity. Honeycrisp has a crisp, juicy bite and a sweet flavor. They are best for fresh eating and also a great addition to salads.

    VARIETY \ TASTE & TEXTURE \ USES

    Braeburn \ Mildly Sweet and Crispy \ Fresh, Baked
    Empire \ Combo Sweet and Tart \ Fresh, Baked
    Fuji \ Sweet and Crunchy \ Fresh, Baked
    Gala \ Sweet and Crunchy \ Fresh, Baked
    Ginger \ Gold Sweet-Spicy and Firm \ Fresh
    Golden Delicious \ Sweet and Firm \ Fresh, Baked
    Honeycrisp \ Sweet, Crisp and Juicy \ Fresh
    Ida Red \ Tart, Firm and Juicy \ Fresh, Baked
    Jonagold \ Sweet, Firm and Juicy \ Fresh, Baked
    Jonathan \ Sweet-Spicy \ Fresh, Baked
    McIntosh \ Sweet-Tart and Juicy \ Fresh, Baked
    Paula Red \ Sweet-Tart and Juicy \ Fresh, Baked
    Red Delicious \ Sweet, Juicy and Crunchy \ Fresh
    Rome \ Mildly Tart and Juicy \ Fresh, Baked

    Easy Ways to Serve Apples:

  • Beverages or smoothies - Warm, spiced cider or a Fall Harvest Smoothie
  • Apple Muffins - Add warm apple flavor to your favorite muffin or bread recipe - it's easy!
  • Cake -Swap the usual oil for applesauce using a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 1 cup applesauce instead.
  • Apple salsa - Add a finely chopped apple to a jar of your favorite salsa.
  • Yogurt parfait -Make your own by layering chopped apples, plain or flavored yogurt and low-fat cinnamon granola in a glass.

    MICHIGAN APPLE ORCHARDS:

    Local Orchards for Chicagoans
    Here are some Michigan apple orchards that are an easy drive from the Chicago area:

  • Jollay Orchards - Coloma, MI (kid-friendly: hay rides, petting zoo, etc) http://www.jollayorchards.com/
  • Tree-Mendus Fruit - Eau Claire, MI (U-Pick) www.treemendus-fruit.com
  • Stovers U-Pick and Farm Market - Berrien Springs, MI
  • Michigan Apples & Travel Michigan Website
    For information on recipes, apple varieties, festivals visit michiganapples.com and to plan your next Michigan weekend getaway, check out michigan.org.

    ABOUT PAUL PENNEY:
    Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Chef Paul developed a taste for great food at a young age. He recalls that his father "would create the most wonderful breakfasts on the weekend" and encourage the young cook to do likewise. He'd watch and learn, as his mother would skillfully prepare traditional recipes for the family. Jump forward many years and several careers later; Chef Paul has arrived at his all-time passion?cooking and his love of food! He traded his CEO hat for a toque!

    His travels have taken him to many countries around the world during the last 25+ years, and his curiosity for sampling exotic new foods and cuisine during those times has educated him well in international cuisine


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