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Apples are one of my favorite fruits. I make apple sauce, apple crisp, apple turnovers and apple cake with MacIntosh, Cortland or Cameo apples every fall.

There are so many apple varieties and apple colors: red, green, yellow and multicolored apples.

Different varieties of apples grow in the northern US states, mostly in regions that have cold winters and reasonably cool summers.

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Acres of apple orchards dot the states of Washington, New York and most of the New England states plus you can find apple orchards in Pennsylvania, Ohio and some parts of Michigan.

My favorite apples come from New England - there's something in the soil or the air that produces the best MacIntosh apples I've ever tasted.

All apple varieties are great to pack for lunches or to slice and serve with cheese wedges for a healthy snack.

What is your favorite apple variety?

My lifelong favorite apple has been the MacIntosh, followed by Cortland as a close second. Many people prefer the harder Delicious apple varieties.

Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples are popular eating varieties with crisp skin and sweet flesh. Cameo apples are a newer variety that I really enjoy. They're sweeter and juicier than the Delicious varieties.

For cooking, most bakers prefer an apple that's slightly tart, for example: MacIntosh, Gala, Cameo, Braeburn, Jonathan, the or shiny green and very crisp Granny Smith. Each one will cook up into delicious applesauce, apple pie, apple cake, apple turnovers, apple fritters, and of course, apple pie.

Apples taste their very best at harvest time, but they're also excellent winter storage fruits. You can keep applies in your refrigerator or in a cool basement for months. Store apples in a cool, dark place, and handle them gently to avoid bruising. One apple with a bruised spot really can spoil the whole barrel or bag.

Find the freshest apples at your local orchard farm stands or find an orchard where you can take the family to pick your own apples. Near my home, the famous Rodale Organic Farm holds an Apple Festival in the fall. One of the top activities during the Organic Apple Festival is picking your own apples.

It's also fun to sample fresh-made apple sauce, apple butter, sweet cider, apple cake, apple crisp and all sorts of other tasty apple goodies before or after a wagon ride to the orchard.

At Rodale Farms, and Champlain Orchards, the apple tree branches hang low to the ground, so even the youngest kids can reach the fruit in the pick your own apple orchards.

Enjoy delicious apples during harvest season and all winter long; if you happen to pick a bushel of apples to bring your home, try making apple sauce and storing it in the freezer.

Here are two of my family's favorite apple recipes.


Apple Crisp

4 c. apples, cut into thick wedges
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. sugar (half white,half brown)
1/4 c. dried cherries, raisins or cranberries

1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened

apples

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange apples in a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with dried fruit, cinnamon and sugar.

In a medium-sized bowl, make the topping: cream the sugar and butter, then blend in the flour and oats with fingers or a pastry cutter until it's crumbly. Sprinkle topping crumbs over apples. Bake for about 30 minutes, until apples are tender and topping is brown and crunchy.

Serve warm or cold, with ice cream, vanilla yogurt or a dollop of whipped cream.


Fresh Apple Cake

This healthy apple cake gets moister every day ...
4 cups coarsely chopped apples (about 4 to 5 large apples cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour (white and whole wheat or a combination of the two)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (325 degrees if using a glass baking dish)

Combine apples, sugars, oil, eggs, nuts and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together, then stir by hand into apple mixture. Stir gently to combine - don't beat!

Pour batter into a greased and floured 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan and spread gently - it will be thick.

Bake cake in center of oven on middle rack for 50 minutes, or until cake pulls away slightly from sides of pan.

Cool in pan on rack. Dust with confectioner's sugar or try a topping variation at serving time such as lemon glaze, whipped cream or ice cream.

Lee Hansen

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