‘Tis the season for all things fall–the leaves changing color, cool weather, and most importantly, all the delicious produce in season, namely apples! Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples.* At the Farmers Markets, there are dozens of varieties to choose from, all proudly displaying their own unique textures and flavors. The most popular varieties include Braeburn, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Ida Red, Jonagold, Rome, McIntosh, and much more. 

Not only are apples flavorful and delicious, they are also low-calorie (about 100 calories for a medium apple) and nutritionally dense fruits. They contain high levels of:

  • Vitamin C (about 14% of your daily value based on a 2000 calorie diet): Vitamin C is mostly known for its role as an antioxidant. Antioxidants defend against free radicals (reactive molecules that cause damage to cells) in the body and also protect against oxidative stress (burns, infections, etc.) to tissues.
  •  Vitamin K (about 5% of your daily value): Vitamin K plays a huge role in blood clotting. It activates proteins called prothrombin and fibrin, both essential to that function.
  • Potassium (about 6% of your daily value): Potassium is in charge of maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in body cells during muscle contractions and nerve transmissions.
  • Fiber (about 4 grams): Fiber is plant material (cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, lignin and starch) that cannot be digested in humans.  Fiber has a whole host of health benefits, such as lowering risk of heart disease and diabetes, improving the health of the gastrointestinal tract, and protecting against colon cancer. The recommended daily allowance for women is 25 grams per day, and for men, 38 grams per day.

Along with being nutritional powerhouses, apples make an economical pantry staple in the fruit category because of their long shelf life. They can be kept in the fridge for up to two months, so no need to fret about apples going to waste if you can’t eat them all in one week. Another way to utilize the surplus of apples in the fall is to make homemade applesauce. Applesauce is easy to whip up and can be used in baking as a lower-calorie and more nutritionally dense alternative to oil or butter. Examples of items you could use applesauce for instead of fat is pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cakes and cookies. The ratio to swapping oil to applesauce is 1:1, but my suggestion is to start by swapping half of the oil for applesauce and go from there, as it may change the texture/cook time of whatever you’re making.

Experimenting is key!

For this applesauce recipe, come to the farmers markets and pick out your favorite variety of apple, or try a different variety other than your standard choice to switch things up!

Easy Farmers Market Applesauce

Yield: 1.5-2 quarts

Time: 15 mins prep, 40 mins cook

Ingredients:

3 -4 pounds of apples (about 7 to 10 apples, depending on size), peeled, cored, and quartered
3 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Up to 1/2 cup of white sugar (half of the white sugar may be replaced with brown sugar)*
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

*you can also try honey or maple syrup for a different taste and local sweetener

Method:

  1. Boil peeled, cored, and quartered apples with lemon, cinnamon, sugar, and salt in 1 cup water: Place the peeled, cored, and quartered apples into a large pot. Add the lemon juice or vinegar, cinnamon, sugar, water and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the temperature, cover the pot, and maintain a low simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are completely tender and fully cooked.
  3. Once the apples are fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat. Use a potato masher to mash the cooked apples in the pot to make a chunky applesauce. For a smoother applesauce you can puree them or use a blender.
  4. Enjoy!

Note: If applesauce is too thick, use water to thin it out. If applesauce is not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.

*Find out more about Michigan produced apples at http://www.michiganapples.com/