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September 24, 2013

Apples are vigorous, versatile treats

Fresh apples are so delicious. 

Though apples taste good all year, they are especially crisp and flavorful right now. It is no surprise that the North Country is full of apple-related traditions, such as picking apples at the orchard, canning applesauce and enjoying apple pies. Not only are we lucky to have so many orchards nearby, but also to have such a huge variety of apples. Each orchard has its own unique offerings, from hard cider to petting zoos. 

My favorite quality of the apple is how low maintenance it is. It is the perfect grab-and-go food; no need for refrigeration or cutting and peeling, and it is resilient to a few bumps if it is rolling around the bottom of your bag. Apples are also very versatile and taste great raw or cooked and added to sweet and savory dishes. There is such variety in types of apples that everyone can find one to love, whether it is juicy, has a crispy texture, or has a sweet or tart flesh. 

If you are looking to do something with apples — besides enjoying them as is — this is a great time of year to experiment. If you buy a big bag at a local orchard or are lucky enough to have apples growing in your yard, there are so many ways to use them. Here are some ideas:

▶ Slice raw apples and pair with sharp cheese or peanut butter and yogurt as a dip. They can also be added to peanut-butter or ham sandwiches, or mixed into a green salad or coleslaw.

▶ Baked apples taste great when stuffed with oatmeal, cinnamon and a little maple syrup. They can also be filled with blue cheese and pine nuts. Top chicken or pork with apple slices before baking them for a sweet compliment to a main dish. Apples also taste great on top of white pizza with spinach and bacon.

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