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An apple or two or three a day is good eats

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Ahh, here in the middle of apple season, there’s so many decisions, and so many delicious results.

Branch out — pardon the pun — and try something different.

Apples vary in taste, texture, sweetness. Honeycrisp is the most popular apple, with its tart/sweet crunch and great juiciness.

Granny Smiths are a great all-purpose apple. They make a tart snack, they bake up nicely and they work well with other flavors.

Pink Lady apples are another popular variety, again with a mixture of sweetness and acidity.

If you go to a roadside stand or the orchards around the state — Taylorsville and Hendersonville have many — try things you’ve never heard of before. Most places are happy to let you have a slice.

Look for varieties related to Honeycrisp, like Crimson Crisp. Try Gingergold, related to Jonagold. Mutsu apples are crunchier and more tart than Golden Delicious.

Rome is a baking apple whose flavor improves with cooking. Stayman is a winey-flavored apple that’s good for cooking and eating raw.

Sweet Fuji apples store well, as do Goldrush apples, which have a spicy flavor and firm texture.

The four major varieties which make up the bulk of NC’s production are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Gala.

Always refrigerate your apples as cold as possible without freezing. Apples will ripen and therefore turn soft 10 times faster at room temperature and nearly five times faster at 40 degrees.

Looking for something to do with apples, besides dessert? Apples are a good source of fiber and flavor and work well in savory dishes, like salads, stews and even pizza.

Slow Cooker Pork and Cider Stew

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1  1/2-inch cubes

1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil, divided

8 ounces peeled, fresh pearl onions (about 20)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard

2 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. dried sage

1 bay leaf

8 ounces medium red potatoes, quartered

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add the pork in a single layer and sear until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining pork.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more.

Pour in the apple cider and deglaze the skillet, using a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Whisk in the broth, mustard, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Add the thyme, sage, bay leaf, carrots, potatoes, and apples to the slow cooker, then pour the broth mixture over top. Cover and cook until the pork is tender, 6 to 8 hours on the LOW setting, or 4 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting.

the kitchn

Apple Cheddar Pizza with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. butter

1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (Honeycrisp works well)

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 large prepared pizza crust

1 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add onion and cook until caramelized, stirring every 5 minutes or so at first and then, as the onions begin to brown, more frequently. This could take from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on your stove. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on pizza crust package.

Wipe skillet clean; add butter and melt over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add apple slices and saute for about 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in maple syrup and continue cooking until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Top pizza crust with caramelized onions, shredded cheese, apples, and walnuts. Bake for time indicated on package or until cheese has melted.

Make the caramelized onions in advance to shorten the cook time. If the instructions on your pizza crust indicate that it should be baked at a higher temperature than 375 degrees or for longer than 10 minutes, toast walnuts separately and add them to pizza after it’s finished baking.

Oh my veggies

Apple, Greens and Cheese Salad

1 5-6 oz. bag mixed greens or spinach or kale or a mixture

1 large apple, cut into bite size pieces

4 oz. cheese — Brie, feta or cheddar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

3 green onions, sliced

For vinaigrette:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. apple cider

1 1/2 Tbsp. honey

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Salt and pepper

In a salad bowl, combine greens, chopped apple, sliced Brie or other cheess, dried cranberries, nuts and green onion.

In a jar or other lidded container, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, apple cider, honey, ginger, salt and pepper. Shake well and pour over salad, tossing to combine.

Goat cheese is also a good option. If you don’t like dried cranberries, try dried apricots or cherries.

lemon tree dwelling

Creamy Vanilla Grape & Apple Salad

8 oz. cream cheese softened

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pound red seedless grapes

1 pound green seedless grapes

3 apples, cored and diced

2/3 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, blend the ingredients until smooth, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the grapes, apples, pecan and cranberries. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with more nuts or coconut, if desired.

If you do not eat nuts, omit them or add pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups apples, peeled and sliced

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

4 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the pie crust out and place in a pie dish. Generously prick the sides and bottom, then put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the crust and use pie weights or beans to weigh it down. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove weights and paper.

Stir together 2 Tbsp. flour, salt, 3/4 cup sugar and nutmeg in bowl. Combine egg, sour cream and vanilla in another bowl. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in apples and spoon mixture into the pie shell.

Bake pie for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes more. If the sides of the crust are browning to much, cover with foil. Remove pie from oven and increase temperature back to 400 degrees.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup flour and 2 tsp. cinnamon in bowl. Cut in 4 Tbsp. butter until crumbly, using a pastry cutter or fork.

Sprinkle topping over pie and bake 10 minutes. Cool on rack before serving.

Use a combination of sweet and tart apples, like Granny Smith and Gala for best flavor.

Taste and Tell

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