By Karen Ridings
Apple season is here! Now is the time to pick or purchase crisp, juicy Virginia apples. Did you know that Virginia ranks sixth in apple production in the United States, with over 250 commercial growers? About half of Virginia's apples are grown in Frederick County!
Colonial farmers discovered that Virginia had the right type of climate and soil to grow this wonderful fruit. One of George Washington's hobbies was to prune his apple tree, and Thomas Jefferson grew apples at Monticello.
You've heard that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apples have a healthy reputation because they are high in soluble and insoluble fibers. A diet high in soluble and insoluble fibers may help reduce your risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Apples are low in calories and also a source of vitamins C and A, potassium, and other nutrients. In addition to the health benefits of apples, they are inexpensive and easy to store and carry.
A wide variety of apples are grown in Virginia. Your local orchard will have a list of apples that they grow and the best use for the different varieties. For example, honeycrisp, red delicious, Stayman, and McIntosh are some of the delicious eating varieties. You might want to try golden delicious, McIntosh, Rome beauty, or Stayman for making applesauce. Many of these same varieties work well in pies and other baked products. Again, check with your local orchard for guidance. Buying local apples helps support the local economy.
Apples can be canned, frozen or dried for use later in the year. Contact your local Extension office for food preservation information. Go to the websites below for information on apple orchards, apple recipes, and pick-your-own outings!
Apple Recipes: urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/recipes.cfm
General information about apples and fun fall events in Virginia: virginiaapples.net
Virginia apple orchard directory: orangepippin.com/orchards/united-states/virginia
Locating pick your own apple orchards: pickyourown.org/VAnorthern.htm
Karen A. Ridings is a family consumer sciences agent located in Frederick County. As a registered dietitian and elementary education teacher, families have always been the primary focus of her career. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org