Apples – Local Food Spotlight

— Written By

It’s no secret that we love apples in Wilkes County. Although we will miss the annual Brushy Mountain Apple Festival this year our local orchards are still open. What better way to enjoy fall than by visiting an orchard? Many who carry much more than just apples, including cider, pumpkins, jams, jellies, and more. 

Our state has over 300 commercial apple operations making North Carolina seventh in the United States for apple production. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, and Gala varieties make up the bulk of North Carolina’s apple production. Other varieties including Jonagold, Stayman, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and more can be found at orchards throughout the region. 

Health Benefits

Apples are a simple, portable snack rich in vitamins, fiber, and free of fat and sodium. Soluble fiber can actually aid in preventing cholesterol buildup while insoluble fiber is beneficial to the digestive system. It’s important to note that many of the nutrients are found in the peel! Two-thirds of the fiber + many antioxidants are in or just below the peel, so be sure to eat this part. 

Choosing the “Right” Apple

With the hundreds of varieties available today, ranging from sweet to tart and soft to crisp there’s an apple to appeal to just about anyone’s tastebuds. Select firm apples based on intended use, for example, some are better for snacking versus baking. This list of common varieties grown in NC can aid in choosing your preferred apple. 

Preservation & Storage

Stored at room temperature apples will be of their best quality if consumed within three weeks, to extend their shelf life store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with holes. For freezing choose varieties that are crisp and firm (e.g., Golden Delicious, Rome, etc). These can be frozen in syrup, sugar, or dry packs. More information can be found on the NCHFP websiteFor canning choose crisp and firm varieties as well (e.g., Golden Delicious, Stayman, etc.). Home-canned items such as apple slices, applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling are also great to fill the pantry with. More tested recipes can be found from the National Center of Home Food Preservation

Recipes

Apple Spice Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium golden delicious apple, peeled and chopped
  • ⅓ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional

Directions

  1. In a food processor bowl or blender container, place the following ingredients: chickpeas, chopped apple, lemon juice, peanut butter, water, salt, and spices. Cover and process or blend until smooth; transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate up to three days. Serve dip with apple slices, carrot slices and/or whole-wheat crackers.

From NDSU Extension

Rosemary Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked, cooled and diced into small cubes
  • 1 ¼ c. Gala or Fuji apple, chopped
  • 1/3 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • Lettuce or whole-grain bread for serving

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 – 5.3 oz. container fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 ½ tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chicken, apples, pecans, and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. In a separate, small mixing bowl stir together dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over chicken mixture and toss to evenly coat. Serve on lettuce leaves or whole-grain bread.

From NDSU Extension

Find Orchards with the Visit NC Farms App

To find nearby farms this fall, download the Visit NC Farms App. From here you can search for a specific farm or product, and locate ones nearest you on the map. Remember to call ahead to farms to confirm hours of operation and availability.