October is celebrated as the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch, an opportunity to promote both local foods and healthy snacks. The Apple Crunch encourages schools, clubs, or offices to choose a day in October and serve fresh local apples. The official day is Thursday, Oct. 10, but apples can be crunched any day in October to participate.
In Ross County, students at Chillicothe High School, Huntington High School, and Adena High School will be participating in the crunch through their Family and Consumer Science or FFA Programs. At Zane Trace Schools students will be participating through their Health and PE classes. Ohio State University Extension, Ross County will partner with these schools to provide local apples for their “Great Apple Crunch” days.
Apples are a healthy snack which provides both soluble and insoluble fiber in one food. Soluble fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup, reducing the risk of heart disease; and insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system. The Vitamin C in apples is an antioxidant; important for skin, bones and healing. Vitamin A, also in apples, plays a role in vision, bone growth, and our immune system. A small to medium apple is a low-calorie snack with only 75 to 80 calories per apple. Apples are also fat, sodium, and gluten free.
Select firm apples that are free of decay, bruises, broken or shriveled skin with an intact stem. Store apples in the refrigerator in a perforated, plastic bag away from other fruits. Apples produce ethylene with may cause other fruits to prematurely ripen. Use within three weeks. Before serving wash under running water.
With over 7,500 varieties of apples it may be hard to decide which to select. Each variety has different qualities which may help you in the process. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy. Some varieties are perfect for baking, others work better in salads, and some are best for eating fresh – like those we will select for the “Great Apple Crunch.” For example, Jonathans are tart and great for baking. Galas (my personal favorite) are sweet and good for eating or salads. Granny Smith apples are tart and great for baking.
The Ohio Apple website has a great guide to provide information about varieties, their taste, and what they are best used for. Go to http://ohioapples.com to find out more. Apples fortunately have a great shelf life and can be used in numerous ways when cooking – think salads, cake, muffins or bread, in pancakes, sandwiches, oatmeal, or hot in chili, stuffing, or with sweet potatoes or squash. It really is a very versatile fruit. The USDA What’s Cooking Mixing Bowl has over 140 recipes that are economical and most are healthy, find them at http://go.osu.edu/apple2.
If you have the chance, select locally grown apples to have optimum flavor, prevent loss of nutrients, support the local economy, promote a safe food supply, and know where your food was grown. If you would like to join the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch contact Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator to join local schools at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 740-702-3200. Post your own photos on social media showing your students, co-workers, or family members crunching apples in October and use the hashtag #GreatAppleCrunch.
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