The In-'Cider' Scoop on Apples
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. We’ve all heard this childhood saying, convincing us that if we ate our apples we would avoid a trip to the doctor’s office. This always got me thinking, what’s so special about an apple, anyway?
In many aspects, apples are a unique fruit. According to the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, apples are one of the best sources of pectin, a type of fiber. Research indicates pectin limits the cholesterol the body absorbs and may be an important link to preventing heart disease. In addition to pectin, apples are packed full of 10 vitamins and minerals that help prevent infections, aid growth, are important for eyesight, and help digestion. That’s quite an impressive list for a fruit that is, on average, three to seven ounces! And with only about 80 calories, an apple is perfect to fill you up without being too much.
Here in Wisconsin, we have been growing and enjoying apples since the early 1800s. Many of our state’s first settlers had an orchard on their homestead to provide fruit for the family. Between 1830 and 1850, commercial apple orchards were first planted. Since then, Wisconsin has been a producer of some of the best commercially-grown apples in the world due to an ideal growing climate, unique varieties and high quality standards. There are now nearly 150 commercial orchards found in Wisconsin, with the most prominent growing regions in Southwest Wisconsin, the Door County area, and Bayfield County. On a trip to Door County, I visited Wood Orchard to learn more about their apple-growing operation in Sturgeon Bay. This orchard is a 3rd generation farm growing apples and other fruits on 200 acres. Some of their most popular apple varieties include Honeycrisp and SweeTango, and Wood Orchard Market is the orchard’s retail store offering gifts, specialty foods, bakery items, and more.
Many of our orchards have just finished harvest in the last month or so, and have moved on to prepping trees for the winter, turning their harvests into value added products like Jams, jellies, syrups, juices, or baked goods, and more. Harvest season ranges from mid-August to late-October as different apple varieties ripen at various times. Varieties ready in early September include McIntosh, Gala, and Honeycrisp. All three of these varieties are great for eating fresh!
Wisconsin apples can be enjoyed in so many ways. Whether you prefer red, green, yellow, or a shade in-between, fresh apples are a prefect on-the-go snack. Store your apples in plastic bags in the refrigerator to help them last longer. The Wisconsin Farmers Market Association shares that apples at room temperature ripen six to 10 times faster.
Pick your apples up at a local farmer’s market, a roadside stand, or even fresh from the tree. Visit your local apple orchard for fresh picking and to sample different varieties grown in Wisconsin. Learn more about Wisconsin’s apple history, and how growers in our state are caring for their land to ensure it is protected for generations to come. Head to the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association’s website, wisconsinapplegrowers.org, for information on orchards and apple events near you.