Fall is all about apples: from apple picking (straight off the tree) to using them in everything you make -- salads, appetizers, main dishes and of course, dessert. Apples epitomize fall and are a significant symbol of the upcoming holiday. The humble apple is a really unique food, being full of nutrition, affordable and versatile all at once. What better way to celebrate the season so redolent of apples than with apples themselves!
Apple Picking, The Ultimate Family Trip
When people inquire about family activities for the fall season that will entertain toddlers and teenagers alike, the top destination on my list is always a trip to the apple orchard. Not only is apple-picking cheap and healthy, it is also a great memorable event for the family.
Apple picking is inexpensive:
Thanks in large part to Johnny Appleseed* who populated the United States with apples in the early 1800s, there is an apple orchard within driving distance of most locations in the United States. This translates to relatively inexpensive transportation costs, and the orchard itself is easier on the pocketbook than other family excursions might be. A quarter peck of apples in my small New England community is about $10-$15 and yields about 10 pounds of apples. No matter how tight the family budget, apple picking is one activity that can be afforded.
Apple picking is healthy:
It gets your family outdoors in the fresh air for exercise. It requires cooperation (very few small kids can reach the top of a tree without a lift from Mom or Dad). It teaches kids that food actually grows on trees and not in the stores (some orchards even feature educational programs for families). And it infuses the family with a sense of creativity: nothing inspires a family to go home and bake an apple pie or make caramel-covered apples like a trip to the orchard.
Apple picking creates memories:
Take a camera on your trip and have the kids create an apple- picking journal when you get home. A trip to the apple orchard symbolizes the beginning of fall and the change of seasons. Photograph the animals and the other plants in the orchard. Signs of fall are everywhere. Done annually, it can become a simple family ritual that will be remembered for years to come.
Health Benefits of Apples
One medium apple contains about 80 calories.
Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber.
One medium apple with skin on provides 5 grams of fiber. Apple skins are especially rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. Apples are thirst quenching because they contain about 85% water.
They are a perfect snack food because their natural sugars provide quick energy, while the bulky pulp makes the eater feel full.
Now that we have all our apples it's time to cook and bake, try these recipes:
Find a place to pick your own on Pickyourown.org
*Johnny Appleseed was the nickname for John Chapman, a kind and generous American pioneer born in 1774 who planted apple seeds in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. For more information and resources on apples: www.usaapple.org