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Apples in Arkansas

by Lindsey Sexton - September 29, 2022

ripe red apples on limb before being picked

Fall is upon us and crisp delicious apples are in season. Whether you buy them at the farmers market or the grocery store, you don’t want to miss out on these sweet in-season treats.

Why should I eat apples?

Incorporating apples into your everyday diet is an important part of maintaining overall health. Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamin C and fiber.

Antioxidants are known to protect and repair our cells. Vitamin C is known to boost your immune system. Fiber is known to help keep your digestive system working properly. It also helps prevent the buildup of cholesterol in arteries, reducing heart disease. Besides being delicious and easy to carry for snacking, apples are a low-calorie breath freshener.

How are apples grown?

Apple trees grow in the temperate regions of the world, where the average winter temperature is near freezing for at least two months. 

Apple trees lose their leaves after the growing season every year. In late spring, tiny buds on the trees begin to produce white blossoms. The buds blossom for about nine days producing pollen and nectar. Bees then help cross-pollinate the nectar, the first step in apple formation. Next, the seeds form inside the seed chambers found near the apple core. This seed development stimulates the apple development. Apples grow until late summer when they are ready to be harvested and eaten.

How do I pick the best apple?

Fresh apples should be bought when ripe for best flavor. Choose apples that are firm and free of bruises and breaks in the skin. Apples with discolored streaks or spots on their skin are safe to eat. Soft apples have a mealy texture. Some varieties are better for baking, while others are better for eating raw.

Canned apples are tasty and versatile as well. Buy cans and jars that look perfect. Carefully check cans and jars for dents, leakage, and rust before buying. Cans and jars should be free of dents, cracks, or bulging lids, which may indicate a serious food poisoning threat.

How do I keep apples fresh longer?

Unrefrigerated, fresh ripened apples will retain their quality for about 1 week on your kitchen counter. Unripe apples can be quickly ripened at home by storing them in a partly sealed bag at room temperature. Ripened apples stored in the humidifier compartment of the refrigerator (35° to 40°F.) may retain their quality for 1 month.

Store canned apples in a cool, dry area. For best quality, use canned foods within two years of purchase.

What can I make with apples?

Wash apples before using them. Core apples by quartering them and cutting out the semicircular wedge that contains the seeds. To prevent browning, rub the cut surfaces of apples with a mixture of lemon juice or honey and cold water. Fresh apples are delicious. If you prefer them cooked, apples stand up well to being baked, sautéed, or microwaved.

Consider using canned applesauce to replace the butter, oil, or shortening for half of the called-for-fat in baked goods. Looking for an alternative to your typical sugary toppings?

Try using apples canned in their own juice or water to top yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal, or toast. Simply drain them before use.

Arkansas Apples

Ninety-five percent of Arkansas’s commodity apples are sold in markets; the rest are sold for processing. In 2002, Arkansas’s 900 acres of orchards shipped over 3 million pounds of apples, down from nearly 15 million pounds in 1985. Even though apple production in Arkansas  has declined through the years, the apple blossom remains the state flower.

How many apples should I eat for better health?

Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber. Since fruit juices contain little or no fiber they should be used in moderation.

Daily recommendations for eating fruit are listed below. 1 small apple (2¼" diameter) counts as 1 cup-equivalent in the Fruit Group.

  Age Amount
Toddlers         12 to 23 months ½ to 1 cup
Children          2-4 yrs 1 to 1½ cups
  5-8 yrs 1 to 2 cups
Girls    9-18 yrs 1½ to 2 cups
Boys    9-13 yrs 1½ to 2 cups
  14-18 yrs 2 to 2½ cups
Women           19-60+ yrs 1½ to 2 cups
Men    19-59 yrs 2 to 2½ cups
  60+ yrs 2 cups

Nutrition Facts per 1 cup serving

Calories 57
Protein 0 g
Carbohydrates 15 g
Fat 0 g
Fiber 3 g
Sodium 1 mg