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Apples are a delicious, natural source of fiber and perhaps, the world's oldest fruit. First mentioned in the Bible, it is believed that this natural wonder was originally grown in Neolithic times. It was the Egyptians and Romans that introduced the apple to Britain. Shortly thereafter, early Americans brought apple seeds home from Europe and began planting trees.

The apple is a member of the rose family. There are 2,500 different varieties of apples grown in the United States, and more than 7, 000 varieties grown through out the world. Ninety-percent of the apples grown in the U.S., come from only 16 varieties of apples.

A single apple has more fiber than a serving of oatmeal or cold fiber based cereal. One medium size apple contains 5-grams of fiber, almost twice the amount of fiber in most high fiber cereals. In fact, the apple contains 20% of the fiber your body needs a day. Best of all, apples contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium.

THE APPLES

GOLDEN DELICIOUS
Golden Delicious apples are considered the perfect cooking apple because they retain both shape and taste when baked or cooked. Golden Delicious apples have a rich mellow flavor and a tender skin. This variety is also rated the best apple of choice for making cider and juicing. Golden Delicious varieties are also excellent eating apples.

APPLE BRANDY CUSTARD TART
1, 9-inch pie shell
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1T brandy
Nutmeg to taste

Heat oven to 425-degrees. Lightly prick bottom of pie shell with fork. Bake shell 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees. Crisscross sliced apples, laying them into crust. In medium bowl, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, brandy, and nutmeg. Pour over apples and bake 40 minutes.

GRANNY SMITH
This is a popular tart, crisp apple that works well in salads. Granny Smith apples are excellent for fresh eating and cold salads. You can use this variety's tart taste to your advantage when cooking by baking or sautéing.

APPLE BUTTER
4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider
Brown sugar
2t cinnamon
1t cloves, ground
1/2t allspice
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Cook apples in all liquids until soft. Pass through a food mill, food processor or juicer. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar for each cup puree. Add remaining spices, rind and lemon juice. Cook on low heat until thick and dark. (Approximately 3-4 hours.)

JONATHAN
The Jonathan apple is best cooked. This tart, tangy treat has a rich, distinctive flavor. Jonathan's hold their shape and retain flavor when cooked.

RED DELICIOUS
America's favorite snacking apple is the sweet and juicy Red Delicious. These are best eaten fresh or in cold salads. This is also an excellent juicing apple.

RED CANDIED APPLES
2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies
10 medium Red Delicious apples on skewers

Combine corn syrup and red hot candies in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook covered 3 minutes or until crystals are dissolved. Uncover and cook without stirring to a soft crack stage. (290-degrees) Dip apples in mixture to coat, then roll in nuts, if desired.

ROME BEAUTY
If you like baked apples, you'll love the rich taste of the Rome Beauty. These are primarily cooking apples that need a touch of sugar or honey to enhance their natural flavor.

WINESAP
Winesap apples have a surprisingly fresh, spicy flavor. They're great choices for cooking and eating fresh. Applesauces and ciders made with the Winesap have an appealing, rich, aromatic taste!

MICROWAVE APPLESAUCE
8 Winesap apples, pared, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4t cinnamon
Dash nutmeg, ground

Combine apples and water in 2 quart microwave safe dish. Cover and cook on high 12-14 minutes or until apples are tender. Stir twice during cooking. Blend in remaining ingredients, cover and return to microwave. Cook on high 2-4 minutes or until sugar has dissolved.

FUJI
Those who crave sweets will enjoy the delicate, mildly crisp flavor of the Fuji apple. These are best eaten fresh, but can be used for apple crisp or simple baking.

ELSTAR
With an intense tangy flavor, the Elstar is a favorite in fruit trays, salads and for snacking. The Elstar also holds up well during cooking, and is perfect for apple toppings.

BRAEBURN
With a blend of tart and sweet flavors, the Braeburn apple makes a delicious crisp and juicy snack.

CRITERION
Dubbed the "candy apple," the Criterion is an extremely sweet, juicy, fresh snacking apple. If using as a baking apple, add lemon juice to help enhance flavor.

GALA
Gala apples are rich in flavor and wonderfully aromatic. These are best used fresh or in salads. Small in size, they're perfect to tuck into a briefcase or lunch box.

JONAGOLD
Sweet and tart are the flavors that burst from the Jonagold. Use this crisp, tender skinned fruit as a snack or in salads.

NEWTOWN PIPPIN
This is a firm apple that is superb for cooking and baking. Newtown Pippin's are tart and hold their shape and rich flavor well when popped in the oven whole or sliced, diced and baked.


HOW TO SELECT APPLES
When shopping for apples, press your finger against the skin to check for firmness. Prime quality, ripe apples should feel hard and should not dent. Larger apples are more likely to be overripe than smaller ones.

HOW TO STORE
Apples are ripe the minute they are picked, so they need to be kept cold to keep them fresh and firm. At home, keep apples in a refrigerator, where they can be kept fresh for about 6 weeks.

When cutting apples for salads, you can prevent browning by rubbing the cut surfaces with lemon juice and water, dipping them into orange, lemon or pineapple juice.