Columns and Letters

Column: A look at popular Nova Scotia apples

October 14, 2020

- by Bonny H.J. MacIsaac

    Sitting down to write after a decadent Thanksgiving meal has me thinking about dessert later. A slice of apple pie is waiting for me. I love this time of year! Fall is here and of course that means it is apple season! One of my favourite fruits because they are so versatile and nutritious. Whether you pick your own, fresh from the tree or buy them, Nova Scotia offers a number of varieties, each with own unique taste, texture and various shelf life.
    I often get questions about different varieties of apples. With so many varieties it is handy to know what uses each type is best suited for. Nothing worse than an apple pie gone to mush after all your hard work! Let's take a look at popular Nova Scotia apples...
– Ambrosia: A sweet, low acid, crisp apple. Known as the “irresistible apple.” Uses: Snacking, Salads, Baking, Beverages, Pie, Sauce, Freezing            
– Cortland: Mild, sweet, crisp are the terms used for this variety. The flavour of the Cortland apple also shines in cooked preparations. Bake into cakes, tarts, cobbler, quiche, and galettes, or slow cook to make soups, sauces, and preserves. Cortlands also make excellent cider and juice.    
– Empire: Slightly tart, juicy, and crisp. Empire apples are excellent for eating and salads, and good for sauce, baking, pies, and freezing. The original seed was a cross between the varieties McIntosh and Red Delicious.
– Gala: Sweet, fragrant, and crisp. These aromatically-sweet apple features pink-orange stripes atop a pretty yellow background. Use for snacking, salads, baking, beverages, pies, and sauce.
– Golden Delicious: Sweet, mellow, crisp. A white-fleshed apple, that is very versatile. Crisps, crumbles, tarts, cakes, galettes, and breads or eaten fresh or added to salads.     
– Gravenstein: Early, juicy, tart, fragrant. The flavour gets more intense as it cooks! One of the season's first varieties that is excellent for baking and cooking. Also makes great sauce and cider.
– Honeycrisp: Sweet, juicy, crisp. Its complex flavour is subtly tart, and is a versatile ingredient for recipes ranging from sweet to savory. Use for snacking, salads, baking, beverages, pies, and sauce.
– Idared: Tart, low acid and make wonderful baked apples as they hold their shape when cooked. Makes beautiful natural pink apple sauce if you leave the skins on while cooking.        
– Jonagold: Their crisp tangy-sweet flavour is perfect for using in preserves, sauces, and jams. A nice compliment sliced with root vegetables, cheeses or pork etc. Great for snacking, salads, baking, beverages, and pies.        
– McIntosh: Mildly tart, juicy, low acid. The flesh of the McIntosh apple is delicate and will breakdown when cooked. It should be paired with a denser apple variety to make a pie filling or slow cook to make sauces and chutney. The perfect apple for cider or juice. Adds sweetness and moisture to breads, cakes, and cookies.
– Northern Spy: Sweet, crisp, and known as one of the most versatile. Raw, baked, roasted, sautéed, or slow cooked to a puree. Pies, tarts, cobblers or sliced fresh for salads or paired with cheeses or what have you!        
– Red Delicious: Mildly sweet and crunchy. It is said that the Red Delicious is the world's favourite snacking apple. This type is best used fresh as the flesh does not hold up well when cooked. Which makes it just perfect for adding to salads, or as a delicious garnish on sandwiches, quesadillas and burgers.
– Spartan: A slightly tart, crisp apple quite like the McIntosh but it has a better texture than the McIntosh for cooking. An excellent cooking apple that maintains its shape and flavour when baked into pies, crisps, and turnovers.        
– Sunrise: One of the best early-season apple varieties, with flesh that is remarkably crisp, and fairly juicy. It is suited to be used raw or cooked. Eaten fresh or sliced in a salad or used in a fresh dessert. Also used in pies, cobblers, cakes, or applesauce.
    There are also three special apple varieties grown in Nova Scotia:
– Pazazz: A large apple. The size makes it ideal for making stuffed apple preparations. Pazazz apples pair well with pork, chicken, sweet potatoes, pears, honey, sharp cheeses, winter squashes, pecans, and warm spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom.
– Sonya: A crisp, sweet apple that works well in baked goods and salads. This variety has a high-sugar content that allows for a reduction in the amount of sugar called for in some recipes. Pairs well with strong cheeses. Only a select number of orchards in Nova Scotia grow the Sonya apple.
– SweeTango: Very sweet yet they have a tart flavour. A nice crisp, crunchy apple that bursts with juice when bitten into! Best eaten out of hand. Their texture does make for great baked goods such as tarts, pies and muffins. So tasty in pancakes etc.
    The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association provide the following information on the care and handling of apples:
– Apples should be handled as gently as you would an egg as they can bruise easily.
– When buying apples, look for firm apples that are well shaped and have smooth skin that is free of bruises.
– Don’t wash apples until you are ready to eat/use them.
– To keep the crunch in Nova Scotia apples, store them in perforated plastic bags in your refrigerator crisper. This prevents decay, slows down ripening, and helps maintain juiciness. Apples soften 10 times faster at room temperature.
– Remove any apple that is overripe, bruised, or damaged as they naturally give off ethylene gas that will cause nearby apples to ripen too quickly and spoil.
– You can use an apple to help ripen pears, bananas, peaches, and plums - simply put an apple in a paper bag with these other fruits. The ethylene gas produced by the apple will speed up the ripening process.
– Don’t store apples near cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach as the ethylene gas from the apples can damage them.
– If apples begin to get soft, use them for pies or apple sauce.
– To prevent browning when preparing apples, sprinkle cut surfaces with lemon juice.
     Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research indicates they really do with all their health benefits. Here are just some of them:
– Crisp, firm Nova Scotia apples are a natural energy booster containing 21g of total carbohydrate, or 77 per cent of the daily requirement.
– An average size apple has about 80 calories and contains no fat or sodium.
– An average Nova Scotia apple contains more fibre than a bowl of oatmeal or most brands of cold cereal and is an excellent source of dietary fibre. Eighty per cent of the fibre in apples is soluble fibre, which aids in the reduction of cholesterol levels. One average-sized apple has 2.6g of fibre.
– Apples provide boron, an essential element that helps make bones healthy and strong; strong bones help prevent osteoporosis.
– Apples, especially apple peels, are rich in dietary antioxidants. In terms of total antioxidants, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious ranked the highest of eight varieties while Empire ranked the lowest.
– Scientific evidence suggests that apple flavonoids play an important role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, various cancers, Type 2 diabetes, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, and asthma.
– Recent research has shown that flavonoids present in apple peels could help fight against breast cancer as the flavonoids help keep the breast cancer cells under control. Apple flavonoids have also demonstrated the ability to kill liver cancer cells.
    Thanks to the folks at The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association for this timely information. Certainly, food for thought! To keep up with their news or for all things apple check out their website:
    Recalled - Check your eggs! The Canada Food Inspection Agency is recalling numerous brands of eggs. The recalled products have been sold in Newfoundland and Labrador and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
    Only eggs from Hilly Acres Farm with best before dates from September 2nd, 2020 to October 31st, 2020, inclusively where the lot code contains “38" or “N38" or where there is no lot code on the package are implicated by the recall.
    The list is too long to print in this column. Local Co-op stores have sold Compliments Brand, which are on the recalled list. Take them back to the store to get them exchanged if the best before date falls in the ones stated above. The rest of the recalled products can be found here:
    Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems may contract serious and sometimes deadly infections. Healthy people may experience short-term symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis.
    This recall was triggered by the company test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings. The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace.











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