Seasonal Produce Highlights: Apples

Apples bring a welcome freshness to the colder-weather months when menus are packed with heavier fare, bringing freshness, brightness, and texture (when raw) to fall and winter seasonal dishes. There are 2,500 varieties of apples in the U.S., and New York is only second to Washington state in terms of apple production. The Empire State grows and markets more commercial varieties than any other region in the country. The top five varieties are McIntosh, Empire, Red Delicious, Cortland, and Golden Delicious. They all range in sweetness, from the milder Golden Delicious to the sweet-tart tang of the McIntosh.

Apples can work in sweet or savory applications. The fruit is a go-to ingredient for many dessert dishes and their high levels of flavonoids, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of disease, are a health bonus. Apples also add freshness to cocktails, ciders, and teas that are popular, on-trend drinks bursting with sweet flavors. Pair a hard cider or cold-pressed juice with sandwiches or cheese and charcuterie. Their sweetness can be showcased in homemade jams and preserves like apple jelly, jam, and butter. Add apples to the main course by using it as a sweet counterpoint to your protein, for example creating an apple jus to serve with pork or lamb chops. This seasonal favorite can also be seen adding hints of delicious flavors to meat like apple sausage. Sweet and flavorful, apple sausage can be grilled, then sliced and served with Dijon mustard and sharp Cheddar.