Apples to Apples
Post by Paula Jahn, Dietitian and Co-Owner
New Seasons had heirloom apple tasting last Saturday. I grew up with an apple tree in my front yard. It was actually two different apple trees twisted together that produced Gravenstiens and Granny Smiths. The small, tart apples at the tasting took me back to childhood when my brothers and sisters and I would glean the edible, of not wormed, apples off the front lawn. Some of the apples were eaten on the spot, the rotten ones were thrown at fences or garbage cans, but most of them were destined for pies. My mom makes the best apple pies and crisps (yeah, I know, but this has been confirmed by tasters outside the family). We always urge her to enter into contests in the county fair but she refuses because she’s afraid she’ll get second place. Even the world’s most humble woman knows how good her pies are.
While the crust gets most of the attention for its finicky nature and artful way it must be finessed, the quality of apples cannot be ignored. Olivia and I decided to highlight the latter, not mess with finesse, and make baked apples with a crumble filling.
We ended up buying two varieties for comparison’s sake: the old stand-buy baking apple, the Granny Smith, and a red-skinned apple called Liberty.
To core the apples, we used a melon baller. An apple corer or a paring knife would also work.
Both varieties stood up well to the oven and had similar textures after 45 minutes at 375 F. Each apple earned character: one of the Grannys gave up its insides, all of the apples busted at the skin and some deflated a bit. The Granny Smith tasted slightly better than the Liberty; its tartness and more apple-y flavor played nicely with the sweet and sticky filling.
They were great for breakfast with a dollop of ricotta or plain Greek yogurt.
Oatmeal-Brown Sugar Baked Apples
(Adapted from theKitchn.com)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter, divided in four
1 cup hot water
Optional Extras: orange zest, lemon zest, grated ginger, raisins or other dried fruit, chopped nuts
Pre-heat oven to 375-degrees.
Remove the core of the apples, cutting to within a half inch of the bottom of the apple. This is easy to do with an apple corer, but can also be done with a melon baller, grapefruit spoon, or a paring knife. The idea is to create a well inside the apple about 3/4 inch wide.
Mix the brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and any extras in a bowl. Divide this mixture between the apples and pack it into the wells.
Arrange the apples in a baking dish (an 8×8 Pyrex dish works well), and top each one with a pat of butter. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Bake for 20 minutes and remove foil. Continue baking uncovered until the apples are baked through and the brown sugar has melted into a syrup, an additional 20-30 minutes.
Test for doneness by poking a knife into the apple through the center well. It should slide easily with no resistance. The skin on the apples will also become wrinkled and soft by the end of cooking.