After what seemed to be the hottest, face-meltingest summer in recent memory, I’m pretty stoked on fall. Cardigans! Cool nights under blankets without waking up every hour drenched in sweat and sure that I am dead! And, of course, apples! I’ll never forget the first time I went apple picking- I was with my kindergarten class, wearing a bitchin’ neon-colored jumpsuit, and I had the time of my life running through the orchard selecting the shiniest, most beautiful fruit and throwing it at boys. I ended up eating most of the bag I picked right away, and then I got diarrhea on the bus (and if you’ve ever had diarrhea while wearing a jumpsuit, you know how much that sucks). Anyway, apple picking is a rite of autumn passage- it’s easy, fun, and even romantic, provided that you don’t poop your pants doing it, and apples are delicious and versatile. So get pumped on apples with this BUST-y guide:
PICKING YOUR APPLES
Look for firm apples without bruises; color isn’t actually an indicator of ripeness, so don’t get freaked out by a weird-looking greenish-orange apple. Pro tip: Apples on the outside of the tree ripen first. I know you’re excited about finding that perfect apple, but don’t rip it off the branch and throw it in your basket like a beast- twist gently, and leave the stem on. It’ll keep longer. And when in doubt, ask a farmer; besides being kind of a good life motto, it’ll help you get the inside scoop on where to find the best apples. If you don’t have access to an orchard and are buying your apples from a store, the same rules about ripeness apply; don’t be afraid to gently fondle the apples to make sure there are no soft spots.
WHAT ARE MY APP-TIONS?
There are approximately 7,500 varieties of apples worldwide. The most popular include Red/Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and Fuji, but there are plenty of other kinds of apples-many with endearing names-available. Do a little research, perhaps with your mouth, and you’ll find that apples really vary in terms of sweetness/tartness/shape/color/etc.; also note that some are best eaten fresh while others are excellent for cooking/baking.
OKAY, I’VE GOT A SHIT-TON OF PERFECT APPLES. NOW WHAT?
Congratulations! You are going to have so much fun, and keep so many doctors away! It’s best to store your apples in a cool place and wash them only right before you use them. Individually wrapping apples in newspaper can help them last a long time (maybe even through an appleocalypse). Just don’t store them near potatoes! They do not co-exist well, because of gases or something science-y like that.
You can enjoy your apples raw, of course (I’m kind of obsessed with apples and chocolate peanut butter), but there are probably a gazillion other things you can do with them. Apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apple butter, apple turnovers, candy apples, Apple Martin, appletinis…you can even add apples to healthy things, like salads, to make them extra healthy. Now is the time to experiment. Go nuts (er, seeds)! If you’re crafty/creepy, try making your very own horrifying apple doll:
I’VE DONE EVERYTHING I COULD EVER DO WITH AN APPLE. WHAT WILL BECOME OF ME?
First of all, no, I bet you haven’t. But, with all those apples in your system, you are on your way to becoming superhuman. Apples clean your teeth and massage your gums, and are full of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, and pectin, a dietary fiber which “keeps you regular,” but could cause a highly irregular poop emergency on the schoolbus. You can also feel cool about being part of a long, fascinating apple history. Did you know that people used to throw apples at weddings? Or that bobbing for apples started as a tradition that determined who you would marry and subsequently get apples thrown at you with? Or that apples are members of the rose family? I told you apples were kind of romantic. Except, of course, when they’re apple dolls.
Happy harvest, y’all!
What's Cooking America
Washington State Apple Commission
Pick Your Own
Photo of women picking apples on a Hungarian collective via University of Liverpool. I bet you're Hungary now!