Simply Seasonal: Comparing apples to apples |

Simply Seasonal: Comparing apples to apples

Special to the Daily

With orchards growing at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, apples are Colorados largest fruit crop. The high altitude provides warm days with intense sunlight and cool nights with mountain fresh air. The apple season is one of the longest. Hotchkiss starts harvesting in late August while Palisade finishes in early October. Several varieties will keep for months if refrigerated. In 2007 the western slope of Colorado produced 13 million pounds of apples valued at $3.5 million. Apples are sodium free, fat free and are a good source of fiber.This time of year the local grocery stores host shiny red, green and blush varieties. Apples have a natural wax that when rubbed slightly will shine to a lustrous red. The skin provides a natural protector from the sun, allowing the fruit to ripen. Which are the best to eat? Which are the sweetest? The tartest? Whats best for baking? How do you decide which to buy?Heres a basic primer to help you compare apples to apples: Red Delicious deep red color, distinctive shape, sweet and great to eat fresh. Not recommended for cooking or baking as the texture is quite soft. Golden Delicious Firm, crisp, juicy. Pale yellow-green color. Mild, sweet distinctive flavor. High quality, all purpose variety. Jonathan Great to eat fresh and stores well. Medium-sized attractive fruit, striped red with high color in spots. Flesh is juicy and crisp; flavor refreshing and slightly sharp. Jonagold Large fruit striped red over bright yellow. Firm, crackling, juicy, slightly tart. Superb, rich, full flavor. Finest dessert and eating quality. Good cooking properties. Will store in refrigerator for three months. Gala Excellent for fresh eating. A very pretty, medium sized, round fruit with yellow skin patterned with bright orange-red. Firm, juicy, fine textured, yellow white flesh. Sweet, slightly tart flavor. Fuji Tall, rectangular, multi-hued, medium sized fruit. Crisp, juicy, slightly tart flavor. White flesh with outstanding texture. Stores well. McIntosh Beautiful deep red color, size variable. Flesh white, firm, tender, very juicy, flavor characteristically aromatic, perfumed, slightly tart. Great for eating fresh or use in cooking and baking. Granny Smith Green, crisp and tart, and an excellent keeper. One of the most popular varieties for baking with excellent cooked texture and taste. Rome Beauty Very round fruit, medium to very large, can be striped to almost solid red, thick skin. A favorite for baking. Not recommended for eating fresh as texture is dry. Stores well.Avondale Pastry Chef Allison Helfer prefers baking with Granny Smiths, McIntosh, or Jonathans. They each hold texture and offer flavor thats a nice balance of sweet and tart, she said. She offers an easy version of her popular dessert below.

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin1 sheet frozen puff pastry4 Tablespoons applesauce or almond paste4 Tablespoons melted butter1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon1/2 cup caramel topping (purchased)Roll out the puff pastry sheet to 1⁄8 inch thin. Cut out four six-inch circles. Place on a baking sheet and return to freezer. When ready to bake, take the pastry from the freezer. Place a tablespoon of applesauce (or almond paste) in the center of each. Fan apple slices to cover the pastry. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, removing every 15 minutes to brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. After 45 minutes (or when pastry is crisp and apples are carmelized), brush lightly with caramel topping, bake another 5 minutes and remove from oven. Top with vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.

Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef of Avondale, suggests homemade applesauce as an accompaniment to roasted pork. This recipe can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for one week. Or, make a larger batch and freeze for use throughout the holiday season.Rustic cranberry applesauce3 pounds McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and quartered 3 strips of lemon peel Juice of one half lemon 3 inches of cinnamon stick 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar up to 1/2 cup of white sugar 1/2 cup cider or sparkling cider 1/2 cup dried cranberriesCombine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Stir to break apples up to desired consistency. Serve warm or cold.

Dont feel like cooking? Dazzle your friends with a seasonal apple cocktail. Avondales Bar Manager Brian Harker suggests a spicy apple martini.Spiced apple martini2 ounces vanilla vodka3/4 ounce sour apple schnappsPinch cinnamon1 ounce ciderCaramel topping1 dried apple chipCombine first four ingredients in a shaker and shake. Invert a martini glass and dip onto a dish of caramel topping. Pour martini into rimmed glass. Float a dried apple chip to garnish.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit

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