We had apple trees on our farm when I was growing up, but those were different creatures from the ones in orchards today. Those trees were giants, and for all I know, they could have been planted by Johnny Appleseed. Modern trees, though, are smaller and denser, which makes pruning and picking easier.
While apples are nutritious (Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, etc.), they are mainly chosen for taste and texture. For eating out of hand, I like firm, slightly tart apples, such as MacIntosh and Honeycrisps. For cooking, I often mix apples: Cortlands for sweetness, Granny Smiths for tartness. One of my favorite cold weather desserts is apple crisp, and one of my favorite cold weather beverages is hot cider, mulled with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves.
Apples are also good for mixing with heavy, bland vegetables. Here is one of my favorite cool-weather dishes, Baked Roots and Fruit:
First, cut the following into large chunks:
- 1-2 large onions
- 3 large carrots
- 1 large parsnip
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 white potatoes
- 1 apple, cored (peel or not, as you wish)