Apples: A Guide to Selection and Use

57576191Apples are a versatile and appealing fruit of widespread popularity. Many enjoy growing their own apples in backyard planting, while other prefer to purchase quality apples grown by professional fruit growers. Whether you plan to grow your own apples or purchase them from someone else, it is desirable to have information descriptive of the various types enjoying popularity today. Such information can be used to make important decisions concerning the type of trees to buy for planting or fruit to purchase for family use.

Ohio’s Leading Apple Varieties

The trend today is toward red apples, especially when the apples are grown for sale to others through commercial marketing channels. In cases where the apples are being grown primarily for home use, yellow apples such as yellow Transparent, Lodi and Grimes Golden may be used. Golden Delicious, the most popular yellow variety today, in not only well suited to the home fruit planting, but to commercial as well. The popular red varieties of apples at the present time in order of number of trees in the state are Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, Stayman and McIntosh. Red apples becoming increasingly popular as people try them and like them are the varieties Franklin and Melrose.

Franklin is a cross between McIntosh and Delicious and has a fine flavor and aroma. Harvest is normally during late September. Melrose is a cross between Jonathan and Delicious. The fruits are large with good flavor and texture. They ripen around the middle of October. Other newer apples growers may want to try are Ruby, Holiday and the various strains of Red Delicious. Also worth trying are Tydeman’s Red, Paula Red, Prima, Priscilla, Surprize (yellow) and Empire. At present, there is a trend to plant trees on dwarfing rootstock, both in commercial orchards and in backyard planting. By planting small trees, the home gardener can get several trees of different cultivars (varieties) in the same space that one or two large trees would require.

Most of the popular varieties, including those mentioned above, are now available on dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks. Dwarf trees, normally do not get much over 10 to 12 feet tall at maturity, while semi-dwarf trees may grow to be 15 to 18 feet tall. Dwarf trees begin to bear earlier than the larger, standard trees. Dwarfing does not affect fruit size or quality.

Apples for Specific Use

Apples are a favorite fruit of many people for eating out of hand or in fresh salads. The fruit of many apple varieties are also excellent for making a wide variety of cooked products. Apples best suited to particular uses are indicated below.

Fresh

  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Red Delicious
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Melrose
  • Franklin
  • Prima

Applesauce

  • Golden Delicious
  • Melrose
  • Yellow Transparent
  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Grimes Golden
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Rome Beauty
  • Lodi

Pies

  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Grimes Golden
  • Melrose
  • Rome Beauty
  • Yellow Transparent
  • McIntosh
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Lodi

Baking

  • Jonathan
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Rome Beauty
  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Grimes Golden
  • Melrose
  • Stayman Winesap

Freezing for Slicing

  • Jonathan
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Red Delicious
  • Grimes Golden
  • McIntosh

Freezing for Sauce

  • Yellow Transparent
  • Wealthy
  • Cortland
  • McIntosh

Freezing for Baking

  • Baldwin
  • Northern Spy

Cider

The best cider is usually made from a blend of different varieties of apples. Varieties are grouped into four groups according to their suitability as cider material.

Sweet Subacid*

  • Rome Beauty
  • Delicious
  • Grimes Golden
  • Cortland

Astringent (Crab apples)

  • Florence Hibernal
  • Red Siberian
  • Transcendent
  • Martha

Aromatic

  • Red Delicious
  • Golden Delicious
  • McIntosh

Mildly Acid to Slightly Tart

  • Stayman Winesap
  • Jonathan

General Use

  • Jonathan
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Melrose

* Usually furnish the highest percentage of total stock used for cider.

Written by Richard Funt, Professor Emeritus, Horticulture and Crop Science, College or Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Originally prepared by James D. Utzinger, Extension Horticulture, The Ohio State University.

Green beans aren’t quite beans

481658393This year we have an overabundance of green beans from our garden. If we eat them with rice, will they make a complete protein like other beans do?

Green beans aren’t really “beans,” at least according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. They’re great vegetables, though.

The primary difference is in protein content. A cup of green beans contains just 2 grams of protein, whereas a cup of, say, black beans contains 15 grams of protein. Green beans are actually harvested before the bean in the pod has fully matured — that’s why they don’t have as much protein as black beans, kidney beans or other types of dry beans.

Dry beans are a unique food in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They can be counted as vegetables or as proteins, and, paired with grains such as rice, provide all of the necessary amino acids for a complete protein. Green beans aren’t in the same category, but still are a perfectly fine food to include in the diet.

A cup of green beans has just 35 calories, and is a very good source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron and manganese.

An easy way to preserve your bounty is to freeze green beans. Ohio State University Extension recently developed a five-minute video showing how to properly prepare fresh green beans for freezing. It’s online atgo.osu.edu/greenbnpreserv.

One step not to skip is blanching. Although blanching causes some nutrient loss, especially of vitamin C, it prevents loss of other nutrients such as carotenoids.

After washing and trimming green beans, blanching the beans in boiling water for 3 minutes or steaming them for 5 minutes will not only eliminate any surface microorganisms, but will retard enzymes that otherwise would allow the vegetables to continue ripening, thus losing flavor, texture, color or nutrients. After blanching, cool the green beans rapidly in cold water or ice water to immediately stop the cooking process for the highest quality frozen green beans. For more information on freezing green beans and other vegetables, see the OSU Extension fact sheet Freezing Vegetables, at go.osu.edu/frzvegpdf.

For information on green bean nutrition and some healthy recipes, OSU Extension offers two additional resources:

• Maximize Your Nutrients from Green Beans and Pea Pods, online at Extension’s Farm to Health Series website at go.osu.edu/grnbnnutrpdf.

• Garden to Plate: Green Beans, a 2.5-minute video, online at go.osu.edu/grnbnrecipe.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Dan Remley, field specialist in Food, Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Kids still not eating enough produce

179322257How many fruits and vegetables should children eat every day? 

Actually, the recommendations for fruits and vegetables vary widely. They depend on children’s daily calorie needs, which relate to their age and activity level. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that:

  • Children ages 2 to 5 should eat 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit and 1 to 2 cups of vegetables a day.
  • Children ages 6 to 11 should eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 1.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day.
  • Children and teens ages 12 to 19 should eat 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables a day.

For details on these recommendations, including amounts of specific types of vegetables and methods to prepare fruits and vegetables, see appendices 6 and 7 in the Dietary Guidelines, online as a PDF atbit.ly/2010dietary.

As you might suspect, most kids don’t eat enough produce. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that while children have increased their overall fruit intake since 2003, most — 6 in 10 — are still not eating enough fruit. What’s worse, 9 in 10 kids don’t meet the recommendations for vegetable consumption.

One promising sign: The message to choose whole fruits over fruit juice appears to be getting through. Fruit juice is a concentrated source of calories and doesn’t have the fiber or, sometimes, some of the nutrients that whole fruit provides. The CDC report found that fruit juice intake significantly decreased, while whole fruit consumption increased significantly — more than making up for the reduction in juice intake.

The findings about vegetables were not as positive. Not only was there no increase in vegetable consumption over the study period, 2003 to 2010, but 30 percent of the vegetables kids consumed were white potatoes, often eaten as less-healthful fried potatoes or even potato chips.

To help kids and teens eat more fruits and vegetables, parents can:

  • Eat fruit and vegetables with your children. Modeling good behavior and enjoying a healthful snack with your kids is always helpful.
  • Make sure a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are available and in eyesight. Cut up and prepare produce ahead of time, and keep it at the front of the refrigerator. Make it easier to reach for an apple or carrot sticks than it is to grab some chips or cookies.
  • Include children when shopping for, growing, and preparing fruit and vegetables.
  • Encourage children to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Offer options — “Would you like this or that?” — to get kids to try new fruits and vegetables. Don’t just stick with favorites all the time.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carolyn Gunther, nutrition specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Bottom line: Don’t wash poultry

84467038We had a cookout at my sister’s house last weekend and I noticed she rinsed off her chicken in the sink before preparing it for cooking. Are we supposed to do that? 

In a word, no. In three words, no, no, no!

Your sister may be confusing food safety guidelines for poultry with those for produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water before cutting into or consuming them. But poultry really shouldn’t be.

Raw poultry is likely to harbor bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, such as Campylobacter and Salmonella. A well-publicized study by Consumer Reports earlier this year found 97 percent of the 316 chicken breasts tested were contaminated with bacteria that could make you sick.

The thing is, cooking, not rinsing, is what destroys the bacteria. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F to be safe. (Always use a meat thermometer to be sure.)

So, your sister might argue, why not rinse it beforehand? Isn’t that just an extra measure of safety? The answer is: Nope.

The reason is twofold, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. First, some bacteria commonly on the surface of meat and poultry are so tightly attached that no amount of rinsing will ever get them off. Second, and even more important, other types of bacteria are easily washed off — and when you put that raw chicken under the tap, the water is likely to splash all over the sink, the nearby countertop — and on you. And that can cause cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination is one of the primary causes of foodborne illness. Bacteria on your hands and on food-preparation surfaces can contaminate food that otherwise would have been just fine. It’s easy to imagine that, once cooked and relieved of the nasty bacteria, that perfectly fine chicken is placed on a platter that your sister had placed near the sink where she washed the chicken. The platter may look clean, but it could hold bacteria that would re-contaminate the chicken. The bacteria could also splash on her arms, clothing and other surfaces. Rinsing poultry and other raw meat is not only unnecessary, it’s not worth the risk.

You might send your sister a link to New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences “Don’t Wash Your Chicken!” website, at aces.nmsu.edu/dontwashyourchicken/. It includes several videos and cooking demonstrations repeating the same message: Don’t. Wash. Chicken.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Linnette Goard, field specialist in Food Safety, Selection and Management for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Wellness programs spread to schools

178095373After being inundated with “wellness” messages at work, I started walking more and have lost a few pounds. But it seems to me that children need to hear these kinds of things just as much as adults do. What’s happening in schools? 

Your experience isn’t uncommon. More and more workplaces have instituted wellness programs not only to help employees improve their health, but also to cut costs.

A 2010 analysis published in Health Affairs compiled results from 36 studies of such programs. It found that for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs, medical costs dropped by $3.27, and costs related to absenteeism dropped by $2.73. In hard numbers, the return on investment seems clear. It’s more difficult to quantify the benefits of such programs in terms of quality of life, but if your experience is any indication, wellness programs offer those benefits, too.

Still, you’re right: Employer-based wellness policies can only go so far. To reach children and teens, schools seem an obvious choice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. Obesity rates for children and adolescents have tripled from just a generation ago.

Those are primary reasons why any school that participates in the National School Lunch Program or other federal child nutrition program is now required to establish a school wellness policy. A school wellness policy guides efforts regarding school nutrition and physical activity for students. Parents and other members of the public can provide input into the policies.

The CDC’s website offers a comprehensive overview of school wellness polices atwww.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/npao/wellness.htm. While there’s still much work to be done, evaluations indicate schools have been establishing environments that better support nutrition and physical activity. Examples include:

  • Restricting access to high-sugar beverages and other less-healthful foods from vending machines, school stores, cafeterias, fundraisers and in some cases even class parties.
  • Offering nutrition education at each grade level.
  • Offering physical education classes that promote a physically active lifestyle or focus on personal fitness.
  • Integrating physical activity throughout the school day, such as offering activity breaks in the classroom.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carol Smathers, field specialist in Youth Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Eat better while spending less

480928155Every week, I wince at the cost when I go through the grocery store checkout line. How can I save money but still eat healthfully? 

It can seem like a challenge at times, but family and consumer science educators associated with Cooperative Extension and land-grant universities across the country offer tips to help, including:

  • Shop the sales. Look at grocery store fliers to see what’s being offered at a discount. They are often available online in advance to help you plan.
  • Shop on a full stomach. It’s true: You’ll tend to spend less than if you shop when you’re hungry.
  • Plan your meals based on sale items or items you already have on hand. Make a list according to your meal plan, and stick to the list when you shop — unless you see a cheaper alternative while you’re at the store.
  • These days you may find bargain prices on some items in the fresh produce aisle, but don’t forget frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. They are generally cheaper than buying fresh and have comparable nutrients. Try to incorporate more of these items in your meal planning.
  • Bypass convenience foods, such as preseasoned chicken breast and boxed or frozen dinners. Not only do you pay extra for them, but you can control the amount of salt and fat in foods when you prepare them yourself.
  • Check low and high shelves as you walk down the aisles: Often, that’s where you’ll find bargains.
  • Examine unit prices and check if there are lower-cost alternatives. Unit prices — the price per ounce, per pound or other unit — are often listed on the price tag on the store shelf. If not, you can do a quick calculation yourself by taking the price of the product and dividing it by the weight. Larger packages and store brands are normally cheaper than smaller packages and name brands, but not always, especially if there’s a sale or if you have a coupon.
  • That said, use coupons only when they make sense. Always check to see if you could save even more money by buying a store brand instead.
  • When you see an item that you often purchase offered at a significant discount, take advantage and stock up if it’s something that can be stored or frozen for later use.
  • Buying nonfood items at the grocery store can increase costs dramatically. See if you can buy them more cheaply at discount stores.

Need more ideas? Iowa State University Extension’s SpendSmart EatSmart website offers plenty:www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/. Or, see ideas from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at bit.ly/snapbudget.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Irene Hatsu, state specialist in food security for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

When good fruit goes bad

177423860When I hear about a recall involving fresh produce, how can I find out if the fruits and vegetables in my refrigerator are affected? If I buy organic produce, am I safe?

Information about recent recalls and food safety alerts are available on the front page of foodsafety.gov.

This listing contains information from both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees 80 percent of the nation’s food supply including produce, seafood and dairy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of meat, poultry and processed egg products. For foods covered just by the FDA, see www.fda.gov/safety/recalls for recall information going back 60 days.

For recalled fresh produce check the FDA list. You can run a specific search by using the product name as a keyword. By clicking on the name of the product, you’ll see a description and the pictures of the product that was recalled and the retailers that sold the item.  Packaged products that have been recalled will have a date, and a production lot number to look for on the package. For bulk produce without a label, check with the store where you bought the product to find out if your items are part of the recall.

If you do have a product that’s been recalled, follow the FDA’s advice and don’t take any chances. Either throw it away or take it back to the store and ask for a refund.

To be on the safe side, the FDA recommends that you should also:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (count it out — it’s longer than you might think) with soap and warm water after handling the recalled items.
  • Wash any surface that the recalled items have touched, including refrigerator shelves or bins, countertops, bowls or plates, with soap and warm water.

Unfortunately, organic produce isn’t immune to food safety problems.  For example, one brand of organic mangos sold in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey and Texas was the subject of a recall in May due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. A more recent recall of peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot) included both conventional and organic produce, because they were packed in the same facility where, again, Listeria was found.

Anyone can sign up to get automatic alerts about recalls by email or text. Just go tofoodsafety.gov/recalls/alerts to sign up.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Sanja Ilic, food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Look beyond high fructose corn syrup

488655329What’s the difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup?

High fructose corn syrup starts out as corn syrup. But food and beverage manufacturers alter the product for a number of reasons: High fructose corn syrup tastes sweeter than regular corn syrup. It also has good browning capabilities — a plus when making baked goods.

To really understand the science behind the sweetness, you need to know some background about the sugars sucrose, glucose and fructose.

Sucrose is table sugar. It’s usually made from sugar cane or sugar beets. Chemically, it is made up of one molecule each of glucose and fructose, bonded together. Even though both are types of sugar, fructose tastes sweeter than glucose.

Corn syrup is primarily glucose, so it’s not as sweet as table sugar. It’s made from corn, which is a lot cheaper than sugar cane or sugar beets. To get a product that’s as sweet as regular sugar, manufacturers add enzymes to regular corn syrup to convert some of the glucose to fructose, and that’s what we know as high fructose corn syrup.

The most common types of high fructose corn syrup used by food and beverage manufacturers contain either 42 percent fructose or, even sweeter, 55 percent fructose. That compares with 50 percent fructose in table sugar. Despite the differences, all of these sugars contribute the same 4 calories per gram to the diet.

High fructose corn syrup has gotten a bad rap since 2004, when a commentary published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested there could potentially be a link between its consumption and obesity. Other scientists questioned such a relationship, saying that high fructose corn syrup is no better or worse health-wise than other added sugars.

Studies are still being published in the scientific literature about how the body processes different sugars and if that makes a difference in health. However, the consensus today recommends that we focus our efforts on limiting all added sugars, not just high fructose corn syrup.

So, if you happen to see “No high fructose corn syrup” on the front of a label, be smart and look at the Nutrition Facts label for overall sugar content. Also look at the ingredients listing to see what other types of sweeteners the item might contain, such as agave, dextrose, maltose, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, crystalized fructose, honey or molasses. They’re all sugar.

For more about high fructose corn syrup from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, see http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm324856.htm.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or filipic.3@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Bridgette Kidd, Healthy People program specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Freezing Vegetables

179038355Freezing is a simple, easy, and convenient way to preserve vegetables. The process takes little time but the cost of a freezer and the utility costs make it one of the more expensive ways to preserve food. The freezing process preserves nutrients and provides a fresher flavor than canning or drying foods.

Freezing foods retards the growth of the micro- organisms and slows down chemical changes that may cause food to spoil. While freezing slows down spoilage, when the food is thawed the growth of bacteria, yeasts, or mold will continue. Proper handling of vegetables is important before freezing.

For step by step instructions on how to freeze vegetables click here

Original information compiled by Sharon L. Mader, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H, Sandusky County. Revised by Pat Shenberger, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ashland County. Revised by: Deb Angell, Associate Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Huron County; and Doris Herringshaw, EdD, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County. Reviewed by: Julie Shertzer, PhD, RD, LD Program Specialist, Department of Human Nutrition, Ohio State University Extension; and Lydia Medeiros, PhD, RD, Extension Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.