Any way you dice it, Rambo’s nothing but a tart … apple, that is. As you might guess, Rambo apples come big, although the North Carolina Apple Growers Association insists that size “bears no relation to quality.”
But to tell the truth, I couldn’t tell a Rambo from a Gala anyway, except that Gala apples are sweeter and smaller. See, in first grade, I failed the apple test: On a routine quiz, we were supposed to color in the proper color for each fruit that our teacher had drawn on the page.
I colored my apple bright yellow.
“Apples aren’t yellow,” the teacher announced primly. I tried to explain that, just the day before, I’d eaten a big yellow apple (a Golden Delicious, I know now). But that ill-informed teacher never changed my grade.
So here’s one for her, wherever she is: Red Delicious ain’t the only apple in Henderson County. Local growers offer Golden Delicious (a great salad apple); Rome Beauty (“the ultimate baking and cooking apple,” according to the NCAGA); Gala (a medium-sized, sweet snackin’ apple); Stayman (tart, good for cooking and cider-making); Granny Smith (the queen of tart); Fuji (a sweet variety that keeps well and tastes good); Jonagold (“one of the world’s most preferred eating apples”); Gingergold (mildly sweet); Crispin (crunchy, of course); and Pink Lady (sweet and tart).
Now that you know your apples, what can you do with them? Well, you can eat lots of them, because North Carolina produces nearly four million bushels of apples each year (there are 999,000 apple trees in Henderson County alone — the most in any county in the state), the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reports.
Here’s a tasty apple pie, recommended by Henderson County resident Evelyn Hill, who used to grow apples in Henderson County when she was a mite younger. You can find this recipe (and many others) in the NCAGA’s latest brochure, available at the Farmers Market in Asheville, as well as many visitor centers in the region.
Blue Ribbon Grated-Apple Pie
1 stick butter/margarine
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg and/or ginger
2 1/2 cups apples, shredded
1 unbaked, 9-inch pie crust
Blend the first six ingredients together and spoon the mix into your pie crust (which you’ve placed in a 9-inch pie pan first, of course). Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. According NCAGA, each big serving of this treat has a mere 306 calories, with just 16.24 grams of fat. Naturally, if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of a fresh-from-the-oven slice, like I do, all nutritional bets are off.
For some non-pie, low-calorie options, dice or slice an apple and add it to your salad. Or spoon low-fat yogurt over a bowl of apple chunks, and sprinkle with granola. Or just bite into a naked apple fresh off the tree.
If you wish to dress up your fresh apple slices, try them with this decadently simple “Taffy” dip, offered by Henderson County grower Peggy Laughter:
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
“You just mix it up together and dip your apple slices into it — or spread it on them, if it comes out a bit thick,” says Laughter. Or try orange-flavored dip, substituting 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate for the sugar, and adding 7 ounces of marshmallow creme and 1 tablespoon of orange peel.
Laughter also offers this tip: If you’re slicing a lot of apples for a big family pie, drop the slices in a bowl of lightly salted cold water while you work, to keep them fresh.
For more recipes, write to: NCAGA, Box 58, Edneyville, NC 28727, for their latest brochure, or call 697-4557.